Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Me Know Miro

A lot of people are talking about this new "Miro" thing, so I thought I'd better have a look.

After doing a bit of reading over at Ars Technica, (see their slightly more in depth story here) I found out that Miro is open-source freeware that's a new and improved version of an older app called Democracy Player. Developed by the Participatory Culture Foundation, (PCF) Miro strives to be an "open, mass medium of online television". Interestingly, PCF is a non-profit organization that survives on donations from people, especially the good folks at Mozilla who donated a hundred grand for their cause.

Anyway, what Miro offers is first and foremost a video media library interface, whose Mac version looks just like another addition to the iLife suite. The cool thing that it does is act like a search engine encompassing many video hosting sites like YouTube, Google Video, Veoh, etc. Then it downloads stuff automatically, (as many as you want at a time) and lets you create playlists and channels. It also supposedly has access to more HD material than anything else, but as you'd expect from something that's free, there's no real standard for quality.

Like most video hosts, Miro gives you a main page with typical random goodies, including what's hot and what's brand new. See also the organizational pane on the left, set up much like iTunes. This arrangement probably varies by version.

PCF's philosophy is based on the idea that companies are scrambling to have control over video distribution, and that that's dangerous for the future of media. I have to agree. In fact, I've decided that I like these people - and their software - a lot. So much that I think I'll support them with a new sidebar button. Miro is available across all major Windows platforms, Mac OS X, and the major Linux distributions, so there's no reason not to check it out. It's also worth noting that they don't feel it's reached a "1.0 release stage" yet, so we'll probably see plenty of improvements to it yet. If you do give it a shot, or even if you don't, drop a comment here and share your thoughts!

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