When we watch movies, we’ve been trained to watch them with as little distraction as possible.  Our minds are focused on the story, so we don’t miss anything.  But maybe you start wondering who that actor is, or what the film is referencing, or go to a place that you have a huge amount of interest in.  Maybe you’d like to learn more, but you don’t want to miss part of the movie.  Well, there are people working on that.  Recently, in San Francisco, coders behind the HTML5 media framework Popcorn.js, an effort from Mozilla, teamed up with six groups of documentary filmmakers to experiment with an interactive web video experience where viewers can watch a film and be prompted to learn more in the least intrusive way possible.

The Popcorn Hackathon

This is all part of Mozilla’s teaming with Independent Television Service for the recently-announced Living Docs Project.  The goal is to find a happy medium for documentary filmmakers to show their film, but use all the tools on the Internet to help viewers learn more and become more active participants in the movie.  So a viewer can be watching a film or video and it has the capability of calling up Twitter and Facebook feeds at the appropriate times, or news feeds, or other videos that support the content, but trying to turn the trick of not being intrusive.

Here is the video of the “Living Docs Hack Day”:

While the meeting, called the “Popcorn Hackathon,” used documentary films, probably because there are so many directions and content to use for such a medium, the goal is to try to make any video interactive in the future.  Yep, even the common cat video or bad karaoke night video can one day use this.  It seems almost like a scavenger hunt, with video.

I’m still not entirely certain how the interactivity works to where it’s not completely intrusive.  I mean, you still have to divert your attention away from one thing to go to another in a lot of cases.  But everyone is not the same when they watch movies or videos.  I know when I watch a movie, I’m always picking up my iPhone and looking up the IMDB for actors, directors, and writers, sometimes heading off on tangents.  Sometimes there’s a fact mentioned and I wonder how true it is, and I start trying to find supporting evidence.  In the future, if I’m watching something on the web, all the side information may be there waiting for me a click away.

Popcorn is still a work in progress and isn’t exactly “right around the corner,” but it will likely be here sooner than you think.  The creators of this claim in the Wired article that they want to make this “as common a tool as Final Cut Pro.”  Information overload has never sounded like so much fun.