Even thought Viddler already does it, and does it better, I’m still quite excited by YouTube’s addition of annotation tools. I’ve got 28 groups of students creating Digital Media Projects at the moment and one of the stipulations was that they have to examine the videosharing websites out there and select one to host their work: 27 of 28 groups selected YouTube (most of them rely on the simple point that YouTube gets the eyeballs … and, for now, they’re right). From an educational perspective, critically engaging with digital video becomes a lot more fun when annotations, references and links can be added to existing video! Even though they’re pretty crude at this point, the annotation tools for YouTube also mark a shift from treating YouTube as slices of TV (in video terms) toward an environment where the hypertextuality of digital video comes to the in to play. A bit like what Quicktime already facilitates so brilliantly.
Of course, YouTube’s annotations are all in beta at this point (and proper, not perpetual, beta … you can’t embed annotations in external sites yet, and I’m presuming that eventually YouTube will allow optional viewer annotations, too), so the toolkit may very well evolve. Until then, I can’t wait until I’ve got a cohort of students annotating away to critique and comment on digital video … what fun could be had with speak bubbles, I wonder?