Y'all have to check out demogirl. The brainchild of Molly McDonald and her brothers (in my first draft of this post, I actually wrote 'love child' instead of 'brainchild' - ewww), demogirl produces professional quality screencast demos of web services. They've made several hundred over the course of the past couple of years and do a great job of distilling even the most esoteric Web 2.0 service down to the most basic essentials -- what is it, what does it do, how does it work...
While there's nothing quite like hands-on experience, not everyone has the time, energy or patience to test every little application that the technorati buzz about on any given day. This is particularly true as the web continues to splinter in ever-smaller pieces and start-ups introduce ever more esoteric applications in an effort to differentiate from the hundreds of apps already available. demogirl provides nice, quick, digestible introductions that can help you decide how and where to spend your time before taking the plunge into yet another alpha or beta trial.
The demos themselves are simple two-three minute screencasts accompanied by no nonsense voice-over. Think of them as a cross between Matt Dickman's considerably more in-depth inside//out screencasts and Common Craft's animated Plain English clips.
Here's an example:
[Reading this in email or a feed reader? Click through to watch the video.]
The demogirl site is packed with lots of content (I've already found a couple of new-to-me services I may check out) and are always making more. Plus if you're a marketer with a web property or work for a start-up, they're also available to produce paid work for any company that has a web service that could benefit from some 'splainin'.