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The revolution will be televised, continued

Related Links


The Participatory Culture Foundation

Toward an "independent, creative, engaging, and meritocratic TV system." Download a beta version of DTV for Mac OS X, as well as the video-publishing software Broadcast Machine here. Free and open-source.

The Participatory Politics Foundation

The political wing of the PCF, Participatory Politics works on software tools and online features that facilitate a more involved and engaged electorate.

Downhill Battle

The activist group founded in 2003 by PCF’s core members, its goal is to use the Internet to build a fairer music industry.

Mitchell Kapor

Home page for the founder of Lotus Development Corporation and donor to progressive technological causes.

Open Source Applications Foundation

Kapor’s group looks to further creation and wider adoption of open-source software programs.

Electronic Freedom Foundation

Nonprofit advocacy group, co-founded by Kapor, working to keep the Internet free and protect your "digital rights."

Creative Commons

Much of the programming on DTV is created under this nonprofit’s voluntary and flexible "some rights reserved" copyrights.

Current TV

Al Gore’s cable network offers a lot of online video content, including independently produced news segments, video blogs, and humor clips.


Created by Andrew Baron and hosted by Amanda Congdon, this video blog uses RSS to distribute its funny three-minute news updates each weekday morning to a growing cult-fan base.

Pancake Mountain

Hipster toddlers rejoice! The best DC cable-access kiddie show Arcade Fire and Henry Rollins have ever performed on is now on DTV.


Other companies are pursuing parallel missions. iTunes, of course, is offering more and more content — music videos, Pixar shorts, vlogs, even episodes of Lost and Desperate Housewives — to play on your desktop or in your new fifth-generation iPod. A start-up called Veoh unveiled a beta version of its Internet TV platform, VeohNet, in August. It uses P2P distribution technology similar to that of DTV, but its on-demand content, which it hopes will someday come from motion-picture studios and television networks, will be supported by ad revenue. In other words, they’re the opposite of DTV.

But in not trying to race, not having to close off its intellectual property from the competition, DTV has a luxury the bigs don’t. "What’s really gonna make a difference for us is, because we’re not trying to make money off it, we’ll be able to do things that just work better," Reville says. "It’s to our advantage that our goal can be purely, simply what’s best for publishers and what’s best for users."

Doing so makes for a media landscape — a culture — that’s simply richer, better, more interesting. "What we’d like to see is everybody having the opportunity to contribute," Reville says. "A system that’s more organic and grassroots, that has that wonderful sort of froth and flow that we’re seeing on Web pages and blogs. And that engagement with culture and society. Many people who started blogs are getting a new sense of participation in their world. We’d like to see exactly the same thing in TV and video and movies."

But he’s a realist. Obviously people have appetites for copyrighted video that DTV can’t offer. "I’m all for open standards," a user commented on PCF’s blog, "but the new iTunes store is going to kick butt, and offer me all the ‘big media’ content you guys likely never will." Reville concedes this, but that’s not the point. DTV’s indie content is meant to supplement, not supplant, existing online media outlets. "The mainstream can be really interesting and exciting and fun," he says. "But we also feel that what the mainstream is can get funnier and cooler and more interesting if there’s more vibrancy and things aren’t being filtered through the corporate boardroom."


DTV’s full launch, under a top-secret new name, is slated for the coming weeks. After that? "I think there’s going to be an absolute explosion of user-produced video and content," says Mitch Kapor. "People’s content. Look at what happened with blogs. Some of it will be junk, but some of it will be really interesting." And, as viewers are more easily able to produce and watch interesting independently produced content, "the whole idea [of] television will begin to change significantly."

In a mass culture, where so much media consists of what corporations think we want to see, DTV is a simple idea that could have big ramifications. It facilitates the finding of programming you otherwise might never find. And it offers a voice. "The more people participate in creating the culture, you get a better democracy, and a more engaged, healthier society," says Reville. "There are all sorts of opportunities opening up, because of the Internet, to change culture and politics into something that goes both directions. Instead of just receiving cultural content, you can be talking back and creating your own."

To access links related to this story, including how to download DTV, read it at BostonPhoenix.com. Mike Miliard can be reached at mmiliard[a]phx.com.

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Issue Date: October 28 - November 3, 2005
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