About the Video Player

The “tag player” is a prototype media player for displaying and navigating video via keywords, or "tags." It is an experiment in non-linear storytelling that allows people to find and watch video clips --and eventually other media types -- based on tags.

News21 journalism fellows at the University of Maryland, working with design consultant Kristen Novak, initially conceived the player as a way to present nearly 50 video interviews the students shot of people on the street talking about American politics. As they were developing it, the students realized the player had other possible uses, too. For example, it could present a large collection of video about any big news story -- such as a plane crash or presidential campaign--alongside a "tag cloud" that lets users find and watch footage based on topics that interest them most.

Maryland's News21 team is working to expand the prototype to display other media types, including audio and images. It plans to partner with news organizations to develop different to program how tags get associated with media files to determine what is displayed and in what order. The goal is to to explore editorial uses in multimedia storytelling. 


How the Tag Player Works

The core idea is to use tags for sorting large collections of media, by letting editors or anyone publishing in the player manually assign tags to each video clip or other file type.  Once tags are assigned, viewers can sort the video, audio or images by clicking on a particular tag to see all associated media in a grid on the left. Tags are displayed on the right, with the size of each varying based on how many files are associated with it. Eventually, the list of tags also may vary based on such factors as how many people click on a particular tag or watch a particular video.

The player was built in Flash by Novak, a USA Today Web designer working as a consultant on The New Voters project. Novak is an adjunct at Maryland's Philip Merrill College of Journalism.

"Open Sourcing" the Player

 Maryland's News21 team plans to to develop an expanded version of the player in a 
template that will allow other organizations to use it. The ultimate goal is to release the "open source" tag player for public use.