Vodpod on IE9

We’ve long tried to build specific support for the leading browsers, to make Vodpod more usable and useful. We recently launched a really cool Chrome extension, for example, and have a very popular “Share Videos” extension for Firefox.

So we were pleased to participate in the IE9 launch today with 25 other partners (we were “V”, Twitter was “T”, WordPress “W” and so on). IE9 appears to be a good step forward, with HTML5 support, improved speed, and a cleaner interface. One of the nifty new features is “Site Pinning.” You can pin a site to your Windows taskbar, with a “jumplist” on right click that includes links to key tasks or sections of the site; very handy for sites and services you use regularly. Here’s Vodpod:

The Vodpod jump list provides links to your account page & news feed, your videos and your profile page. You can also pin your favorite collections and collectors, and we expect to provide support for “collecting” videos from the jumplist in days.

If you’re using the IE9 beta, let us know what you think and what you’d like us to add.

Vodpod as Learning Platform

A few weeks ago, there was a very inspiring piece on Forbes.com about Salman Khan, who started the Khan Academy, “a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) with the mission of providing a world-class education to anyone, anywhere.”   This was the latest in a series of pieces about Khan and his mission to teach math via the internet.

At the heart of the Khan Academy are over 1600 short videos made by Khan, who quit his job at a hedge fund several years ago and began creating these videos for his cousin who was struggling to learn math.

Why mention it here at Vodpod? Because it’s such a great and worthy project, first and foremost.

But also because it reminded us of an often overlooked, but incredibly worthy core use of Vodpod — as a tool for teachers and educators. Right from the start of Vodpod,  we noticed members were collecting videos from a site called “TeacherTube.” And we’re using our widgets on specialized education blogs.

We now see 1000s of educators using the site. Including math teachers;  school librarians from all over the world; passionate education technologists; science teachers; brain science researchers; and even Latin teachers (in Spain no less!).

We’re happy to see Vodpod put to use for so many different things. But using it as a tool to help teach people — that’s the best.

Feed Your Desktop — The New Chrome Extension

We’ve built a really cool new extension for the Chrome browser that brings the best videos on web found by people you follow on Vodpod to your desktop in real-time.

Get it here, now!

The new extension will add a nice orange Vodpod button to the upper right corner of  your Chrome browser. Once you’ve installed it, you’ll see a notification when someone you’re following has added a video.

Just click on the orange button to see what’s been added and what’s in your feed.

From your feed, click on the video you want to watch.

Right click (Windows) or Ctrl+click if you want to adjust any of the settings.

Following other members on Vodpod has really taken off over the past month. The new Chrome extension makes following other people on Vodpod, and our social video discovery platform, that much more userful and fun.

There’s only one problem with the Chrome extension — it’s addictive! Have fun.

1000s of Followers

As we’ve recently written, Vodpod is a social video discovery platform. A place where anyone can collect any video from any video sharing site (17,600+ and counting!). A place where you can follow people who collect videos you like, or that match your interests and tastes.

And people have been doing a lot more following lately. While we’ve enabled people to follow others on Vodpod for years, we’ve only recently begun pushing it as our service has reached scale (i.e., enough members collecting enough videos across enough topics).

It’s paying dividends — the number of “follow” actions per day has increased almost 100-fold from 3-4 months ago, and 10-fold from just 3-4 weeks ago.  And  we’re starting to see more of our members gaining more followers.

Yesterday, HoodHollywood became the first Vodpod member to pass 1000 followers. There will be many others passing that mark, and soon.

What We Talk About When We Talk About Vodpod

apologies to raymond carver

We often get asked — by friends, family, potential investors — “What’s Vodpod?”

We know all about the art of the elevator pitch, the need to have a pithy line to throw out. But when you spend most of your waking hours thinking about and working on a service or product, you naturally resist the urge to simplify. It’s hard to distill everything your service is and does into a pithy sentence.

But a conversation with one of our engineers (@aphyr) last week reminded me of the importance of having a simple line or two. He mentioned how hard to explain to his family what he does, and why they might want to use Vodpod.

I thought, “I’ll write down what I say to my friends and share it with the team.” Then I thought: I should just write a blog post.

What’s Vodpod?

A place where people make their own video channels, by collecting videos they  like from 10,000s of sites on the web — including YouTube, Hulu, the BBC, Comedy Central, and more.

Why would I use it?

Because it’s a really great way — the best way, even — to find and watch video. People who make channels on Vodpod comb through the gazillions of videos on the web and find the best stuff — the best so far as their tastes are concerned, their interests.

