In 2007 and 2008, I worked on a project called vLinkr. What follows is a write-up of the initial idea and a few screen caps from the prototype.




vLinkr’s mission is to enable online media publishers abilities on-par with YouTube and Brightcove while hosting media on their own server on their own terms.

To this end, vLinkr is developing a suite of open source audio and video publishing tools that integrate with popular open source content management systems (initially WordPress and Drupal). Since these tools will be open source, it is hoped that others will help to improve and extend these tools in both functionality and platform reach.

Serious yet small media publishers are under-served by video sharing sites along the lines of YouTube. YouTube in particular is geared towards lower quality, extremely short, often copyright infringing media. Many of these sites follow suit and furthermore retain rights to re-use the media which can be problematic.

On the other side of the spectrum exist companies such as Brightcove whose products are geared towards high end media producers. These tools offer significantly more functionality in the management and control the publishing of online media that larger media companies require. Unfortunately, these tools and services involve significant cost that is often beyond the reach of small media publishers. Also, these tools are often not on the forefront of available technical and social capabilities, rather focusing on generating additional revenue for existing media assets.

vLinkr’s suite of tools seeks to offer a no-compromise solution that is both packaged and open source. (Support and professional services may well enter into this mix.)

Along with the features offered by social media sites (sharing, cross-posting, podcasting, transcoding, ad insertion and commenting) vLinkr seeks to help invent a new type of online media involving audio and video.

The features that currently exist on social media sites can be thought of as retrofits of existing “Web 2.0” technologies onto audio and video content. Unfortunately, these features surround the content rather than integrate with the content. A large part of vLinkr’s mission will be to prototype and release technology that seeks to crack open audio and video and help to make it parse-able, internally searchable and generally more internet like than television/radio like. vLinkr seeks to make audio and video on the internet more than just audio and video on the internet.

One issue with the type of distributed media publishing that vLinkr seeks to support (as opposed to aggregated publishing such as occurs on sites like YouTube) is that the media and is not indexed as well which can make it less “findable”.

This leads to the second portion of vLinkr’s service which is a centralized media data aggregation service. Using existing content syndication and content update infrastructure (RSS and pingback), this service will index most major online media publishing sites along with any individual media site that someone wishes to be added. Additionally, it will leverage the enhanced capabilities of the vLinkr publishing tools increasing the available metadata (audience viewing behavior, comment indexing and so on). These enhanced capabilities will attempt to be standardized so that other developers of publishing tools may generate this enhanced metadata and submit this enhanced metadata as well.

This data aggregation service while offering search and browse capabilities is not intended to be a destination or gateway site, rather it will be primarily used to offer a second set of tools that a media publisher may use on their site to offer search and related content. This will bring the capabilities available more in-line with those offered on existing social media sites and making distributed media more “findable”.

vLinkr believes that competitors in this space (Google Video, Blinkx, MeFeedia, Yahoo Video and so on) make the mistake of bringing the indexed content into their site. vLinkr believes this is somewhat unethical and may be considered copyright infringement. vLinkr, on the other hand will not display the media rather it will just index and link to it therefore helping those using vLinkr tools (and compatible tools) make their media more relevant and findable.

The centralized vLinkr service will have significantly lower infrastructure needs than it’s competitors and will be able to move quickly towards enhanced capabilities not having to house and transcode the media itself.

In terms of capital generation, this data in aggregated form may be sold to advertisers, marketers, media researchers and other interested parties. It may also be used to help target ad placements in content generated by vLinkr users should those users decide to allow advertising.

Any and all feedback or inquiries are encouraged and appreciated.

Video Comments – Revisited

A few years ago, John Schimmel and I worked on an in-time commenting system for video. Specifically we made a WordPress Plugin that interfaced with the built-in WordPress commenting system including user authentication, spam prevention, and so on.

Unfortunately, it no longer works out of the box because we used the QuickTime plugin for video and support for that is waning in the browser space.

Yesterday, I did a quick and dirty update to allow the plugin to use HTML5 video rather than QuickTime. To my delight, it mostly works: Video Commenting Test (try in Safari or Chrome as the video is MP4/h.264).

What still needs to be done is to update the Admin interface to allow multiple video sources and mime type selections for HTML5 video and removing the QuickTime specific portions.

Also, I would love to put an HTML5 canvas on top of this and let people make spacial in-time!

If you are interested, I put it up on GitHub (make sure you use the html5 branch). Pull requests are welcome!

The Secure Smart Camera App for Human Rights Video : Video For Change :: A WITNESS blog

Bryan at WITNESS put up a blog post concerning the app that I am working on along with other Guardian folks.

The Secure Smart Camera App for Human Rights Video : Video For Change :: A WITNESS blog.

