Notes from the Open Video Conference, Day One

Francesca Coppa, Naomi Novik, and head coder Elz spent the day at the Open Video Conference in NYC today. The conference is primarily about building architecture for online video as well as open source software more generally, so you can see why we were interested. (We’re keeping a close eye on the emerging technologies that might make a Vidding Archive Of Our Own more feasable and efficient.)

Some highlights from today’s programming:

Independent Video Platforms: Representatives from various independent video spaces, mostly dealing with issues of social justice or alternative media, showcased their sites. (My favorite was India’s Pad.ma, a beautifully designed digital archive designed to contextualize its footage and work in both high-bandwidth and low bandwidth situations.)

Emerging P2P Technologies: This was a glimpse into a wildly exciting and very near future: streaming from bitorrents. The guys at P2P Next are working on something called the Swarmplayer, which allows you to stream from torrents, which means that you can create a YouTube like video archive with none of the server or infrastructure costs. Imagine a video archive where you can stream or download or both, and where having a popular vid doesn’t kill your bandwidth, it increases your download speed. Imagine being able to watch anything currently being torrented through streaming, on-demand. (You can test Swarmplayer now, though you can only watch two videos; the researchers say we can expect a full version to be released in November, 2009.)

How to Make a Political Remix Video: Political remixer and friend of the OTW Jonathan McIntosh has been showcasing fan vids on his site, politicalremixvideo.com. Now he’s made what he calls a vidding-influenced political remix video critiquing Twilight, Edward Meets Buffy (Twilight Remixed), which he premiered at the conference. Vidders, he’d love to hear what you think, so check out the video (embedded below, or linked on blip, which provides higher quality; vidders might check out blip as a replacement for YouTube or iMeem.)

Job Search: Experienced XHTML/CSS Coder

Job: Experienced XHTML/CSS Coder

Description: We’re now much further forward with the Archive, and we’re badly in need of some front end skillz! The illustrious lim wrote the main style sheets for the Archive, but now that those are in place, we have many other front end jobs. The lovely Flamebyrd has been doing sterling work on some of these, and we’re jazzed about the fact that Hope recently joined us to work on skins for the Archive, but there’s a lot of work to do and we’ve yet to perfect our cloning technology. So, we’re looking for people to work on some of the following:

* Reviewing the design of the site for accessibility and making improvements as necessary. We already know we have some issues in this area, particularly when it comes to ease of enlarging text, and we really want to get it right.
* Reviewing our coding standards and making sure that we have fully standards compliant code.
* Implementing cross-browser compatibility for the site, which is currently only Firefox compatible.
* Finetuning the styling for different parts of the Archive, especially in areas which have been built since the main body of work was done on the CSS.
* Lots of other smaller jobs – you can see some of these in our list of current frontend issues.

Estimated Time Involved: As much or as little as you are willing to give us! We understand real life means people are not always available and you may need to dip in and out at times.

Other Information: Ideally you will be working with the same setup as the Ruby Coders, in which case there will be a bit of a setup process to get all the software tools installed on your system and working. However, unlike with the Ruby on Rails coders, this is not as critical, because if this setup isn’t feasible for you, you can just create static html and CSS files and hand them over to the Ruby on Rails coders to be integrated into the application.

How to Volunteer: Use our contact form to send us the following information:

Your name (you may provide your real name or your fannish name–please consider what you feel comfortable using both inside and outside the organization):

Your email address:

Relevant experience and credentials (fannish and/or real life):

Computer system (hardware — CPU, RAM, disk space — and operating system with version):

Please put “XHTML/CSS Coder” in the subject line.

Send us your information by: Ongoing

All volunteers will receive an email confirming their information has been received; please give us up to five days to reply.

Anyone can contact the Volunteers & Recruiting committee at any time by using our contact form.

Announcing: The Fan Culture Preservation Project!

The OTW is pleased to announce that we will be partnering with the University of Iowa to create a Fan Culture Preservation Project.

The Special Collections department at the University of Iowa already has a strong interest in zines, and is making a concerted effort to collect zines and other artifact of fan culture (con programs and flyers, for instance) in order to preserve them and make them accessible to wider popular and research audiences. Iowa is home to a huge (250,000) collection of science fiction and fantasy zines and APA zines, as well as a collection of Riot Grrrl and Underground Music Zines. Media fandom is not as well represented, and they are eager to collect many aspects of fan culture, including all types of fanfiction.

The first major donation brokered by OTW is the Fanzine Archive, a collection of over 3,000 classic zines previously housed in Santa Barbara–over 62 boxes! The OTW was able to help the retiring archivist, Ming Wathne, save and protect this valuable collection. Special Collections is currently in the process of sorting and boxing Ming’s zines. Soon after that is finished, titles in the Fanzine Archive collection will be listed in a finding aid on the Special Collections website. We are currently helping other long time fans donate their collections to the library.

OTW and Iowa are eventually hoping to explore ways to digitize some of these materials, so that fans who want to see them will have access, even if they can’t get to Iowa. (We are only talking about works where we have legal clearance; both the University of Iowa and the OTW are concerned about fan privacy first and foremost.) The Special Collections department at the University of Iowa is also willing to photocopy materials for a price of about $.25 cents a page, according to their standard procedures.

Moving? Apartment getting too small? If you have zines you no longer want (or more than you can manage!) but want to know they’ll find a good home, please contact the OTW. We can arrange for postage to be paid and for UPS to come to your house to pick up the boxes. You might also consider leaving your collection to the Fan Culture Preservation Project or making arrangements through a friend.

Please help us preserve this important part of fannish history!

ETA: And hey, if you’re in the area, check out the Star Trek exhibition curated by our FCPP partners at the University of Iowa! Where Many Have Gone Before: Re-launching Star Trek, on display only until July 1, 2009.