Saturday, January 19, 2008

Review: Miro

Miro 1.1 from the Participatory Culture Foundation

A couple of months ago I installed version 1.0 of Miro. What is Miro you ask? It's probably best described as a video podcast feed aggregator. With it, you select from over three thousand "channels" (feeds) and it monitors and automatically downloads new programs as they become available. Once downloaded, Miro provides a full screen viewing experience using its own integrated player based on the popular Xine engine. If you have a complete set of codecs installed on your system, you can pretty much watch any web video. The breadth of available programming is remarkable, everything from the wonderfully thoughtful TED Talks to the wonderfully silly Tiki Bar TV. Shows from the major networks are conspicuously absent though there are some entries from PBS, Discovery Channel, Science Channel, and National Geographic.

Miro is an open source project sponsored by the Participatory Culture Foundation. Their goal is to create a truly open platform for Internet television, allowing anyone to publish and view on-line content. This is an important front in the battle for freedom as I, for one, do not look forward to a future where Internet broadcasting is dominated by the handful of media giants that control most content today.

To use Miro, you need a fast computer. As the program is mostly written in python and uses various components from the Firefox web browser, it consumes a lot of CPU cycles particularly during its download process but if you have sufficient hardware, Miro provides a rich addition to your Linux system. Miro is multi-platform (Linux, Windows, MacOS) and is available here.