C-SPAN Makes Video More Available


It looks like C-SPAN is now publishing a new index of its House and Senate floor proceedings — The C-SPAN Congressional Chronicle. According to them the video recordings are matched with the text of the Congressional Record as soon as the Record is available. It only includes members who appeared on the floor to deliver or insert their remarks. The text included is what the member submitted. Each appearance has a video link where users can watch and listen to the actual statements. This is great progress!

We asked our grantee, Metavid, to check it out and tell us how far C-SPAN’s new index advances the transparency of what happens on the floor and they reported back that this is a big step, providing a slew of additional timed "metadata" (bill data, index to congressional record) that they can use to enrich their archive. The C-SPAN site is using the Congressional Record with archivists manually syncing up the record with the daily proceeding at per speaker granularity.[1] The closed caption based search which Metavid uses allows people to zero in on matching sections of video quicker but the official record is generally more accurate. Using both should greatly enhance the Metavid search functionality and may help illuminate the revision and extension of remarks that lawmakers are always taking about.

But the video C-SPAN is providing doesn’t currently integrate well into the blogging conversation — there doesn’t appear to be any way to embed it into a blog post. While the footage quality is a big step up from the 120×160 used on the main C-SPAN site, there doesn’t appear to be any broadcast resolution footage immediately available (except if you pay through the nose that their archive/store). Also it seems C-SPAN is in the early stages of populating their content as not all the video is available online yet. The metadata on Congressional Chronicle does not currently appear to be made available in a easily [re]usable format. We’d like C-SPAN to directly make it available in XML, but if nothing else the data can be scraped from the current site and then secondarily made available in XML.

This is a very exciting step from C-SPAN. We hope this progress will continue with C-SPAN making all their government coverage source mpeg2 files directly available like the mpeg2s Metavid has been posting to archive.org. And we hope they expand the Congressional Chronicle archive to include all of the committee video and metadata. This will allow Metavid and other video projects to focus more on high level functionality such as tagging, collaborative video remixing, advanced search, representative/issue syndication etc.