Although podcasting may be all the rage today, web-watchers are keeping their eyes on
vodcasting —video on demand downloaded to your computer via RSS. Think of it as podcasting for video, or TiVo for Internet video. Essentially vodcasting will allow you to automatically download videos from across the web to your computer and watch them at your convenience. iTunes already supports vodcasting, as do several other applications, including a new product now in beta from non-profit
Participatory Culture called DTV.
DTV allows its users to subscribe to video channels, and download all the content from those channels as they become available. Channels are typically RSS feeds with video enclosures, and can be produced by anyone. New vodcasters can add their channels to DTV’s open channels page to have their content included.
Likewise, in addition to the preset channels included with the application, DTV users can add channels produced by independent content producers and major publishers alike. Users can even enter a website’s URL into DTV and the app will scrape the site for videos.
“We wanted to create a free and open source broadcasting platform,” Participatory Culture’s David Moore tells Playlist . ” We wanted to create a home base for Internet video that was created in free and open source code and based on open standards. It’s not just that we’re open source, we’re based on the open standards of RSS and
BitTorrent and VLC, which we’re building into future versions.”
Potentially more interesting, however, is the application’s support of Creative Commons licenses. An alternative to traditional copyrights, Creative Commons licenses allow content creators to specify different levels of rights for their intellectual property, from restrictive rights that don’t allow others to reproduce works, to rights that allow others to use and alter creations.
“It recognizes a
Creative Commons license,” says Moore, “when you publish you can choose which license you want to attach. In DTV, you can go into a channel, and DTV will relay that Creative Commons license.” Users can then search for video with various Creative Commons licenses, a potentially useful feature for those who want to re-use Web video for other purposes. For example, a user could search for video with a license that would allow the content to be altered and modified as long as the original source gets attribution to use as B-roll footage for a video project.
DTV is also integrated with the popular social bookmarking site
del.icio.us. Users can create a channel that searches particular del.icio.us tags for video. Anytime someone creates a link to a video with that del.icio.us tag, DTV will automatically grab that video.
“You can take any del.icio.us category, let’s say you’re interested in sailboats or something like that. In del.icio.us you can search for everything with the sailboat tag.You can take that tag, and at the end you paste in “system:media:video” on the end of the del.icio.us feed and then you’ll download all the video content that’s tagged with sailboats,” says Moore.
Currently, DTV is only available for the Mac, although the group states that a Windows version will be available soon.
Mathew Honan is a San Francisco-based writer and photographer. His work has also appeared in Macworld, Wired, Time, and Salon.