Friday, February 22, 2008

Webcasts from the Library of Congress

The Library of Congress is the topic of a series of posts that I will make this week. The topic today: this rich selection of webcasts of LOC lectures and other public events. Categories include Biography, History, Performing Arts, Education, Government, World Affairs, Literature, Religion and Science. I am watching this panel: "Indian Religious Freedom, to Litigate or Legislate?" right now. Other intriguing titles include End of European Colonial Empires, Robert E. Lee, and 1507 Waldseemuller World Map. There are hundreds more!

Sadly the implementation of the webcasts is not what it could be. They are presented in the odious Realplayer format. (What is wrong with RealPlayer? Well PC Magazine listed it as #2 in their article "The 25 Worst Tech Products of All Time.") An unfortunate side effect of the choice to use Realplayer is that you can't easily download the webcasts onto a portable device for later viewing--you have to watch them online, at your computer. (There are of course ways around this.) These programs were put on at the taxpayers' expense and are free of copyright, we should be able to download them if we like. There are no interactive features, we can't leave comments at the webcast pages. And it is not possible to insert the webcasts into a blog or webpage, as I so often do with YouTube videos on this blog.

I am delighted by the wealth of material in these webcasts, but wish they had presented them differently. I wonder why the LOC didn't just get a YouTube channel?

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