Archive for ‘Multimedia’

November 14, 2014

LOL targeted search

YouTube is something of a cesspool, with pockets of exceptional quality here and there. Even the higher quality videos have an ephemeral aspect, mysteriously vanishing or being marked Private, from one day to the next. Others succumb to the more prosaic, account suspended due to multiple copyright violations. Illegal uploads of major recording label artists abound, or did. YouTube is also becoming a go-to destination for low-fidelity live concert recordings.

There’s no shortage of fee-based alternatives, so I’m not complaining.

YouTube LOL search algorithm

Google Research developed an aLOLgorithm, “Quantifying comedy on YouTube: why the number of o’s in your LOL matter” to measure YouTube videos’ hilarity. Let’s just refer to it as the LOLgorithm, for my ease of typing. Initially, I thought it was a prior year’s April Fool’s Day post. It isn’t!

I watched three of the five most LOL inducing videos, as determined by the humor-seeking LOLgorithm. I was pleasantly surprised. The LOLgorithm selected videos with themes having universal appeal: A fisherman arguing with a grizzly bear, Annoying Orange, and a charming (well, sort of) video about an Italian man’s language misunderstandings while vacationing in Malta.

Discovery is challenging

Google began by identifying the humorous videos, which is easier said than done.  YouTube’s search engine is not the greatest. I have two theories about that.

First: YouTube was an acquisition. Yes, I realize that many Google services are. There was, still is, a Google Video media player, which offers a better user experience. YouTube just seems… unstable, kludgy. I think, but am not certain, that it crashes less often now with HTML5 than with Adobe SWF.

Second: The content bar is set low. That is, YouTube channel owners can enter any old thing they want as a title, complete with misspellings or contextual mismatches. My current favorite example of an appalling spelling error is a cover of AC DC’s Thunderstruck, performed by The Vitamin String Quartet. The title is listed as TUNDERSTRUK. Looks like the LOLgorithm is working, because that’s what I’m doing now.

Another amusing example of contextual/semantic mismatch is a remixed melody from Brittany. The channel owner is from eastern Europe and thought the song’s origin was Scottish. To make matters worse, he labelled it as dubstep but it was actually hardstyle trance. The comments are full of good-natured corrections, in various languages, and alphabets. I haven’t a clue how any algorithm, even the LOLgorithm, could parse that! Admittedly, it is an edge case.


Google started with the semantic meaning of the title, designated by the uploader, and the video description and tags if provided. Next, they used viewer reactions as indicated by comments to categorize the humor videos into sub-genre.

Viewers emphasize their reaction to funny videos in several ways: capitalization (LOL), elongation (loooooool), repetition (lolololol), exclamation (lolllll!!!!!), and combinations thereof.

A “loooooool” indicates greater viewer amusement than a “loool”. The final step was ranking the selected videos by relative funniness. Google described their approach as follows:

We then trained a passive-aggressive ranking algorithm using human-annotated pairwise ground truth and a combination of text and audiovisual features.

Raw view count is insufficient as a ranking metric, as it is biased by video age and possibly by prior viewer exposure on an external website.

LOLgorithm accuracy

The Google Research blog post is terse. The LOLgorithm seems accurate to me.  There’s an alternative explanation, though. Maybe I enjoy similar videos as many other YouTube viewers, and we’re an easily amused and homogeneous lot?  There’s plenty of pre-selection bias.  In other words, most viewers of YouTube comedy videos have a not-too-subtle preference profile, myself included. For example, I’ve been an Annoying Orange channel subscriber on YouTube since 2010.

The video about the Italian tourist reminded me of a literary passage that is hilarious.

Have a look. Maybe it will elicit a LOL or two from you.

March 6, 2012

Cleaning up for Honeycomb

It is year-end, December 31, 2010.

While everyone at Google enjoys the holidays, someone is still working late at night to gear up for Honeycomb.

Who could it be?

Notice the cleaning bucket that hard-working little Android is using. Yes, it is covered with those distinctive Erlenmeyer flasks that Google Labs was so fond of using.


This predated the closure of Google Labs by nearly a year.

Cleaning up for Honeycomb by Evoreto UG (haftungsbeschränkt):

Our 3D Android is based on work created and shared by Google and used according to terms described in the Creative Commons 3.0 Attribution License.
This is no official ad and neither related nor endorsed by Google.

Music: Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy, Kevin MacLeod (
Licensed under CC/licenses/by/3.0/.

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February 1, 2011

YouTube Video Scavenger Hunt

YouTube – Broadcast Yourself included a hyper-linked line of text at the bottom of my search results today. It read something along the lines of “Discover video treasures on YouTube”.

What could be described in such glowing terms amongst the mess of poor quality content, or poor quality recordings of high quality content, that constitutes much of YouTube? “Video treasures” evokes the phrase “national treasure” which is such a contrast to the petabytes and exabytes of inane user comments attached to most videos, regardless of the associated video’s (sometimes worthwhile) content. Well, I clicked and saw a page with the heading,

YouTube Topics on Search Beta

and the following announcement:

YouTube Topics is a new way to explore the worlds of videos on YouTube. After you opt in, when you search for something (“funny” for example) you will see topics related to your current search displayed at the top of search results and next to individual videos. You can click on these topics to switch to that topic on search.

You can also add a topic to your current search by clicking on the  + sign that shows when you hover over it. Each new topic you click will give you new results to explore.  Here’s a query to start with, so you can see how it works:  camera tricks

You may have noticed a “golden topic” when you tried this. We’ve scattered topics across the site for you to find (including this one), and if you can find and click on them all, you’ll unlock a special YouTube Logo to prove your puzzle prowess.

For more clues about the golden topics and for other questions you have, read this article in the Help Center.

An advisory that I am currently not opted in to Topics on Search Beta, and must Click here to opt in, is at the end of the page. I will opt in. I feel a bit uneasy in light of Facebook’s announcement (and rumored retraction) that it would release users’ names, addresses and phone numbers to 3rd-party developers unless the user opted out. I do not use Facebook. Also, I trust Google significantly more than Facebook! Plus I checked the URL associated with the Click here and it appears to be genuine!

My next post will advise whether or not this scavenger hunt for “golden topics” is worthwhile, or the goal attainable. Perhaps I will even have that intriguing “special YouTube Logo” to display, as proof of my puzzle prowess…

January 15, 2011

YouTube Tornado Spectacular

How to Search on YouTube

How to search

Looking for a tornado video, of any length, with newsworthy content?

Search query example and results via YouTube Press and Broadcasting information page.

search results on YouTube

Search Correctly to Find This on YouTube


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