My NET colleague Kymberly Escobar showed me a neat toy today — a video camera that’s designed for easy Internet connection, is about the size of a video Ipod and that costs about $100. She’s been using one to shoot videos of her kid, but she immediately saw the usefulness for online advocacy, particularly for field organizers or campaign volunteers.
The Flip Video camera shoots either 30 or 60 minutes of 640×480 video, depending on the size of the flash drive, and also contains editing software that you can launch when you hook the little critter up to a computer via USB. When connected, it’s designed to upload videos directly to YouTube — a great feature for newbies, and a clever time-saver for a lot of applications. From what I’ve seen, the image quality is quite good, considering the obvious resolution limits, and the camera includes a 2x (digital) zoom and the ability to capture stills. A nice extra: it’s small enough to escape notice much of the time, and if you (or someone else) should happen to step on it? While not quite disposable, it’s close enough.
Imagine the campaign uses: at a field event (protest, press conference, media stunt, punking opportunity), organizers or volunteers armed with these cameras and a laptop with wireless connection could very quickly shoot video and select and edit clips. They could then either post them to YouTube for the world to see (tag them with a common and unique keyword for easy searching and/or distribution via RSS) or email them to the campaign communications shop. Want a collective record of an event, to use for good or evil? Have several people armed with these machines in the crowd, supplemented as necessary by cameras that hold more footage or that shoot at higher quality, and wait for the Macaca moments to roll in.