Overlay your content on anything

Matt Davis suggested…

An open source subtitle plugin that allows in-sync tweet-style text on ANY non-text media.

Of course I can’t just link to this idea, I’m supposed to add value…

Commentary on the quality of the books available in a local library in the 60s by Orton and Halliwell
Back in the sixties writers Joe Orton and Kenneth Halliwell were first known for the prank when they defaced books from their local public library.

In the 1970s audiences started partici… pating during midnight screenings of The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

I first heard about Hypertext back in 1986 from Peter Brown. He pointed out that every time academics quote text from somewhere else, a link should appear that will take you to the document from which the quote comes.

The silhouette of the MST3K commentary team
Not long after that, Mystery Science Theatre 3000 started in the US. It was a show featuring silhouettes of people making ad-libbed funny comments in front of a series of terrible B-movies. This was followed by more shows featuring ‘unauthorised’ commentary on content such as The Chart Show (to a small extent) in the UK, Beavis and Butthead and Pop-Up Video in the US.

Videodiscs and latterly DVDs popularized commentary tracks and alternative subtitles. These days you can download fan-made commentaries and alternate subtitle tracks (used by those pirating movies into other languages)

Due to the academic uses hypertext was initially put to, I thought it was mainly used to comment on other people’s work to make attribution clearer. That use has fallen by the wayside. Maybe it’s time to revive the idea.

Wouldn’t it be interesting if people could upload commentary that is designed to be overlaid on top of other content – including video and audio. Instead of linking to a page, video or podcast, the content would appear as a new background for the current page. You would then use a layer on top to comment or add to the content below. If a video or podcast played, the player would pass timecode information to the layer above so that comments could be displayed at specific times.

This example shows a pop-up comment overlaid on top of a video on a YouTube page:
Showing how a page could use another page as a background

You could choose how your overlaid comment would look, and how you’d show which page element is being commented on:
A picture showing the darkened background

As well as text commentaries, you could also add picture, audio and video overlays to any content on any page.

This is just the beginning – a way of creating mashups using HTML 5.X…

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