Archive | July, 2005

Easy Web Video Publishing

Steev points out two good open source web applications–Broadcast Machine and Osprey–for easily uploading and sharing video, either by downloading directly from a server or with BitTorrent.

I’m interested in this not just because of its obvious use for independent media, but also because I’m trying to set up a video portal at work, so that anyone at the university (or even on the internet) can see what video we have available for streaming in all subject areas we produce video for. Due to copyright and other restrictions (like privacy concerns), we can’t make every video available to everyone. But I still think it would be very good for people to see what is potentially available for instructors and students.

We have a very simple pilot database already in development, but it seems to me that it would be nice not to have to re-invent the wheel. Further, one of the applications, Osprey, uses a standard metadata scheme based on Dublin Core.

The value in using a standards-based metadata scheme is that we could more easily integrate our database of materials with others, inside our outside our university.

I think we may do a test install of Broadcast Machine, and may try out Osprey, too.

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It’s Not About Choice Alone, but How Many Choices; or, Is There Truth in Legislation Naming?

Media Access Project’s Howard Feld give us his assessment of the so-called “Broadband Investment and Consumer Choice Act” recently introduced into Congress:

I’ve just read through the “Broadband Investment and Consumer Choice Act” (72-page pdf available here) introduced by Senator Ensign (R-NV) (and co-sponsored by Senator McCain, to my intense disappointment). In the name of deployment of broadband, consumer choice, free markets, yaddah yaddah yaddah, the bill strips the states and local governments of any consumer protection function and frees your local monopoly providers to serve you! Oh, and without the danger that your local government might decide to supply a pesky competitor. After all, we wouldn’t want you, the local citizen, to decide to foolishly waste your own tax dollars! We, the federal government, know best! Ain’t federalism grand? Except, of course, when it isn’t . . .

I love the ideology of the “Freedom of choice” as it gets trumpeted in advertising and politics, as if that were the greatest freedom a person could have. In times when the Soviet Union was alive, the meme got replayed perpetually in comparisons to the dearth of consumer choices available to Soviet citizens–no Coke or Pepsi or RC–as exemplars of our American capitalist freedoms.

But freedom of choice is not the same as freedom. Who chooses what the choices will be? Who constrains those choices, and why?

Is it freedom of choice to choose between getting kicked in the balls or kicked in the ass?

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Don’t Be Cowed By Romanticized History

I’ve often heard activists and independent media makers express a sense of inadequacy or longing for a time or place other than now and here, stemming from the belief that it was better then or is better elsewhere.

I addressed that sense of geographical inadequacy in a piece called “The Sense of Place” in mediageek zine #1, which can also be read in the Zine Yearbook #8.

I was therefore happy to be directed (via Guerilla Science) to an article by Bernardine Dohrn, a former member of the Weather Underground, entitled: “Letter to Young Activists: Beware Sixties Nostalgia.” Here’s an excerpt that resonated with me:

At the height of 1968’s upheaval, activists at Michigan State felt dismayed that they were not strong and powerful, like those in Ann Arbor. Militants in Ann Arbor measured themselves unfavorably against the struggle at Columbia in New York. And at Columbia or Cornell or Berkeley, organizers were unhappy that they were not meeting the high bar set by the May Day events in France, where workers and students brought the government to the brink. The challenge now, as then, is living as a radical organizer in your own time, your own place. The difficulty then and now is working away during what the great educator and founder of Highlander Myles Horton called Valley Times. It involves simultaneously acting and doubting.

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Payola Investigation Could Be Leverage for Action on Consolidation, but It Will Take a Lot of Force

According to Broadcasting and Cable (sorry, no free story beyond the summary), Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold connected the dots between radio payola, as being investigated by the NY attorney general. Of course, he’s suggesting legislation, perhaps similar to the “Competition in Radio and Concert Industries Act,” he introduced in 2003.

Similar to the media reform bill recently introduced by NY’s Rep. Hinchey, I don’t think the Democrats have enough Republicans on their side, especially in the House, to get a serious reform bill through Congress right now. But they can definitely use growing public awareness and outrage to their advantage — I doubt many radio listeners are willing to defend payola.

This all can make good leverage when it comes time to actually write the Telecommunications Act of 2006, where a lot of the details get horsetraded and worked out in committee. This works to favor of media reformers because Senate Republicans have been more open to this issue than those in the House, and negotiations will tend to favor the Senate.

But do not get too excited or optimistic — this will be about porkbarrel horsetrading, and the pro-consolidation and rape of the public interest Bush administration is still in power with Republican domination of the Congress. It will be ugly sausage making at its most disgusting.

Yet, the hopeful element is that there should be more public awareness than in 1996, and many Congresscritters will be forced into paying a little more than lip service to their constituents on these issues. Don’t expect miracles…

And don’t stop agitating and making media waiting for salvation to be delivered. It won’t, and we’re going to need the grassroots, independents and the pirates to keep reminding us how much better and just our media environment can and should be.

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