Science video quality

Cross-posted from the Planet SciCast blog:

There are several reasons we’re not using YouTube to publish SciCast. Chiefly that it’s blocked in many schools, which would rather limit the utility of our films, but there are issues surrounding quality too.

Quality of video playback, for one thing – we want these films to be projected on a classroom wall, and that’s hard with grainy YouTube quality. The downloads we’ll make available will be high-resolution, high-quality, and in our tests have looked terrific on big screens.

Quality of discussion is another worry. We all know the web is full of knee-jerk, intemperate comment, but even given that, does anyone else think YouTube comments are still below average?

The third issue is quality of content. We can’t rigorously vet SciCast films, and they’re not all textbook-accurate. But they’re rarely complete rubbish, and we haven’t any yet that I’d describe as ‘anti-science.’ We want SciCast to be a source you can trust to be frequently entertaining and at least mostly accurate – and with current web video, that’s unusual.

The first piece of work I’ve seen on this issue was published recently in the Journal of the American Medical Association, and it makes for alarming reading; there’s an excellent summary at Ars Technica.

There are good reasons why scientists need to be capable and effective communicators; part of SciCast’s ambition is to raise standards, and disseminate skills and best practice.

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