Friday, November 16, 2007

Link of the Week: Open Vault

In this YouTube age, short videos have become increasingly important as both a cultural expression and a source of information. Most internet purveyors of short video clips provide entertainment and little more. However, for those who want to get past the Mentos fountains and the piano playing kitties, here is a website to peruse.

Open Vault is web resource created and maintained by Boston's Public Television station, WGBH, and (in the site's own words) "Open Vault provides online access to unique and historically important content produced by public television station WGBH for individual and classroom learning. The ever-expanding site contains video excerpts, searchable transcripts, a select number of complete interviews for purchase, and resource management tools."

Want to see, from 1993, poet Lucille Clifton read one of her poems? Want to see bits of a 1978 William Wegman video profiling his dog (or is it the avant-garde photographer....), Man Ray? Want to see Flo Kennedy sound off (in 1976) about racism in the women's movement? Want to see a clip from Vietnam: A Television History (1981), in which special counsel to U.S. president Lyndon B. Johnson, Harry McPherson, discusses President Johnson's "internal stalemate" about the war? How about a cool, très artsy clip from Ros Barron's 1976 "dramatic movement work," Magriitte sur la Plage?

As the dates above indicate, this is not a good source for up-to-the-minute news segments. These are slightly more historical clips that come from the documentaries, public affairs programming, and news shows of WGBH. There are many excellent clips related to the Boston and Massachusetts region--especially useful are the ones detailing the issues and lives of the minority communities. In some cases, transcripts are provided for the clips, and you can register with the site to be able to keep notes on videos and the like. And, just like Amazon will suggest additional books or videos based on other user's purchases, Open Vault will even suggest other clips, based on the viewing of previous visitors.

Although you can buy some full-length videos related to a few of the featured programs at Open Vault (see Shop PBS or WGBH Stock Sales to explore these options) most of the clips in this media library and archive resource are not available elsewhere, and are meant to simply be used and viewed here.

This website is still developing and evolving, but if you'd like to explore short videos that have some educational value and informational substance to them, this website is worth a browse. [Note: If you don't already have it, you will need to download Apple's Quicktime Player to view the video clips.]

No comments: