Marco Sanchez ’10 was the winning entry in the Claiming Williams public service announcement contest. Kudos on the excellent claymation work! To watch, click here, then click on “There is No Mold” and the other video entry titles in order to view them.

If you care for off-topic, unnecessary ranting, continue reading at your own risk.

Okay, so these videos are obviously quite exceptional work and deserve to be showcased, both on the Claiming Williams website and elsewhere, such as on blogs that happen to be devoted to “All Things Eph”. When I first visited this link (thanks to Parent ’12 for the tip), I was quite happy to see that not only were the videos viewable on the Claiming Williams site, they were embeddable on other websites as well. An arrow in the corner of the video revealed a big, green, inviting “Share” button, which led to some embed code that one could, presumably, copy and paste into an EphBlog post or elsewhere in order to give greater publicity to these videos. Perfect! I thought this was a sign of progress – the Williams website is really coming along in terms of making things easily accessible. Or so I thought.

When I tried to copy the code and embed the video into this post – my plan was to showcase the winning video and all of the other videos in this post – I got a generic, blank video player. Clicking play did nothing. Curious, I tried it on other browsers. Same result. Nothing.

But the videos worked on the Claiming Williams site. Strange.

Delving into the source code of the Claiming Williams page, you see that the actual videos are not, in fact, embedded on the page. The site embeds a generic player, then uses a seemingly hard-coded javascript function that is launched when you click on the names of the various videos to load the actual video file into the generic player. In short, instead of creating a self-contained embedded video that could be copied and embedded into other sites – the essential feature which makes sites like YouTube so successful – the Claiming Williams web developer had designed a single-use video-loading function specific to a single page. None of these videos would ever, short of a fair amount of utterly unnecessary work, be shared on any other page. That big green “Share” button was rendered utterly useless, because it was tied to the generic video player – not the actual videos. In order to share any of these videos on EphBlog, I would have to practically replicate the entire Claiming Williams page here (neither I nor anyone else is likely to do that).

Now, I don’t want to bash on any individual web developer. I’ve been there, and it’s hard work, and they’re probably trying their best – and the choice may well have not been in their hands. But would it have been that hard to simply embed each actual video on the page? Or just post them to YouTube or Vimeo, they’ve got the embedding/sharing puzzle all figured out already. Why reinvent the wheel?

The net result of this ridiculously restrictive video interface is that far fewer people will view these videos than would have been the case if the videos had been shareable. This does a disservice to the wonderful student work that went into the videos.

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