(Video podcast from the Government of Canada’s AfCam channel on YouTube)
The other day, a colleague brought the AfCam project to my attention. What is AfCam? It’s “Afghanistan Camera” – a federal government social media project in support of Canada’s work in Afghanistan. I believe it’s led by CIDA.
Here’s the blurb from the AfCam home page on the “Canada’s Engagement in Afghanistan” website:
Welcome to AfCam, a look at Canada’s engagement in Afghanistan through photos, videos, and sounds. View our feature gallery and podcast by clicking below, or search the database by clicking in the box to the right.
Stay updated by subscribing to AfCam on social media channels like Flickr, YouTube, and iTunes.
I just love seeing the words “social media channels like Flickr, YouTube, and iTunes” on a GoC web page. This is great initiative – using images, sound and video content is a fantastic way to complement (or supplant) the usual text-centric government communications products online, whether press releases or publications etc. And the social nature of these tools makes it a lot easier to spread this content around. So I love seeing it out there.
One of the challenges of using these disparate channels is tying it all together — and the AfCam page does a nice job of this. In addition to the photos and videos themselves, the page prominently points to the various AfCam outposts on YouTube, Flickr, Facebook and iTunes. (And I wonder if this is the first use of these logos on a federal website?) There’s an RSS feed buried at the bottom also. I would have taken advantage of the RSS autodiscovery technique for this, but no matter.
But what if you come at AfCam via one of these other channels? The Facebook page is essentially a mirror of the content from the AfCam page on http://www.afghanistan.gc.ca — the photos from the Flickr photostream are posted there, the RSS feed items are there and the videos have been uploaded also. Interestingly, most of videos have been included via the FB YouTube app rather than being uploaded directly (although there’s English and French overview videos posted using FB’s native video app). And the photos are also posted directly to the page rather than being pulled from Flickr via that’s site’s FB app.
The YouTube and Flickr channels are much more rudimentary — a lot of this has to do with the limitations inherent in those platforms. There’s not a lot of room for cross-linking or pointing to AfCam’s other presences from either of these. The focus is squarely on the videos and the photos respectively; context be damned. But on Flickr for instance, I’m thinking that more detail should be added to the AFCam profile page, which could point to the YouTube channel or the Facebook page or back to the page on http://www.afghanistan.gc.ca.
Aside: I noticed also that the Flickr photos were all marked as copyrighted. I’ll bet they are the work of professional photogs who want to retain their copyright, but wouldn’t it be nice to see these with creative commons licensing to facilitate sharing?
Aside #2: I noticed that the videos embedded on the main AFCam page are using what looks like the accessible media player mandated by the GoC – I couldn’t find the transcripts however. Posting up a text transcript would complete the accessibility solution.