It’s worth a look if you are interested in the intersection of human rights, mobile technology and citizen media. It’s an open source Android project too!

The problem with delicious

I recently heard (well, read on a listserv) from a couple of folks I know that were looking for an alternative to Delicious.  These people have a lot invested in their bookmarks but are finding it difficult to re-find them for various reasons and have therefore decided to move on.

I too have been having that problem as of late.  Perhaps I am not careful enough to put every tag in that I should for every entry, perhaps I am not consistent enough in my tagging and so forth.  While I could blame myself, it seems there are a couple of things that could be done to help me out, for instance, if I bookmark something, perhaps allow me to search not only the tags I have entered but also the top tags as many people do a better job of tagging than one.  That’s the power of the crowd, no?

I know, I know, Delicious gives me the opportunity to use the top tags when bookmarking.  Unfortunately, the main way that Delicious has been failing me is not recognizing when I am linking to something that already exists because the URL is slightly different therefore not giving me the opportunity to use those tags.

I spend a lot of time reading articles in the times, some of them directly from the site, some of them via RSS and many of them via email (from various news alerts that I have setup).  Each of these methods, visiting the same story on the times site yields a slightly different URL ending:






Here is the main URL for an article which is the base but could contain any of the above at the end:

It seems that I generally come upon NY Times articles in a different way than most other Delicious users as they never seem to be previously bookmarked.  Strange..  

Doing a tag search on Delicious for something obvious in the arlticle: “nytimes” and “seeclickfix” illustrates the problem:

There are at least 11 different entries with slightly different URLs..

Since mine will be the 12th version, I won’t have the benefit of having any tag suggestions from previous bookmarkers. This makes me sad and it probably means that I’ll never find the article again.

Come on..  Delicious..  I know it is easy to fall into the void when you are purchased by a company such as Yahoo but someone there must care a little bit..

Podcast Aggregation..

I was just looking through the feeds that I subscribe to in iTunes (audio and video podcasts) and noticed that every single one of them had a little exclamation point next to it indicating that it stopped updating as I haven’t watched or listened in a while.

This is interesting for a couple of reasons. First, I really really do enjoy watching and listening to many of these. Second, I have listened and watch some of these recently, just not through iTunes (or my iPhone). Most through their website or through online radio (NPR shows on WNYC).

With broadband pretty ubiquitous and even phones being able to be used for listening to or watching online audio/video, aggregators are becoming much less useful (and increasingly wasteful when considering bandwidth usage).

Since really the only reason I still have to use iTunes as an aggregator is to sync things to my iPhone for viewing on the subway (where I don’t have network access), I decided to pare down the list quite a bit.

What I took off and instead will just watch/listen to online:
Alive in Baghdad
Ask A Ninja

(and a bunch that are defunct such as Boing Boing Boing, EFF Line Noise, The Show with Ze Frank, We Are The Media, WGBH Lab Showcase, <sniff>)

What I left on for iPhone consumption (mostly audio since I typically am doing something else like email on my iPhone on the subway):
Joe Frank Radio
NPR Science Friday
On The Media
The Onion Radio News
The TV of Tomorrow Show with Tracy Swedlow
They Might Be Giants Podcast
StreamingMedia.com Podcast
TEDTalks (Video)
This American Life

I also have a bunch that I haven’t decided yet for one reason or another. Mostly they are done by friends of mine and I just love to see their updates (bandwidth and space be damned):
Tech Trek TV, pouringdown, Ryan is Hungry, momentshowing, jonnygoldstein.com

(Nothing here is new, just wanted to take note of it)

Rant and Roll – T-Mobile/WMV/3GP/MMS/Developers and more..

It has been one of those days, things just haven’t worked out..

I have a mobile video blog over at mobvcasting.com and a public one over at mobvcasting openvlog. Generally I use T-Mobile for service and Nokia phones for posting. At some point in the past month I was handed a very nice Nokia N93 that shoots great video. Unfortunately, within that same period of time, T-Mobile decided to implement an automatic conversion from the original format that these phones use to Windows Media. While this is not totally unreasonable (even though QuickTime plays 3gp and 3gpp files back just fine) I would have preferred that they didn’t do this (partially since I am a QuickTime fan, partially since I want the original files and partially because it broke all of my applications). What really gets me though is that T-Mobile just made this change without any kind of notification nor any means to contact people who know anything about it. On top of that, it seems that their developer.tmobile.com site has disappeared which further dashes any hopes that I had of contacting responsible engineers.

All right.. Enought of that..


I put up a quick quality comparison between the original from the camera and the re-encoded version I get from T-Mobile via email. You can see it on my mobvcasting vlog.