Planet Miro

Planet Miro.


I’ve been playing around with Miro, one of the very few open source apps listed on Apple’s App Store and an excellent player of audio/visual media. But Miro’s mother group, Participatory Culture Foundation, also makes Amara, as well as other tools that expand the usable effect of the Internet, including crowdsourced material (which is what makes the Internet other than an “official” library).

PCF’s goals are ambitious and realizable. The app itself I use (or am anyway experimenting with), Miro, has some bugs, such as minuscule fonts (and these are dimensions seem opaque to alter), as well as other UI shortcomings. There’s too much going on, for instance, and most of it is not interesting, in that it is not actually related to the task at hand, e.g., listening or watching or playing games. As well, and more up my alley, though Miro is open source and the project itself is not business nor ad shy, it’s still oddly difficult to work directly with the code. It’s by no means impossible–I can download the source, via Git–but there seems to be little in the way of inviting contributors to, well, contribute.

There are some banners proclaiming it’s openness and nonprofitness and *virtue*, but why not have more direct links to filing bugs? To fixing them? To making extensions?

I’m not really faulting the project. It’s done wonders and is great and the app is superb. Congratulations. But their community outreach, and I mean that community that can produce, as well as consume, seems lacking in important ways. And the evident desire to control the course of development seems, to me, too weighty.

I can see the point of focus and indeed I’d be appalled if there were not the sort of focus that pitilessly ignores all the other really desirable things to do in the act of doing what what is needed. I think the translation platform of Amara is really, in fact, groundbreaking, in that it provides precisely the tool needed to use the vast wealth of informational resources the Web has made available.

But this magnitude of ambition demands an equivalent, if not greater, community play.

(For comparison: look at the way that Kaltura has managed its business. Not quite the same, but an interesting correlate.)