February 12, 2009
Miro 2.0: aggregating decentralized video

On Tuesday, the Participatory Culture Foundation launched version 2.0 of their non-profit, open-source internet video player, Miro. A detailed features list can be found at the getmiro.com site and Ars Technica has a fairly thorough breakdown of the pros and cons of the interface.

What is immediately striking about Miro is the ability to aggregate, and share if desired, a library of videos from a variety of sites, platforms, and formats. Users have the freedom to create channels and libraries where broadcast content pulled from NBC.com can co-exist with the lasted vlogs taken from youtube.

This is particularly notable as we keep seeing companies develop proprietary formats in an effort to delimit and centralize how and where people use, view, and circulate content. It is therefore refreshing, and necessary, to see a group embrace the dispersed and decentralized nature of the internet, and develop tools that allow people to navigate and aggregate content in a spreadable media environment in a way that encourages the spread of content across a numerous of platforms and communities.

What makes this particular approach possible, of course, is that Miro's developers are devoted to a resolutely non-business model. Miro relies heavily on volunteers and adheres to a strict profit-free policy, modeling themselves after Mozilla. Thus, with accessibility and democratization of online video as its central priority, Miro provides users with the ability to collect and share content from an increasingly diverse range of cultural materials. As if we follow the logic that in the current landscape, the sites of distribution and consumption of media are becoming more and more central to the production of meaning and representation, Miro then presents itself as a powerful new tool for audiences.