Democracy – Open Source Vodcast Player

The other night at dinner, I was reflecting on the somewhat disappointing results to date of my family’s experiment to create a PC-based home media centre upstairs in our living room. So far we’ve mostly been plagued by hardware problems, network connectivity problems, TV resolution problems, yada yada. The whole goal of the exercise had been to give my family internet access upstairs in the house without having to have an additional computer station setup, and in so doing introduce them to the joys of user generated content. But since the experiment started after Christmas it has mostly been Dad, me, diddling around with cables and replacement parts.

This started to change recently – now my wife has a queue of requests for, ahem, Bittorrent, and for my birthday on Monday I entertained the crowd with some amusing clips from Youtube. But we really turned the corner last night with Democracy, an open source vodcast player by the brilliant folks at the Participatory Culture Foundation.

In brief, Democracy does for vodcasts what GReader does for blogs – makes it dead simple to subscribe and consume RSS fed video clips, and downloads them in the background so that if you set up the feeds correctly and leave it running, you can have a TV-like experience (except without all the crappy channels and the advertising.) Which I did last night, watching a bunch of episodes from the Jetset show (wow, do I feel old) MediaBerkman and Awakened Voice Learning Centre, who produce a series of screencasts on using various social software tools.

Yeah, I know, nothing that revolutionary here; the Mac guys are all scratching their heads and wondering “iTunes?” I hate iTunes, refuse to use it. So for me, this is the first time a really usable interface for finding and consuming vodcasts on a consumer device has presented itself to me. It’s free. It’s cross platform. It allows you to search Google video, Youtube, and revver directly from the interface, and, if you swing that way, will handle your torrents for you as well. Looks like the dream of tuning out the mass media without totally forsaking the upstairs TV may not be as dead as it first seemed. – SWL

8 thoughts on “Democracy – Open Source Vodcast Player”

  1. Sounds a lot like my experience at home 🙂 I also don’t really want to install iTunes (or Real Player).

    See also Vuze:
    by the makers of the bitorrent app Azureus. Similar to youtube and democracy player.

  2. Doug, thanks for the reference. In checking it out right now, it seems like you have to pay for the content. Is that right?

  3. Hey Frank, I have Joost as well, but here’s what I think is the difference – Democracy is a true vodcasting client, allowing you to feed it any feed with video attached to it. In addition, it acts just as a ‘player’ for any other media you have, plus a torrent client. With Joost, my impression is that you are stuck with the channels they provide, and what they are doing is trying to harness a p2p computing model for a more conventional ‘TV channel/advertising’ model. There is still some stuff of interest in there, but it does not seem like the same thing as Democracy which is really ‘open.’

    Cheers, Scott

  4. LOL, I hate iTunes tool, iPod is cool, but iTune gota be one of the most useless software out there….

    Bittorrent gonna chew ur bandwidth! It also kills HD, so use a smaller (

  5. Sorry to hear you’ve had some problems setting things up the way you wanted, but thanks for watching JETSET. 🙂 You’re only as old as you feel. At least that’s what they tell me before they give me my medication.

  6. Thanks Steve! And for all you oldies out there (e.g. everyone over thirty) I HIGHLY recommend the JetSet show to you; much like Ze Frank’s The Show, it points to a future in which engaging content can be produced by a few talented people on the cheap, and a community built by engaging the ‘viewers’ as participants. It’s great stuff. If only our online courses could have a similar effect.

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