GNOME Miro Community

30 March 10

Will Kahn-Greene introduces the GNOME Miro community, a website that brings GNOME-related videos to users.

Introducing GNOME Miro Community

In November 2009, I released GNOME Miro Community. I’d just had a hard time finding GUADEC 2009 session videos, and Participatory Culture Foundation had just released the Miro Community curated video collection and search platform. So I decided to create a Miro Community focusing on GNOME-related video, so the next person will have an easier time finding things.

Initially, the site contained GUADEC 2009 session videos with titles and descriptions pulled from the GUADEC conference website, plus some other videos I found on YouTube and Vimeo. Since then, I’ve talked with people in the GNOME community and have been growing the site with video from several places. Already the site provides a valuable resource for GNOME-related video. For example, it’s the one place on the web you’ll see links to:

This article is an introduction to GNOME Miro Community, how to use it, your role in the site, and my hope for its future direction.

What is GNOME Miro Community?

At its heart, GNOME Miro Community is an index of GNOME-related videos regardless of where they exist on the Internet, compiled by an editor, with metadata that makes the videos on the website easier to find.

GNOME Miro Community

GNOME Miro Community runs on Miro Community, developed by Participatory Culture Foundation. The software is built with Django and licensed under the AGPL. PCF stewards development of Miro Community, and hosts Miro Communities for non-profit organizations and groups for free.

Why is it useful?

Last year, if you searched Google for “guadec 2009”, you’d have found a few short videos of events that happened at GUADEC, but no video for conference sessions. Doing a Google search for “gcds 2009” finds the GeekSoc index of all the video files, but that’s just a list of filenames and isn’t particularly usable.

If you did a Google video search for screencasts of GNOME Shell, hoping to learn how far along the GNOME Shell developers are and what it looks like these days, you would see 10 pages of search results. Most of these results are short, soundless screencasts that have no narrative, no indication of what version of GNOME Shell is being demonstrated, and little useful metadata. Half of them seem to cover installing GNOME Shell on different GNU/Linux distributions. How do you find what you’re looking for? How can you see what the status of the project is?

If you want to make a series of marketing videos that explain to the GNOME user base what GNOME 3 is really all about, where do you host it so that people will see it? How do you get around the circular problem where you have to post it on SomeVideoHost because that’s where everyone looks for videos because that’s where everyone publishes their videos because…?

GNOME Miro Community seeks to solve these problems by:

  1. bringing GNOME-related video together in a single index
  2. making sure the metadata for those videos is valid and useful
  3. allowing creators/producers to host video wherever

GNOME Miro Community brings GNOME-related videos together into a single website. New videos can be submitted with the “Submit video” link. You can also use GNOME Miro Community to search for GNOME related videos on several video search sites. (More about submitting videos later.)

When users add videos to the site, I go through the metadata for them to make sure it’s valid and useful. Additionally, I make adjustments based on comments on the video which ensures that metadata will improve over time. This improves search tremendously.

GNOME Miro Community allows video to be hosted on sites that meet the creator/publisher’s needs. For example, videos can be on blip.tv, which supports Ogg Theora and doesn’t have a 10-minute maximum duration, or on Vimeo or YouTube, which have more social-type features. They can even live on your own server—wherever meets your needs.

Much of the site’s value comes from it being carefully curated rather than automatically generated. Miro Communities are moderated by a group of curators who approve and reject submissions and discovered video, edit video metadata, work with the community to create new video, and maintain the site’s focus.

Quick site tour

There are a variety of ways to navigate the site and find videos you’re looking for:

Videos on the site fall into zero or more categories. We add categories as we go along when we find a critical mass of videos pertaining to a specific subject. You can view all the videos in a category by clicking on one of the categories on the site.

You can search for videos on GNOME Miro Community using words found in the video’s title, description or tag fields.

Videos that have been recently published and approved onto the site will show up in the New feed.

Curators choose particularly interesting videos to Feature on the site. They’ll show up in the Featured feed and appear on the site’s front page.

You can subscribe to New, Featured, and category RSS feeds with your video podcast client (Banshee, Miro, Rhythmbox, gPodder, etc.). RSS feeds have enclosures with links to video.

On the video page, you can comment on the video, sharing your thoughts, providing updates, and pointing out problems. You’ll also find a link to the video’s origin (such as its YouTube webpage). This makes it easier to follow discussions that might be spread out across different sites.

On most pages is a “Submit video” link, which allows you to submit videos that aren’t yet listed in GNOME Miro Community. When a video is submitted, it goes into the moderator queue to be looked at. It may spend some time there since this is a volunteer-run site. The curators can update the metadata for the submission and approve or reject it.

When you submit a video, make sure it has the following:

  1. Sound or subtitles that narrate what’s happening in the video. Screencasts that lack a narration are hard to follow unless you already know what’s going on. If the video has sound, make sure the sound is audible and isn’t filled with pops and fizzes.
  2. Useful name and description. It’s important to have a useful name and description for two reasons. First, it makes it easier for someone to know what the video is about before they watch it. Second, when a user searches for videos, they’re searching for words found in the name and description of the video. For screencasts, lectures, and conference sessions, it helps to have the name of the speaker and venue in the description.
  3. Useful tags. When a user searches for keywords, it helps if those keywords are in the tags for relevant videos. Additionally, GNOME Miro Community can show you all the videos with a specified tag.

If you submit a video that doesn’t have the above, we’ll do our best to fill in the details.

Conferences, hackfests, local user groups, and classes often produce a bunch of related videos. We’d love it if you’d build an RSS feed with enclosures and tell us the URL. We can add the URL for the feed as a source. When you add new videos to the feed, GNOME Miro Community will discover them and automatically add them to the moderator queue. This saves you time, compared to submitting the videos one at a time.

The future of GNOME Miro Community

An important part of making this happen is you: your participation in GNOME Miro Community makes it richer for everyone.

If you’re involved in video creation, take the time to submit it or send us an email about its existence.

If you find problems with videos that are currently on GNOME Miro Community, add a comment to the video or send us an email about the problem.

If you’re doing the A/V work for a hackfest, local user group, or conference session, send us an email so that we know about it and can help you get the video on the site.

If there are videos on GNOME Miro Community that you think are important, write about them on your blog and tell others—video is a powerful medium for sharing and it’s important to use.

The work we’re doing on GNOME Miro Community will be reflected in the Miro Community software itself and vice-versa. As the underlying software adds features such as better HTML5/video support, subtitles support, better interface, etc., so, too, will GNOME Miro Community. If you’re interested in helping out with Miro Community development, let me know.

I hope that GNOME Miro Community fills an important gap and makes it easier for us to share our thoughts, our work, and our progress, and educate people about what makes GNOME and GNOME technologies great.

Take a spin around the GNOME Miro Community site today!

About the Author

Will Kahn-Greene works for Participatory Culture Foundation on Miro, promotes Open Video, maintains PyBlosxom, curates GNOME and Python Miro Communities, and contributes to other FLOSS projects.

Discuss this story with other readers on the GNOME forums.