Why has no one made something like this? Why is this like many other sites?

When I describe findlectures.com, many people ask why nothing like this exists - well, there are similar sites, although with different motivations. One of the Reddit mods suggested that this was just an aggregator site, so below, I discuss some of the compelling alternatives I've found.

Can you get data from Reddit? Could you use the number of upvotes to tell how good a video is?

Social media sites are good places to get recommendations on good speakers, especially in comment threads on specialty topics (e.g. the Philosophy reddit, Hacker News).

I use popularity on social media as a very, very weak signal, so it only rarely affects ranking. As a thought experiment, assume that the same people who write comments on Youtube are voting on videos there.

There are many reasons to vote a video up or down, that are unrelated to the educational or historical value of a video. For instance, the speaker is a politician who is not in your favorite political party, you don't like his or her hair, you have a vendetta against the account posting the video, you are a bot, etc.

Why don't you have a form to suggest videos?

You can sent videos contact form. There is a cottage industry of apps to spam websites like this. In order to keep the quality of content high, I prefer people to send me notes about what they are looking for - this reduces the volume, and increases the quality significantly.

Second, a social media site that has people vote on their favorite content is a two or three-sided marketplace - you need people to add videos, people to vote on them (and if you're reddit, people to curate them, and people to watch them). This site can be successful without any of those.

That said, if you're managing the youtube channel for a lecture series, university, library, etc, I'd love to hear from you. These are often the best videos out there, and typically people with the best videos benefit from marketing. There are things you can do to make it easier for me to get your videos on the site, but the best is to talk about this site on twitter / your email list, etc :)

What interesting business models are there out there? How do you make money?

Most business models I've seen revolve around high-end training materials, or recruiting. There are a few applications like this that run off grants or sponsorships, but this is typically difficult if you're not backed by an academic institution or a well-known non-profit.

How much did this cost to build? What does this cost to run?

This doesn't cost a huge amount to build or run, but it can't be run for free, either. It does take a huge amount of time. I'll be updating the blog with exact costs, so check there if you're interested.

How do I send you videos? What do I do if a video is broken?

Please feel free to send notes through the contact form. At some point I may offer options to recommend metadata corrections. If you have a lot of free time to watch videos, I love getting ratings from people (e.g. one of the most devoted users shared a Google spreadsheet with me of hundreds of ratings and comments on videos)

Please feel free to send any defects you see with the site - data quality, CSS, errors, etc.

Where did you get the dataset?

I've been looking for interesting talks myself for a long time. At my job, we have a lunch and learn program, and through this program we curated a sizable list of videos.

The actual data is obtained through a mixture of manual extraction and scraping (as opposed to "crawlers", which cast a wide net)

How are you categorizing the videos? Why don't you use the Dewey decimal system?

Much of the categorization comes from IBM's "Watson" (or AlchemyAPI). This looks at transcripts and decides on a "topic" for a video. The taxonomy is one created by the advertising industry.

For automatic tagging, there are many products, but only two taxonomies available: the IAB (ad industry), and a newspaper tagging taxonomy, which has far fewer categories.

The Dewey Decimal system is a proprietary scheme for cataloging books. There are several alternatives (most also proprietary). These are typically licensed to libraries or bookstores, so the pricing models are very strange.

Taxonomies for cataloging books in stores are typically simpler, and friendlier to the end-user. The Thema taxonomy is licensed freely, and covers a much wider range of topics than IAB, so I'm using it as inspiration for improvements, however there is currently no AI software that can tag text to this schema - the software in this space is all built to enable data exchange between book publishers, book stores, and libraries.

Is this just a list of your favorite videos?

This is partly the case - if you want that list, the mailing list is a good places to start. I don't have this for tech videos, so if you want those you'll need to contact me directly.

Many of the video collections on the site include videos I've personally curated. However, these are selected to get a window into topics I know nothing about, or to develop empathy with / compassion for people in different situations in their life.

This is cool, can I help?

Sure! These are the things that help the most: