Its no secret that I felt that Seth Godin’s 59 Smartest Orgs Online was a little biased and lacked a wide enough perspective. One of the things that I remember mentioning at a morning meeting discussing the list was the almost lack of projects using Google Earth and KML, a really amazing tool to give a global context to phenomena. Since Google Earth launched its Google Earth Outreach Program yesterday, I though I’d present my Top 5 Smartest Orgs on Google Earth. In no particular order.

Appalachian Voices Mountaintop Removal in Google Earth

Declan Butler’s Avian Flu Outbreaks in Google Earth

Earthwatch – Sweetwater’s Rhinos in Google Earth

UNEP – Amazon Deforestation in Google Earth

USHMM Crisis in Darfur in Google Earth

The one thing I would like to see is a way to integrate a donation management system into the Google Earth solution which would allow the user to donate to a project, and maybe even specifically to sponsor a particular rhino, just as an example.

UPDATE: The fact that the users as well as the grant program is heavily biased towards US based orgs is a bit annoying, but is something that we have come to expect from Google.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Forgot to add BrightEarth who are doing some pretty cool things with Google Earth, ESRI ArcGIS Explorer and NASA’s World Wind.



May 20, 2007

We have recently been tasked with the development of a streaming media server to stream videos YouTube style. The concept of a streaming server YouTube style is a bit of a misnomer though. You see, streaming servers are based on streaming server protocols. You can’t “stream” over HTTP protocol, if you’re going to actually stream video you need to stream it over RTMP. There is a small problem with streaming over RTMP, the default port is port 1935. This port is pretty much blocked by all major service providers, which would leave us with either requesting that all users, who wanted to stream video, open that port on their firewall or going the HTTP route.

If you have ever tried to get a network administrator to open a port you would know that it is easier to debug windows. In the wild, our service wouldn’t stand a chance. Even the much touted YouTube does not stream video, it buffers it on the viewers machine and then plays it back.

So we went the HTTP route which left us with another problem. Our users wanted to be able to stream very long documentaries, unlike the YouTube market which rests at around 10 minutes per upload, we were looking at around an hour or so of footage at a time. Not many people would sit for 35 minutes waiting to get 35 minutes into the documentary. They must be able to go back and forth. In a streaming scenario, this isn’t a problem, the server downloads whatever footage is being played back, in our buffering scenario you had to wait until everything before the section you wanted to watch had already been downloaded.

After a bit of searching around and reading many forums, we came to our pseudo streaming solution. Using a Lighty Server optimized for static content and installing a module called ‘mod_flv_streaming’, we were able to create a pseudo streaming solution that allowed users to only download the section that they wanted to watch while at the same time getting the widest possible accessibility by ‘streaming’ the videos over HTTP (port 80). The solution is a bit more optimized than YouTube in terms of efficiency and capability.

UPDATE: I’m going to link to this comparison of ten video sharing services even though he has missed out on a couple of top notch services. Could be time for someone to do another comparison [linkbait alert].


March 29, 2007

DoGooderTV enables nonprofit organizations to present new videos and existing media assets to new audiences. They are currently running a competition for the best Video for Change, votes close April 5th. Have a look.

Some other cool videos

Robert Cray “Twenty” music video
Wage Peace, AFSC
I’m Sorry Darfur
Green Day + NRDC: Be Part of the Solution
AmericaSpeaks: Engaging Citizens in Governance
Breathe In, Breathe Out, Greenpeace
Irene’s Story, Heifer International
One Small Step: Ryan’s Story
Educate Girls, Change Their World, UNICEF
Just Children
i-ACT, Stop Genocide Now
Shining a Light on HIV, STOP AIDS Project
Endangered Sepcies, National Wildlife Federation
Whale Love Wagon Series, Greenpeace Japan