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Wednesday, August 01, 2007

National Archives + CustomFlix: Two Drawbacks

On Monday, CustomFlix (a division of Amazon) started selling thousands of historic films from the National Archives, via the company's DVD on demand service. Here's the AP coverage, and a story from Video Business.

Making these films available is a great step forward for the Archives (and for researchers and history buffs.) One problem, though, is that there's very little description of what's on each disc -- and no video preview. You just get a still frame, and the dates that the disc covers (here's an example.)

If we've learned anything so far about video on the Internet, it's that you need lots of metadata surrounding the video to help people find it, and understand what they're going to get if they watch it or purchase it: summaries, cast lists, tags, keywords, and previews all help.

The second issue with this new video library is that it isn't yet available as a download from Amazon's Unbox service -- unlike most other CustomFlix titles.

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