Boston, United States
Fellow Since 2009
Participatory Culture Foundation
Check out this video of Nicholas's work:
This profile was prepared when Nicholas Reville was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2009.
The New Idea
Nicholas sees that the maturing culture of the Internet is radically changing the role of citizens as users, creators, and participants in media, culture, markets, and politics. His Participatory Culture Foundation aims to anchor and guide this shift, particularly as it pertains to one media stream: online video. Rather than simply advocating for a more democratic television system, Nicholas Reville has actually built a better video distribution system and provided it, for free, to millions of people around the world. His Participatory Culture Foundation aims for nothing less than to radically democratize video viewing via a decentralized, open-source media environment. Through the creation of this new media environment, organizations that traditionally had limited audiences can now reach a large global audience.Through PCF, Nicholas is cultivating a community of hundreds of volunteer coders, testers, supporters, and translators to build this open-source platform – and further, to promote the adoption of open video by content creators, viewers, and technology suppliers. PCF attempts to achieve this goal at multiple levels. His flagship product, Miro is an open video distribution and viewing platform currently being used by millions of people and thousands of organizations around the world. For the first time in history, the PCF has built an open media environment, without censorship, without gatekeepers, and without advantage for the wealthiest media corporations. Miro is activism in the form of software; by creating world-class software that attracts a large global user base, the PCF introduces millions to an open approach of online video, reshaping the market in a positive direction. His technology redefines the publisher and user experience by separating video hosting from viewing. A video creator maintains presentation and cost flexibility to choose any video hosting service while still reaching a significantly large viewing audience. Miro users have the freedom to create “channels” of online media content from any video creator or video hosting service in the world. The PCF is leading the collaborative open video movement by involving as many participants as possible. Through the creation of the Open Video Alliance, the PCF is building a powerful coalition of organizations, individuals, and companies to push open standards at every level—from the most technical internals of video codecs to editing, publishing, and distribution systems to outreach and awareness. Nicholas realizes the necessity of bringing people together, in any field, in an effort to push the field forward. The Participatory Culture Foundation recently created a website with Mozilla and Lawrence Lessig’s Change Congress organization urging the Obama transition team to embrace open use of video. This summer, a new open-source video publishing service by the PCF called Miro Community will give community access and public television stations a way to build low-cost, local video websites. Using this technology, Nicholas is leading a video revolution in which a video succeeds or fails based on its quality, merit, and relevance to various communities and constituencies. Video creation and viewership will feel fluid, open, and effortless—unconstrained by commercial incumbents.