Miro Internet TV Blog - Archive for October, 2009

Miro Community Launches with a Focus on Local Video

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

MiroCommunityWe’re thrilled to announce the launch of Miro Community, in partnership with the Knight Foundation. It’s a powerful way to draw video from all over the web, whether it’s produced by you or someone else, into a highly customizable site that you control.

We are beginning this public beta period with a particular focus on local communities. Over the next couple months, we will be launching locally focused video sites with WNYC in New York, BAVC in San Francisco, Medfield Access in Medfield, MA and several others (see our partners section below for more details on these and others). We are seeking additional partners for sites in other cities and towns. In particular, we are looking for organizations that have a strong local connection, an existing media outlet, and a curatorial focus. Miro Community will allow these groups to add a world-class video site, focused on their local community a virtually no cost and with only a small amount of curatorial work each day. It is an excellent way to extend your connection to your local community. If you are interested in launching a site in your city or town, please be in touch: dean [a] pculture.org.

This New Service
The primary goal of this project is to enable local video websites to quickly develop and flourish. Miro Community gives any person, public broadcaster, or local media access center a simple way to create a video front page for their city, town or region.

Miro Community was born out of the chicken or egg dilemma of hyper-local video: audience first or site/content first. When developing the idea, we realized that most organizations would need a guaranteed audience before they could dedicate resources to building an expensive video site. And likewise, there would need to be lots of interesting video available to community members, in order to attract this regular viewing audience. With this catch 22 in mind, we figured that making it quick, easy, and inexpensive or free to create a robust community video site was a sensible approach. We also realized that most communities have an abundance of video that exists on the web and just needs to be collected where a community could be cultivated around it.

Miro Community Demo for Floyd, VA

The Technology

Miro Community is designed to help people and organizations efficiently create, maintain, and curate a topical or hyper-local site. Videos can come from YouTube, blip.tv, Vimeo, or almost any video blog or site powered by drupal, plone, or other CMS that creates a media RSS feed. Miro Community is Free and Open Source Software (source available here).

We also decided to create a fully hosted version of Miro Community that would require no IT resources. The hosted sites can be located on AnyDomain.com or sub.Domain.com and are fully customizable through CSS. Every site has the potential to be completely branded and owned by the organization that creates it. Furthermore, conversations happen within the community site—positive social norms can be instilled and nasty comments (like the type that sometimes appear on YouTube) can be dealt with swiftly and painlessly.

Anyone can set up a site for free on our beta server.

A Video-Centric Approach

Sites that maintain regular viewing audiences are usually video destinations first and foremost. In other words, websites that integrate video as a secondary function or as an afterthought generally never gain traction as places to go watch video. The most successful video sites and communities are centered around watching the videos; for example, YouTube, Hulu, and the TED conference. These sites each have regular viewers/visitors who come expecting entertainment, enrichment, and engagement. Therefore we developed Miro Community with the idea that a successful community is built around the videos themselves and we didn’t focus on integration or hiding videos behind organizational firewalls.


Miro Community Partners

We’ve partnered up with a lot of great organizations for Miro Community, including WNYC, the Bay Area Video Coalition (BAVC), Economystory.org, the Pittsburgh Foundation and public access station Medfield.TV. WNYC’s upcoming site will expand video coverage of arts and culture in New York City. BAVC and Medfield.TV are leading the way in innovative new understandings of public access, embracing a mission of empowering community media both inside and outside of their studios. Jason Daniels, Executive Director at Medfield.TV, hopes that their site, video.medfield.tv, will particularly attract young people to a new vision of public access, creating connections between their online pursuits and their physical communities. Meanwhile, Economystory.org, a project of PRX, brings together unconventional stories about the American economy, and uses videos.economystory.org to present video stories that might not make it on the radio but are just as fascinating as the latest “Planet Money” coverage. As Economystory shows, Miro Community sites are not just for geographically linked communities, but also for communities of interest.

We’re interested in expanding our partnerships with local media organizations, and helping them jump-start a video front-page in their community. If you’re interested, or know a person or organization who might be, please get in touch: dean [at] pculture.org.

Miro Community has been made possible through a grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

AcaWiki Goes Live!

