Miro Internet TV Blog - Archive for September, 2008

What we mean when we say Open Video

Friday, September 5th, 2008

As many of you know, the Participatory Culture Foundation is a 501c3 non-profit organization — a media reform project. A fundamental part of our mission, and the reason we make Miro, is to spread openness in online video.

For many, it’s not clear what Open Video actually is — here’s what it means to us: openness is a state where video has more potential for innovation and competition. It’s a place with fewer restrictions and digital locks, fewer hurdles to block viewers who would become authors. The nuts and bolts of this place are: open video formats, open standards, and open tools for watching and authoring video. This openness inherently brings with it a higher resistance to gatekeepers, greater decentralization, and better interoperability. The ability of the average person to watch, create, and manipulate video becomes much higher — a more participatory culture emerges. Video in this idealized future is actually pretty similar to the text and images that populate our current internet.

Television on the internet, in its current state, is not much more than video on demand. It’s largely made up of centralized and proprietary services that offer streaming-only video. It’s a sort of one-way street, disappointingly similar to our traditional broadcast media. Getting to watch what you want, when you want, is great; however, without a big shift towards more openness, we aren’t guaranteed to see an earth shattering paradigm shift in television-based mass media, like we have with text and image.

Open Video is complex and deserves more attention than we alone can give it. The topic is ripe for a broader analysis, clearer guidelines around what constitutes “open,” more discussion of what’s at stake, and ultimately, more public awareness. In light of these needs, we’ll soon announce some work we’ve been doing to create a broad-based project aimed at accomplishing many of these goals. Stay tuned.

Democracy Now! Producers Violently Arrested at RNC

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2008

Friend of Miro, Amy Goodman, host of the progressive news program Democracy Now!, was arrested yesterday at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota. Two of her producers were violently arrested before Amy rushed to the scene and was also taken in and charged. They have since been released, but none of the charges have been dropped.

The Democracy Now! producers, Sharif Abdel Kouddous and Nicole Salazar, were violently arrested before Amy arrived. The first video is from Nicole Salazar’s camera; she screams “I’m press. Press. Press!” as she and her camera are thrown to the ground. Her nose was bloodied when she was simultaneously stepped on and dragged in a parking lot. The second video clearly shows Goodman’s arrest as she rushes to the scene and peacefully asks to speak with a commanding officer.

All three journalists have been released, but the felony and misdemeanor charges have yet to be be dropped. You can see the above footage with detailed commentary from Amy, Nicole, and Sharif on today’s edition of Democracy Now! (Tuesday, September 2nd). I recommend subscribing to the broadcast quality version of Democracy Now!

Traditional media has largely failed to give proper attention to much of what’s happening outside the convention centers earlier in Denver and this week in St. Paul. There have been other journalists and members of the press arrested, many reports of unnecessarily abusive riot police, officers who aren’t wearing visible identification and refuse to identify themselves, mass arrests of protesters, and so on.

This disturbing lack of coverage reinforces the importance of an open online video/TV system. When the more popular (i.e. mainstream/traditional) shows are more accessible and open, it becomes far easier to integrate independent media into everyday users’ media diets. When things are more closed and less standard, viewers are far more likely to watch the majority of their online video through a single gateway — we know how bad that is for diversity and independence in media.

In the coming weeks, we’ll be talking more and more about openness in online video, what it means, and how to foster it.

PS. Good work and good luck to Amy, the DN! gang, and all the others in St. Paul who are acting as watchdogs and documenting the action. Stay safe!

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