Video Bomb, a product of the Participatory Culture Foundation, is the latest in a series of components that allow us to build a distributed video infrastructure. Video Bomb works by taking submissions of links to online videos (they strongly recommend that you link your own material, but they're happy to link to the myriad "viral" videos floating around on the web), then allowing people to both tag the submission with keywords and "bomb" it -- that is, recommend it to other users -- so that the highest-rated items float to the front page. This sort of collaborative filtering is fairly commonplace, but it's a reasonably good way to bring interesting items to broader attention.
If Video Bomb just provided a collaborative linking & filtering tool, it would be interesting but not particularly worldchanging. It goes further, though, by making RSS feeds for the videos. Each tag has its own feed, and any video a user "bombs" goes into the RSS feed for that user. They describe the concept as being akin to making your own Internet-based television station, and that's not far off. In a matter of minutes, one can set up a "channel" (an RSS link) that shows items selected by a particular person or using a particular tag.
So how about a "WorldChanging" channel?
As an experiment, I've gone ahead and submitted as links a few of the videos we've pointed to the in the past, and tagged them all with "worldchanging." Now, anyone who tags a submitted video with "worldchanging" will see it show up on the tag's feed. (At the time of posting, the RSS feed for the worldchanging tag had not yet been activated; I'll change this message and add a link when the feed functions.) I don't know if this will be useful or not, but it seems worth trying.
The combination of RSS and user-submitted video has some serious implications. This tool could be used to make a rudimentary version of the "Earth Witness" project, or become a home-grown participatory panopticon site.
What Video Bomb doesn't do is host the videos for you. Submissions have to point to a file on a server somewhere else. That's not a big problem for stuff like the videos I just added (from NASA and elsewhere), but may be a bit tricky for people's own video projects. A small video and a few visitors? Not a problem. A big video that gets popular? Suddenly you're looking at big bandwidth overage charges. Fortunately, we've pointed in the past to projects like Ourmedia and Google Video, which allow users to put their videos online for free, on servers with more bandwidth than they know what to do with.
So here's how it all works together:
If you decide to give Video Bomb a shot, tell us the URL for your account RSS in the comments.
Just when I have time to look at the Digital Witness project in more detail. Awesome timing!
No offense, but these folks are hardly innovators. CommonFlix.org has been doing all this for over a year, with bittorrent hosting, micro-commerce and more.
VideoBomb has more "web 2.0" graphic design, though.
It's more than graphic design- the usability is far better. CommonFlix has a very geeky feel to it, it's crowded with text, doesn't show stills of the videos or let you play the video in the browser (ie, it opens another browser page).
They'll get the digg treatment slashdot received. How many of these are we going to need before we take design, usability and community seriously? Innovation happens there too; it's not just a competition for technical features that will win the web.
My friends and I have been waiting for this kind of technology for thirty years now. Werner has been videotaping all throughout that time - ecological innovators and their projectds, lectures, political hearings and demonstrations, art, family, all and sundry. Now he is beginning to put them online. He has some of my stuff up now at his site, http://energyvision.blogspot.com.
We're putting together our team to do open source eco-invention online through video and regular blogging and any other tools we can think of. I just hope that we're in time.
This is cool. Sounds a lot like what NowPublic has been doing for the last year.