As Internet video clips proliferate and spread like kudzu, it’s getting hard to keep up on all that’s out there just waiting to be watched. Leave it to the Participatory Culture Foundation, the Worcester technologist/activist collective that created the DTV Internet-television platform (see “The Revolution Will Be Televised,” News and Features, October 28, 2005) to step in and help.
Their new project, Video Bomb, might seem to resemble other video-hosting sites like the suddenly omnipresent Youtube and Google Video. But it has something they don’t. By using a tagging feature inspired by the social bookmarking site Del.icio.us (to find the content you wanna watch but might not know exists), and employing a user-based ranking system like the one pioneered by tech-news digest Digg.com (to let the cream rise to the top), Video Bomb creates a democratic video meritocracy. It’s a place where you can submit clips you’ve found online or content you’ve produced, share them with friends who subscribe to your “channel,” or just watch what’s on offer, giving a thumbs up to the clips you like. The good stuff gets watched, the bad stuff doesn’t.
Here’s how it works. Set up an account at VideoBomb.com (all you have to provide is user name, e-mail address, and password). Then when you find — or make — a clip, hit the “Submit a Video” link. Paste in the URL. Title it, and write a short description. There are no limitations on length or format, but explicit content is verboten.
Once the video is posted, users will “bomb” it if they like it. The top pick at press time, with 187 bombs, was an eight-minute featurette of a dude showing off some jaw-dropping parkour (extreme urban gymnastics). Bombing a clip also adds it to your own “channel,” a selection of videos that can then be subscribed to via RSS and watched on a DTV player (which will finally be released for Windows by next week). “People find videos that they like and become filters for the best on the Web,” says the Participatory Culture Foundation’s Tiffiniy Cheng. “We want to direct people to channels that they wouldn’t ordinarily run into.”
The site’s only been live since last Tuesday, but the 70,000 unique visitors in its first week have submitted and watched a bounteous slate of funny, weird, and educational programming. A guy dressed up as Pac Man being chased, screaming, through a university library by a guy dressed up as a ghost. Leonard Nimoy singing “The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins.” Jesus Christ singing “I Will Survive.” A documentary about organic farming in California. A remix of The Shining trailer that recasts it as an uplifting family dramedy. A cartoon about making clones of Bill Cosby. Aphex Twin and Bloc Party videos. A muckraking documentary about incarcerated kids. An awe-inspiring clip of the best quarters player in the world (really). An old TV commercial for the Church of the SubGenius. Who needs cable?
“Video is the most engaging medium,” says Cheng. “Video cameras are getting cheaper, video publishing on the Web is getting easier, it’s just so easy for people to get involved with video, both in making it and watching it. Video can really do lots of great political things as well as lots of great entertainment things. And they’re getting really, really good. And people are watching.”
On the Web:
Video Bomb: http://www.videobomb.com