<videovortex> multitude.tv: A YouTube parasite - Matthew Mitchem’s response
sethkeen at internode.on.net
Tue Jan 1 11:44:48 CET 2008
multitude.tv: A YouTube parasite
Here is Matthew Mitchem’s response to some questions I sent him about
the multitude.tv project - http://www.multitude.tv/ Matthew is
presenting at the Video Vortex conference on the Alternative
Platforms and Software panel (Amsterdam, January 18/19).
SK - I am interested in the differences you are working on addressing
in contrast to the way YouTube operates as part of offering an
alternative. Along with the political motivations and undertones.
MM - Well we're not entirely disconnected from Youtube, rather per a
bit parasitic on it. YouTube is related to multitude.tv as more or
less one host amongst other platforms. This is largely to reduce
bandwidth, but also to exploit those particular platforms out of
their own context. YouTube, I think, is an "alternative" largely in
relation to "old media" particularly television. On the Internet
YouTube (and other major hosts) are really large databases each with
their own rules, and their own relations to each other and old
media. I would agree with Geert that when we talk about YouTube were
largely speaking of video on the Internet (not that this is accurate,
but it is easy).
Then of course, multitude.tv has obvious activist undertones, There
is with many members of the site an activist history, my personal
history in this regard is largely tied up with a kind of late 1990s/
early 2000's Midwestern situationism of an "Adbusters" flavor.
Less, and perhaps unrecognizably political, is the broad range of
interest, philosophy, art, science (lifted from Deleuze & Guattari's
"What is Philosophy") and global, cultural, and media (arenas of
activism). These aren't the only reasons for these organizational
choices, but this example reflexes some of the thought behind them.
I think these are all intense points of political intersection,
though not necessarily partisan. Also with Deleuze, and against
Badiou, I would resist counting politics amongst the "disciplines" of
"Philosophy, Art, and Science".
In some ways I think this capacity of multitude.tv to be parasitical
of the YouTubes of the net differentiates it from YouTube, and that
it is healthier for the functioning of the site (in terms of database/
directory load) to be parasitical is not without import. This I would
suggest is part of its malleability.
Another consideration in organizing multitude.tv is a consideration
of the flows of integrations on the site. For example, all of the
comments are run through the same component as the forums
(Communicate). While some information is less integrated (user
profile information for example). There is also, in contrast to
YouTube, a relatively transparent editorial organization, editors are
more active members of the site who express interest in being editors.
Currently another site member and I are putting together editorial
guidelines. All of this of course operates on a different
organization than membership of YouTube. On YouTube members are more
or less equal (there are corporate and promotional exceptions), but
barriers to adding different kinds of content on multitude.tv (I
don't like it, it is managerial and I resist it), and like YouTube
one does not have to be a member of multitude.tv to access most of
its content (user profiles being major exception); and like YouTube
one must be a member to add videos to the site.
However, the content of multitude.tv is placed within an organization
around topics; in this way it acts more or less like a standard web
2.0 collective blog (wordpress, etc), especially in regards to News
items. Furthermore, like those blogs, videos may also appear in the
content. However, we also act as a video-filter for videos appearing
throughout the Internet on multiple sites; bringing them together by
and for a community.
For example, we've recently been bringing together videos on
philosophers, longer documentaries, which are then searchable via the
site; so that multitude.tv can act as a kind of interest filter for
on-line video. (Philosophy professors for example may direct
students to the site) This is a minor use of the site, but one that
is concrete; a use that was an affect of the organization and
presentation of the content.
SK - There seems a lot to work with and explain in relation to the
motivations behind the project and the actual way these work within
the framework of the website. It would be good to get a better
understanding of how multitude.tv works - I read the 'about' and
engaged with the website and wanted more explanation of what is
taking place in this space and possibly how you see it being
developed in the future. i.e. What has been learnt? What is being
seen as a focal point for that development?
MM – Right now, we are busy getting the format of the on-line journal
launched, it will be an on-line journal with Articles, Reviews and an
Art section, replacing the current Articles and Reviews on the site.
The focus of development at this point is to stir registered users to
use the site, and to get new members. We have discussed the
possibility of a conference, and we are participating in various
forums. Though we are hesitant in being overtly political, largely
due to the current polemical nature of politics, particularly in the
US. Ideally the site could be a space for other projects to emerge
from, for collaborations to form; the area called “Collaborate” is an
area for users to create groups. In a similar way that myspace/
faceboook etc work, but with an a priori interest in those fields
through which the site is organized.
SK - In your earlier reference to open source software this could be
seen as secondary maybe to the alternative platform focus - possible
briefly covered as part of working with open source applications and
integrating these with this type of initiative...even looking at the
issues faced in doing this etc...
MM - This is the final major part of the redesign of the site, which
included all kinds of lessons learned about operating and configuring
a CMS, in this case Joomla. Many of the previous components that
made up the old site were replaced... and the redesign went much
deeper than the template. I might want to discuss particular
components operating on the site, especially Seyret, the component
that host and organizes, the video. This component more or less
makes easy the creation of an online video site (much like YouTube),
for free (there is a pro version available with more features and for
a price). It lends itself to various ways of organizing and
presenting videos from all over the net and is the video content
poaching brain of our site. Furthermore it's highly configurable by
the user, our designer did a complete template overhaul for it (and
for much of the site), which was with relatively straightforward
modifications. I should also say that regardless of the parasitical
relationship to YouTubes, multitude.tv can host videos, though we are
limited in format (and unfortunately presently do not support ogg);
and we encourage members to upload/submit their own work to the site.
Thanks for your notes on the 'About' page; I would agree that it is
very ambiguous, and needs to continually be fleshed out, and it is my
hope that as the community expands (slowly) and develops the about
page will change... It is modified about every 6 months anyway, as
strategies and interest moves in the user community.
SK - Some questions - How is editing and posting handled (is there
gatekeeping?) When something is posted by multitude.tv is that one
person or a group?
MM - A post by “multitude.tv” is usually by me, though editable by
anyone in the editorial collective (publisher status on the site).
At one time we did have a more explicit membership structure, but now
it is a reflection of organization and administration access to the
site. I am more or less a fulcrum of the site, more as an
administrator than as an executive; and different projects of the
site have more active participants (I work principally with one user
for design, a few others for editing, another for publishing of news
items, and a few folks for translation, and one user that watches
where our traffic comes from). I largely address technical concerns
myself and don't bother anyone until I can't do anything more, though
volunteers are always welcome. I don't enjoy multitude.tv being
referred to as my project, or my site, and I have a resistance to too
much organization, and the "lessons learned" are all about making
concessions to organization, and trying various strategies. It
should also be noted I am not the only person with access to the
backend structure of the site, there are other administrators. One
has to be an idealist on some level to experiment like this...
Thanks a lot, I get a great deal out of thinking and writing about
these things... We made the forum "multitude.tv" in the Communicate
section (viewable when signed in) to discuss the site itself,
discussions like this (though the forum has been fairly mute)…
sethkeen at internode.on.net
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