Friday, August 18, 2006

ASL, the Lost Experience, and YouTube

"The Lost Experience" is a summer ARG (alternative reality game) meant to keep fans of the ABC television series "Lost" engaged until the new episodes air in the fall. One component has been the search for clues, in the form of "glyphs," strings of characters that can be used to access seventy video fragments, which will in turn eventually be assembled into a bigger picture. Players from all over work together to solve anagrams, codes, and literary and scientific references. Clues have appeared in television commercials, on websites, on phone messages, on t-shirts and wristbands, on the display in Times Square, and yesterday, a clue appeared.... in American Sign Language, in a YouTube video. (The "glyph" is part of the symbol on the signer's shirt; the signer's message does not match the video's voice-over, but instead communicates details for the game's story.)

You can follow how the players responded to this in the comments at The Lost Experience Clues blog. It didn't take long for a few regular players with ASL fluency to be found, and online (partly in chat) they worked on a translation together--discussions have touched on problems such as the video's quality (too grainy for the fingerspelling to be easily read, even in slowed down versions), the signer's distracting attire, the close-cropping of the video (for game purposes, the signer's face cannot be shown, and the gamers have discussed how that hinders ASL communication somewhat). Some players posted slower or false-colored versions of the video, to be helpful. So, hundreds, maybe thousands (the video has been viewed over 1500 times in its first day), of Lost gamers are learning something about ASL, or using what they already know, this week.

Elsewhere on YouTube... recently linked to a wicked New Zealand public service announcement about accessible parking, definitely worth a peek. There's a lot of junk on YouTube, but there's also a lot of potential, like most formats.


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