The power of Words

Image of YouTube home page

Video for all. But can you find what you want?

While looking at my Ebay listing thinking ‘Ah! I can improve on that’ once again my mind wondered over the power of words.

Words, printed words that is, are one of our oldest technologies, yet even in this day and age, for their being absolutely everywhere, their power is as relevant to day as it was when Monks held their printing press in as much reverence as their faith.

Once upon a time Television was going to kill off the radio. The home Video Recorder was going to kill off the Cinema, and YouTube was going to change the way the Internet was consumed – having to write for the web was a thing of the past.

The problem is that Search Engines can’t see what’s inside a video. If its Bob presenting a tutorial on a wood staining an old piece of sixties furniture using a pure bristle brush and a man made fiber brush, we as humans might see these differences but a search engine can’t. A search engine will have a hard time ‘seeing Bob’, although arm chair technologist’s will probably argue Facebook could see him through its facial recognition software.

But of what Bob’s doing? How could the Search Engine know that Bob was staining the wood as apposed to cleaning it? The motions are similar, the process’s very different.

Unless the author of the video delves into ‘meta data’, that is keywords that describe the content of the video, who’s in it, what they are doing, what they are using, much like the words I’ve used to paint the picture of the imaginary video above, how are you going to find it?

Unless the video author ‘tags’ the who, what, where, when of the video content in words in a file attached to the video, how do you propose to find it in a search term?

But there it is, the tool used is words again. The Search Engine can take your search term and match it against the meta data descriptor file that points to the video. Remove the words, the meta data file containing the words, and your lost. It can’t translate. You are left with a first class video tutorial that no one can find.

Back to the Ebay listing

My listing is in a sea of listings, matched by keyword search, that was little different from those listings from sellers in Ireland, or Hong Kong, or China. In my picture of my item there was nothing to convey more information to a perspective buyer. Do I need to write ‘for sale’ over it? Or is the fact that its shown on Ebay enough to tell you the item is for sale with no additional words required? You see it on Ebay and that by itself is enough to tell you its offered for sale. Writing ‘for sale’ would be superfluous words in a description because of the context of where you find it.

Placing a picture of the Union Jack flag in the picture, an unsearchable picture by the Search Engine keyword search, would tell the viewer that behind the item is a UK Seller. We are now in the land of the Graphic Artist, the intermediary between video/ pictures and words, information conveyed by symbols. It means something to us humans.

In a world of technology and solutions it seems we still have some way to go that will bridge this gap.

The power still remains with those black squiggles on a white background – words. Remove them and all sorts of things no longer work.

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