The latest version of Democracy Player, an open Internet video program that's as easy as a TV and as open as Firefox, has shipped today. This is version 0.9, the last stop on the way to a gold 1.0 release, and it shows in the spit and polish.
Democracy Player uses free software and open protocols to let you subscribe to channels of video that come in over RSS (so you don't have to keep checking to see if anything new is up) and using BitTorrent (so you can download video without bankrupting the people who host it). It plays any video format (using VLC, an open player that ignores DRM and patents and plays back every format it can get its paws on).
The upshot is something that's almost too good to be true: an Internet video player that you don't need to be a geek to use -- or to publish for. Anyone can make a Democracy channel and you don't need to have a big server to push it out. Thanks to BitTorrent, your hosting costs don't go up whether you've got one subscriber or 10 million.
The 0.9 release can tune in over 600 free channels being published by creative people all over the world. 0.9 adds support for Flash video, and comes (partially) translated into 30+ languages. It also supports drag-and-drop for individual video files, making it the only video player you need on your desktop.
(Disclosure: I'm a proud member of the Board of Directors of Participatory Culture Foundation, the nonprofit that produces the Democracy Player)
I asked Amy Parness, the co-founder of Sparkle Labs, maker of fantastic educational electronics kits, to write a Medium post about gender and the business of being a maker business person. Her terrific essay calls out the problems with “pink girly engineering kits.” From Medium:
Zero UI is the new term for “invisible interfaces”—what happens in the future when all the clicking and tapping and typing is history: “If you look at the history of computing, starting with the jacquard loom in 1801, humans have always had to interact with machines in a really abstract, complex way.” [Fast Company]
CEO Dick Costolo will resign, to be replaced in the interim by Jack Dorsey
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