Friday, October 23rd, 2009


If academia has been filled with walled gardens of content, there’s now a way to smell the roses without breaking and entering. We’re pleased to see the launch of AcaWiki, a collaborative, Creative Commons-licensed, nonprofit “Wikipedia for academic research.” At PCF, we’re big believers in the use of open-source and collaborative tools for education, and making inroads in traditionally closed off academia is a crucial part of ending educational inequality.

AcaWiki allows users to post summaries and literature reviews of academic papers, helping both academics and the general public gain access to the central ideas of peer-reviewed research without having to shell out big bucks for something that may not even be relevant to them. They make use of the important fact that you can’t copyright an idea to spread knowledge far and wide, while retaining the authority of a peer-reviewed process by focusing on materials that have been judged by others in their field.

AcaWiki can be used by those just interested in gleaning a little more knowledge about a variety of subjects, but it can also be used for more specific purposes. Do you teach classes that require students to write responses to academic papers they read? You can have them incorporate their response into a summary or review and tag it with your class name, so that students can benefit from one another’s readings and contribute to a wider body of academic knowledge. If you’re a researcher, AcaWiki is an excellent tool for easily figuring out what papers are worth purchasing or reading in whole.

As we’ve seen with fair use, it’s important to stand up for the rights we already have and make robust use of them in order to develop a truly participatory and thriving culture. Every time you write a summary, you’re proactively standing up for the critical fact that copyright doesn’t cover ideas, and in doing so, you’re ensuring a right to access of knowledge. So support open educational resources by checking out AcaWiki today!

Share That Film with Vodo.net

Monday, October 19th, 2009


Vodo is a promising new project that aims to dismantle the toxic environment of Hollywood PR and film distribution. The venture has already released a fantastic feature film, Us Now, directly to some of the largest video viewing communities online. This particular release has garnered well over 100,000 downloads in less than a week. Vodo aims to have more feature films up within the week.

Start watching Vodo films now with this Miro subscribe link. As always, Miro takes all the guesswork out of finding and downloading bittorrent files.

Jamie King, director of Steal this FIlm II and mastermind of the operation, realized there was an immense amount of attention that could be pooled together from peer to peer communities (both “pirate” and “non-pirate”). He’s using websites like The Pirate Bay, Minniova, and TorrentFreak as a platform to introduce, distribute, and popularize awesome film. While the Pirate Bay is a thorn in Hollywood’s side, it is also home to millions of avid film fans — it’s the perfect place to catapult filmmakers to international recognition. Vodo also aims to create a real relationship between the film creators and audience, hoping to eventually help support filmmakers financially in their work.

Vodo relies on the premise that for many independent filmmakers, piracy isn’t a big concern, but reaching a wide audience is. King reasons that by spreading the films, they are gaining a grassroots buzz that rivals the hollywood machine.

How does Vodo support the creators whose films they distribute? By including information about how to donate to the creator is every file, along with a link to do so directly. All donations go straight to content creators, letting them cultivate a loyal audience and respond directly to their fans. Vodo itself is supported through membership by subscribers, who in return receive access to films being considered for distribution as well as those already available. Subscribers also vote on which of these films should be picked up by Vodo, and have unprecedented access to producers and directors.

So check out Vodo’s truly independent productions for free today! A regular flow of engaging films is on its way, and you can start with Us Now, an appropriately themed film about the possibilities for participatory government. Come be a part of creating a new system that lets artists and audiences thrive.

Miro Video Player

VideoWTF – Keep those Questions Coming!

Friday, October 16th, 2009

camerasIn its first week, VideoWTF has been a great success so far. But the site is filled with so many smarty-pants video folks looking to help out others that questions rarely stay unanswered for long. this is a great problem to have and shows what enthusiasm there is for collaborative projects. It also means that we’d really like to encourage more questions. Remember, whenever you ask something, it’s getting recorded for the future in an easily searchable format. So by posting those video questions, you’re really doing a great service to your fellow video enthusiasts.

We’re also looking for more people for are familiar with Linux-based programs to answer the many questions about open-source and video. If you’re reading this blog, chances are you have an interest in both…

I challenge you to stump video WTF’s community with your toughest questions!

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