How you can support the video archive

 


Wouldn’t it be fascinating if we could watch original videos of presentations given by great scientists such as Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, or Albert Einstein, and to witness their insights, doubts, and discussions? Although this is not possible
for events of the past, it could well be the case that the Newtons, Darwins, and Einsteins of our rapidly advancing field are already amongst us. Archiving their treasures is one aim of the video archive.

Another is to make teaching materials available to everybody. There are many gifted teachers and presenters in our field, but an ordinary student in Computational Linguistics hardly ever has the chance of attending their lectures and presentations, and established scientists rarely find the time. Isn’t it desirable to have videos of lectures and tutorials on a website readily available for free download? Similar to live presentations recordings can be a motivating and fast way to spread knowledge, ideas, and techniques.

Further uses of the video archive are to document historical developments in our field, to honour innovators, and to communicate key results of meetings. Videos allow scholars to learn from the leaders in the field. Watching them is more personal and more motivating than reading scientific papers, and it is far less expensive and time consuming than attending meetings.

There have been previous suggestions to set up a video archive, e.g. by Yorick Wilks and Anne deRoeck, but until a few years ago the technical difficulties were severe. However, by now we live in a time where there is no more technical excuse not to do this. Digital camcorders producing reasonable results are available at low prices, video cut can be done on standard PCs using free software such as VirtualDub, and web-services like www.youtube.com, www.onlinetvrecorder.com, and videolectures.net, which are in daily use by thousands of people, show that the large scale web-distribution of videos is now feasible. In short: With todays technology, video is an efficient means of scientific communication.

As highly interesting presentations worth being recorded are given at places all over the world, no single person or institution has a complete overview or can attend them all. We therefore think that the best way to run the video archive is as a joint effort of the entire scientific community. Of course, the technical infrastructure could in principle be built up by a commercial enterprise, but this would mean that the invaluable know how provided by the scientists would be exploited to create revenue for those who are in control of the distributional infrastructure, which we feel is not justified in this case as the infrastructure can be kept simple. There might also be conflicts with what is in the best interest of the scientific community. For example, sites that depend on revenue from advertisements can not easily allow the download of files for offline viewing as they must try to keep traffic (and  click rates) high. In the case of videos this implies that only the limited quality that is technically possible for live streams can be made available. As a consequence of such considerations, we suggest for the video archive  a community driven non-profit approach as successfully exemplified by Wikipedia or numerous open source software projects. This means that everybody will have free access to the results, everybody is welcome to contribute, but nobody will be able to make a profit out of other people's work.

Should you wish to support this initiative, please let us know. The following list is intended to give some ideas of possible contributions:

As a token of our appreciation, all persons who support the video archive are listed in the acknowledgment section of this website. Should you not wish this, or should the list not be complete (which unfortunately can easily happen in a network of cooperating people), we would be glad if you could  let us know.