And because we have nearly a million members, including tens of thousands who collect a lot of videos, you’re likely to find people on Vodpod who share your interests, share your tastes. And through them, you can find great videos you’ll want to watch. You can browse through and watch their collections, and “follow” the people you really like so that you get notified when they add new stuff you.

If you’re interested, you can build your own channel so you can share videos you find on the web with your friends or peers.

How is Vodpod different than YouTube?

The main difference is that people upload video to YouTube; on Vodpod, they collect video from around the web.

Why does that matter? On Vodpod, you’re seeing the very best videos no matter where they are hosted. You’re more likely to find and watch videos of interest to you because you’re watching videos, selected by people on Vodpod for their channels, who share your tastes and interests. Including YouTube videos — in many ways, Vodpod is the best place to find and watch the best YouTube videos.

How is Vodpod different than Facebook?

On Facebook, you’re sharing photos and links and videos with friends, and seeing photos and links and videos your friends share. Some of the things your friends share may be interesting, some not as much.

On Vodpod, you’re watching videos not (only) from friends, but from people who share your tastes and interests. People you might not know, or have never heard of, but who are really really good at finding the best videos. So you’re more likely to find and watch videos you like.

How is Vodpod different than Twitter?

On Twitter, as on Vodpod, you can follow people who share your interests and tastes; not just people who are your friends.

But on Twitter, you’re seeing links to lots of things — photos, blog posts, videos, websites. People you follow might be good at linking to the day’s best blog posts (or, at promoting their own!), but they might not be that good at finding and linking to great videos. That’s what people do on Vodpod.

Also, people are building collections on Vodpod. It’s rarely you go back and look at someone’s “tweets” — but on Vodpod, if you’re in to music, you might get lost for hours watching a collection like this one.

The bottom line is this: if you like watching video — and let’s be honest, who doesn’t — there’s no better service or site for you than Vodpod. We’ll connect you with people on Vodpod who share your tastes and interests, and through them you’ll be able to find great, interesting videos relevant to you and your tastes. From YouTube, and from 10,000s of sites. And, if you’re inspired by them, you can build your own channel and provide the same service for your friends, and for anyone else who share’s your interests, your tastes.

Our Latest Widget

Say hello to our very latest widget, one we’re calling the “Vodpod Social” widget.

It’s designed to show off not just your video collection — but the community around it. That is, the people who are following you on Vodpod.com.

Get it here.

This particular widget is not yet enabled on wordpress.com — but stay tuned, we should have that working next week.

Vodpod on the iPhone and Android

Today we’re excited to announce Vodpod is on the phone, with mobile apps available for both the iPhone and Android phones.

We don’t want to get all Steve Jobs on you, but these new apps offer a revolutionary — dare we say it, magical? — way to find and watch video, no matter where you are.

At the heart of each app is our feed — a stream of videos collected, recommended, or commented on by the people you follow on Vodpod.  Following Vodpod collectors who share your tastes and interests introduces a great new way — the best way, we think —  to find and watch video from 10,000s of sites on the web. It’s social video discovery. And the feed you get when you follow folks on Vodpod is particularly well-suited to the mobile world.

Tapping on a video thumbnail in the feed will take you to a video page, where you can see more details about the video, and collect, comment on, or recommend it — right from your phone.

Oh — and you can watch the video, too! On Android 2.2 phones and higher, which include support for Flash, you’ll be able to watch most videos on Vodpod. On the iPhone — which only supports HTML5 videos — you’ll be able to watch about 70% of the videos in your feed — including videos from sites like YouTube, DailyMotion, Vimeo, blip.tv, Funny or Die, and The Onion among others. As more sites support HTML5 video over the coming months, we expect that number to creep closer to 100%.

In addition to watching videos in your feed, you can browse your collection from the phone so you can show off your favorites to your friends. You can also upload videos you take with your phone to Vodpod. Nifty, eh?

The iPhone and Android apps were developed by Ali Shah and Kyle Kingsbury, respectively. They’re built on the Vodpod API — so others can build similar apps, or incorporate Vodpod into their existing apps. Ali (an intern with us this summer as part of the True Entrepreneur Corps) and Kyle have written posts about their apps with more technical detail if you’re interested. Ali’s post is here, Kyle’s is here.

Of course, the API and these apps are simply manifestations of our underlying Vodpod service and could not exist without it. In that sense, they’re the product of our work as a team, and illustrate the unique data asset built by our members.

Enough cheerleading. What these apps are really about are watching videos — great videos, from 10,000s of sites on the web, curated and chosen by our great collectors. That device in your pocket just got a lot more fun.

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