Tag Archives: youtube

Old Testament, New Media

It’s important for observant jews to adapt to the evolution of modern technology. But remember, you can’t block God. He’ll totally know.

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Google Game: What’s the most…?

I was a little surprised to see that “most painful piercing” made it into this top ten.

OK, well maybe not that surprised. But anyway, I’m going to let that query go unanswered for now (feel free to search for yourselves) and focus first on the most-viewed YouTube video. Can you guess what it is? Take a moment or two to come up with your selection then follow me over the jump for the answer.

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Tufts YouTube Admissions Essays Total (Up)Load of Shit

This is on Tufts' undergrad admissions page. Who's jerking whom around here? Becoming a Jumbo is one giant Elephant Walk.

When I was in high school, the Brown University application included an essay that you had to write by hand. I thought it was stupid, but I also thought the college might accept me, so I went along with it. Later I heard about a girl who wrote her essay in a spiral that filled the page from the center out. I never would have thought of that. I realized that, no, I guess I wasn’t Brown material.

But I was Tufts material, which, I found out when I got there, didn’t really mean… anything. The school was liberal, but not lock-yourself-in-the-campus-center liberal. There was a conservative journal, too, though any association therewith was vilifying. It had artsy students, but they had their own house (I mean, “haus”), and enginerds and even a couple frats and sororities (shudder to think). And it boasted a degree of diversity, enrolling students from both the North and South shores of Long Island. It certainly never felt particularly progressive. (I heard Brown doesn’t even give grades!)

But according to the New York Times, Tufts is a beacon of collegiate innovation:

It is reading season at the Tufts University admissions office, time to plow through thousands of essays and transcripts and recommendations — and this year, for the first time, short YouTube videos that students could post to supplement their application.

About 1,000 of the 15,000 applicants submitted videos. Some have gotten thousands of hits on YouTube.

Tufts, which, like the University of Chicago, is known for its quirky applications, invited the YouTube videos. Along with the required essays, Tufts has for years offered applicants an array of optional essays — “Are we alone?” is one of this year’s topics — or a chance to “create something” out of a sheet of paper. So it was not too far a stretch, this year, to add the option of posting a one-minute video that “says something about you.”

Known for its quirky applications? I missed that one. I only applied to Tufts because it was on the common app. Digital video? I think not. Photocopy? Yes, ma’am.

You can scroll through some of the videos here. I’m fairly impressed by the stop motion stuff, but the rest of it makes me feel uncomfortable. There’s little more unsettling than teenage earnestness. If these YouTube applications are an indication of what to expect for the future of Tufts, I think it can be summed up in four words: Hebrew hip hop raves.

[Thanks, Jess]

Closed Captioning for YouTube Brought to You by Google

The New York Times today reports that

In the first major step toward making millions of videos on YouTube accessible to deaf and hearing-impaired people, Google unveiled new technologies on Thursday that will automatically bring text captions to many videos on the site.

According to the article, Google’s speech recognition technology, already used in applications such as its voice-to-text phone message service, initially will be applied to largely educational video channels on the YouTube, such as PBS, National Geographic and university stations. Another version of it will be available to regular users, giving them the option of having YouTube caption their videos for them, auto-generating transcripts from the audio.

While aimed at making online videos more accessible to the aurally-challenged, the technology will also be a revelation for the rest of us who want to bask ever more thoroughly in the glow of humanity’s radiant stupidity. Did she just say, “could be a crack head that got hold to the wrong stuff”? Let’s go to the transcript for confirmation. (Yes. I am getting word that, yes, that is what she said.)

Furthermore, imagine the far out search implications. Forget hoping someone’s typed out and time-logged choice quotes from the latest Family Guy (06:24: “I did some poos, I did some poos, I didn’t  mean to.”), or straining to recall in which chapter R. Kelly sings “I thought your name was Mary/ That’s what you said at the party/ Man, this is getting scary/ I’m gonna shoot somebody.” Uploaded videos will be automatically tagged with text files, unleashing a deluge of previously untap-able search reserves. It’s the web’s next logical step, really.

And you thought you spent a lot of time on the computer now.

Feel Good Friday

A couple videos to warm the cockles of your cold and tired heart. Maybe even the rest of it, too.

First, a story of nurturing, separation, and the enduring power of love. And of shopping for wildlife at a department store. Money can buy you love: Lion Love.

(Full ending with original soundtrack here.)

For something a little less involved/narrative-based, put your eyes on Keepon, the hugably cute dancing robot that made a splash on the YouTube back in 2007 and was subsequently co-opted by researchers who use it to study autism and other important stuff. But its research value aside, and whether or not you’ve seen it before, it can’t fail to light up your day just a little.

For a new twist I suggest you have a friend G-Chat you the link so that you can have the video run mini-sized in the corner while you trudge through your inbox. NB: The song is great, but Keepon’s squishy moves work their magic even with the volume off.

And of course, I can always rely on the E Trade Baby. Holy smokes, these get me every freakin’ time.

Unhappy On On Langage On Un-Language

This weekend’s New York Times Magazine On Language column, written by Ben Zimmer (in for Sir Safire) looks at what Zimmer calls “the age of undoing,” the preponderance of backformed words created by tacking a convenient un- to the front of everything.

The article begins:

“What’s done cannot be undone,” moaned Lady Macbeth in her famous sleepwalking scene. If she woke up in the 21st century, she would be pleased to discover that whatever can be done can be undone, too.

Or perhaps it just seems that way in the new social spaces we are carving for ourselves online. On popular Web sites devoted to social networking, innovative verbs have been springing up to describe equally innovative forms of interaction: you can friend someone on Facebook; follow a fellow user on Twitter; or favorite a video on YouTube. Change your mind? You can just as easily unfriend, unfollow or unfavorite with a click of the mouse.

The recent un- trend has also seeped into the world of advertising. KFC is marketing its new Kentucky Grilled Chicken with the tagline “UNthink: Taste the UNfried Side of KFC.” The cellphone company MetroPCS challenges you to “Unlimit Yourself,” while its competitor Boost Mobile wants you to get “UNoverage’D” and “UNcontract’D” (ridding yourself of burdensome overage fees and contracts). Even victims of the financial downturn can seek solace in un-: ABC broadcast a special report in May telling viewers how to get “Un-Broke.”

It goes on to trace the un-ing of words back to some linguistic genesis, one rooted largely in the electronic world. Forsooth, there once was a time when the “Undo” command was novel. But what interests me more than their digital-etymological rise are the cultural connotations of these words, and what they signify beyond their definitions.

Take, first, Zimmer’s advertising and ABC examples: UNfried, UNlimit, UNoverage’D, UNcontract’D and Un-Broke. What I see here is more than clever marketing, but the display of a pervading sense of dissatisfaction. Typically, branding serves consumers (that’s us) with aspirational images. Beer will make you cool and popular, makeup will make you beautiful, etcetera, ad infinitum. Buy this, become better. But these un- slogans are not about becoming what you want; they’re about un-becoming what you are and wish you weren’t.

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