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What we mean when we say Open Video

September 5th, 2008 by Dean Jansen

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.

4 Responses to “What we mean when we say Open Video”

  1. [...] After the exciting news about Firefox supporting Theora, the open video codec, I wanted to follow up with more good news. This is kinda geeky stuff, but it’s very important in regards to openness in video. [...]

  2. Dr.Neelesh says:

    Excellent initiative. Sound premises. Good vision.
    And the cherry is the really simple interface on the index page.
    I shall be following you guys closely now. All the best,

    Cheers :)

    Neel.

  3. SteVando says:

    So, in plain English, what is Open Video?

  4. [...] An announcement and appeal by the crew of Miro TV: [...]

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