Video Bomb, a product of the Participatory Culture Foundation, is the latest in a series of components that allow us to build a distributed video infrastructure. Video Bomb works by taking submissions of links to online videos (they strongly recommend that you link your own material, but they're happy to link to the myriad "viral" videos floating around on the web), then allowing people to both tag the submission with keywords and "bomb" it -- that is, recommend it to other users -- so that the highest-rated items float to the front page. This sort of collaborative filtering is fairly commonplace, but it's a reasonably good way to bring interesting items to broader attention.
If Video Bomb just provided a collaborative linking & filtering tool, it would be interesting but not particularly worldchanging. It goes further, though, by making RSS feeds for the videos. Each tag has its own feed, and any video a user "bombs" goes into the RSS feed for that user. They describe the concept as being akin to making your own Internet-based television station, and that's not far off. In a matter of minutes, one can set up a "channel" (an RSS link) that shows items selected by a particular person or using a particular tag.
So how about a "WorldChanging" channel?
As an experiment, I've gone ahead and submitted as links a few of the videos we've pointed to the in the past, and tagged them all with "worldchanging." Now, anyone who tags a submitted video with "worldchanging" will see it show up on the tag's feed. (At the time of posting, the RSS feed for the worldchanging tag had not yet been activated; I'll change this message and add a link when the feed functions.) I don't know if this will be useful or not, but it seems worth trying.
The combination of RSS and user-submitted video has some serious implications. This tool could be used to make a rudimentary version of the "Earth Witness" project, or become a home-grown participatory panopticon site.
What Video Bomb doesn't do is host the videos for you. Submissions have to point to a file on a server somewhere else. That's not a big problem for stuff like the videos I just added (from NASA and elsewhere), but may be a bit tricky for people's own video projects. A small video and a few visitors? Not a problem. A big video that gets popular? Suddenly you're looking at big bandwidth overage charges. Fortunately, we've pointed in the past to projects like Ourmedia and Google Video, which allow users to put their videos online for free, on servers with more bandwidth than they know what to do with.
So here's how it all works together:
If you decide to give Video Bomb a shot, tell us the URL for your account RSS in the comments.