Using videos on the history web

I’ve noticed, on the history web*, that video is being used more and more. This isn’t just on history related sites, I know. Obviously people are listening to all those internet marketers and finding that video works (or at least I hope they are testing to see that it does). I love watching videos on websites but I’m starting to get picky. I’m finding that some organisations that use video are not putting it though the same sort of rigorous vetting that they would a publication or, more relatedly, an exhibition.

At the moment I’m working on text for two different exhibitions and it has been so important to make the text GOOD. Not just useful or nice to read or interesting. GOOD. I used to tell my senior high school English students: be concise, precise, decisive. This is good advice for all writing, but particularly writing that goes out into unknown territory. Like an exhibition. Like the history web.

Why am I talking about writing when I started talking about video? Because you won’t get the video right if you don’t get the writing right first. No way around this.

Think for a moment about the audience for the history web. History geeks? Local people? People doing research? Perhaps all these people will forgive you for less than spectacular writing and videos because they have a vested interest already. But, isn’t one of the points of getting onto the history web in the first place to engage and connect with people including those who wouldn’t normally visit an actual museum/gallery/library? I’m pretty sure this is why videos are being made in the first place and why museums are on twitter and archives are on facebook.

Want to see some examples?

Here is one I think needs improving:

Here is one I really like:

What makes the second one good?

I want to know what YOU think!

I’ll be back tomorrow with what I think.

*Trying to come up with a name for all those websites that I, as an historian, find fascinating or have something to say about history, how organisations connect with each other and the public, trends and ideas in history and what organisations and people are doing that merge history and technology was hard. I’m working with ‘the history web’ at the moment to mean all these things and anything else I think fits. Just so you know!


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