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Wednesday, 30th May 2007

Resource of the Week: Open Source TV

Resource of the Week: Democracy Internet TV
By Shirl Kennedy, Senior Editor

While going through my RSS feeds this week, I happened upon an intriguing item via the Mozilla weblog. Mozilla Corporation's Seth Bindernagel, who manages the organization's grants and donations program, announced a $100,000 grant to a Worcester, MA-based nonprofit with an intriguing name -- the Participatory Culture Foundation (PCF).

According to Bindernagel, Mozilla puts its money behind organizations whose projects "will amplify impact to the community," and that align with Mozilla's primary mission -- "to provide choice and innovation on the Internet." It awarded a grant to Creative Commons last quarter.

So OK...I had to have a look....and what I found was something cool -- Democracy, a "free and open source Internet TV platform." PCF fervently believes "it's a problem that a small number of corporations control mass media." The solution, it says, is "free, open-source, open standards internet TV."

The Democracy platform comprises four components:

  • Democracy Player, which can "(p)lay "Quicktime, WMV, MPEG, AVI, XVID, and more." Clients are available for Linux, Mac OS X and Windows. Read Video Podcast Shootout to see how Democracy Player compares to iTunes as a "video player and video podcast client."
  • Video Bomb, which "(l)ets you make a collection of videos that you find anywhere on the web" and then share that collection via RSS, e-mail or weblog.
  • Broadcast Machine, "software you install on your website to easily publish video files and create internet TV channels (video blogs, video podcasts, video RSS feeds)." It leverages the use of torrent technology to cut down on bandwidth consumption/costs.
  • Channel Guide, "an open listing of internet TV channels-- video podcasts, vlogs, and much more." Currently containing more than 1,000 channels, the guide displays when the Democracy player is started. Subscribe to anything you find appealing via a single click.
  • A detailed FAQ provides more information about the project as well as help with the software and other features. If you've ever thought about creating and publishing your own video -- something more and more librarians and libraries are doing these days -- you'll want to look at Make Internet TV, a guide that provides "step-by-step instructions for shooting, editing, and publishing online videos that can be watched and subscribed to by millions of people."

    Wired Magazine described Democracy Player as "the future of Net video," in a May 2006 article. "With Democracy, a well-stocked BitTorrent tracker, and a little RSS fu, who needs a TiVo?" And the application has been the recipient of ongoing positive buzz around the blogosphere.

    In his blog post, Mozilla's Bindernagel noted that Democracy Player would soon be renamed Miro. PCF, on its website, says it is now offering "customized versions" of the player, which can include "a custom Channel Guide, your own set of default channels, and even an alternate icon."

    The source code, licensed under the GPL, can be downloaded from the development center.

    Related Resources

    ++ Metavid
    Complete video (searchable of the U.S. Congress).

    Metavid is a project which seeks to capture, stream, archive and facilitate real-time collective [re]mediation of legislative proceedings. Metavid makes use of entirely free and open source software and video codecs to make both the footage and the architecture of the site available, accessible and reusable.

    ++ MIT World
    Lectures and presentations from MIT. Currently, "Managing Copyright to Advance Research and Teaching," is being featured. It's a panel discussion led by Ann Wolpert, Director of the MIT Libraries.

    ++ ResearchChannel.org
    Lectures from many universities.

    ++ PBS Video
    Keyword search every word spoken on several PBS programs including the PBS NewsHour with Jim Lehrer and Washington Week in Review.

    ++ Webcasts from the National Institutes of Health

    ++ Web Video Cheat Sheet: List of 80 Video Sharing/Storing Services (via LightReading)


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