A new service is available from the people who gave you the Internet Archive. The new site advertises, "We provide free storage and free bandwidth for your videos, audio files, photos, text or software. Forever. No catches."
Sound too good to be true? Well, in my casual perusal of the site, I don't see anything to contradict the claims.
Quoting from the web site's information:
Come on in, the media's fine!
We are in the midst of the greatest boon in grassroots creativity in ages. Tools once available only to a professional elite are now being taken up by everyday citizens. Just as weblogs let millions of people become part of "the media," so too are new tools empowering individuals to create video, audio, playlists and other works of personal media and to share them with a global audience.
The personal media revolution is turning multimedia, digital stories, video diaries, documentary journalism, home-brew political ads, music videos, fan films, Flash animations, student films - all kinds of short multimedia works have begun to flower. Alas, the most compelling ones are scattered across the Web or hidden away on thousands of PCs, laptops and closed networks. These works deserve a wider audience.
Ourmedia.org is an open source media project that seeks to expose, preserve and advance works of grassroots creativity. Individuals, communities and organizations have begun telling digital stories that enthrall, entertain and often move audiences to take positive action. Plain text or the cool detachment of "objective" media do not come close to matching the emotional power of multimedia stories laced with personal narrative.
Ourmedia is three things in one:
- a destination web site at ourmedia.org that serves as a repository; we offer free storage and free bandwidth for your media, which gets exposed to a global community;
- a media registry based on open schemas that will let other web sites tap into the network and share their own media content;
- soon, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to advancing amateur, hobbyist, semi-professional, and professional works.
Unlike other initiatives that are pure-play stand-alone web sites, Ourmedia's vision is to bring personal media to millions of desktops through playlists, video jukeboxes, visual albums, and built-in media libraries. Members upload works with a range of rights, from Creative Commons-licensed works to public domain works to fully copyrighted works.
(End of quote from the web site)
Ourmedia seems to focus on pictures, videos and audio files. However, there is nothing to prevent you from uploading other files as well. It is designed to be a wide-open sharing environment; everything that you upload is visible to others. That is great if you want to share photos of the new baby with your cousins but not so good for things that should be kept private. In poking around, I saw someone's QuickTime movie detailing a recent trip to New York City with much of it filmed in a snowstorm, pictures of someone else's pet iguana, and listened briefly to some music of questionable quality by an obviously amateur rock band. Another audio file that was briefly amusing was a bit of rap music apparently recorded in some eastern European language that I could not identify. I felt like I was peeking into others' lives but it is all legal.
Ourmedia also supplies a free blog to every registered user. You can use your blog for most any purpose although I would assume that most users would describe and publicize the files that they have uploaded for others to download and enjoy. If you already have a blog hosted someplace else, you can have it linked to Ourmedia.
NOTE: If you are not yet familiar with blogs, see my earlier "Blogs Explained" article.
Ourmedia isn't quite as anarchistic as it first appears. In fact, volunteer moderators keep an eye on things to make sure that files uploaded meet the site's guidelines. The same moderators also keep an eye on comments posted in blogs. Moderators can delete material and comments, suspend accounts or even delete membership accounts. X-rated material, copyrighted material, advertisements and spam are all deleted immediately. The site is clearly for personal media only.
Registration is required and is a bit convoluted to accomplish. You actually have to register at two different sites as the two are closely intertwined. Once registered, you are free to upload your media and to write your blog. Anything that you provide is then visible to the entire world within minutes.
Ourmedia obviously owns a lot of disk space. Remember that the Internet Archive, a non-profit that seeks to keep multiple backup copies of the entire Internet, owns this site. This organization also operates under the name of The Wayback Machine. You can read my article about The Wayback Machine in the September 23, 2004 edition of this newsletter.
I'd suggest that Ourmedia is a great place to share pictures of your great-grandparents and other material that you wish to preserve and make widely available. I believe it will attract many budding artists who wish to display and preserve their works. However, I would never use Ourmedia for anything where I wished to control access to my material. Once you upload a file to Ourmedia, it is very public.
Ourmedia is a free, not-for-profit web site that provides a resource for homemade video, audio, music, text, and public domain works of all sorts. This site is a great social experiment and it should be interesting to watch its successes and/or failures in the next few years.
You can access Ourmedia at http://www.ourmedia.org