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Magnify: another approach to online video guides

Magnify_publisher_logoI wrote a post last month about the dearth of truly useful guides to the growing mass of video available online. Magnify.net is one of the companies responsible for creating that mass; its platform is home to 37,000 channels of niche online programming, including the Flavor Flav Video Network ("Return of the Romantical") and the Dermatology channel. "Lots of them don't get looked at," co-founder and CEO Steve Rosenbaum said in a recent interview. "Lots of them really do. The one thing I've been struggling with for the last six months, as more and more stuff pours onto the Web, who's going to sort it?"

The answer, Rosenbaum believes, is bloggers. "They help you organize the things you're going to see," he said, adding that if one blogger's recommendations don't pan out, you try another. "They become the micro road map around video content." With that in mind, Magnify decided to create tools to help bloggers find videos online and build posts around them.

Magnify_publisher_screengrab2Magnify Publisher, which rolls out today with support for WordPress and Movable Type blogs, enables users to do keyword searches through the video libraries at about a dozen sites, including YouTube, Metacafe and DailyMotion. One of the more interesting sources is RedLasso, a site that enables people to create clips from recent radio and TV broadcasts -- a gold mine for political and entertainment bloggers. The screen shot to the left shows an example of Magnify Publisher being used to search through YouTube for clips with "beet tv" in the metadata. The application can also search through pictures stored at Flickr and Google Images.

The point, Rosenbaum said, is to make it simple for bloggers to add video to their posts. In so doing, they'll help identify the clips worth watching. "If you're a blog that features `The Office' and `The Daily Show' ... and you say, `Here's a new one you should check out,' am I more likely to trust you than I am a promotional campaign from NBC beating me over the head, saying, `This is the funniest show ever'?"

Magnify_publisher_screengrab

Once you've picked the clip you want to use, the application embeds it into your blog. The example at the left  shows a RedLasso clip poised for posting to Woof TV, a Magnify.net channel. The video is still hosted at the original source, Rosenbaum said. "All we're providing is a thumbnail and an embedded player link." Alternatively, the application could be used to record and post webcam videos -- you know, Andy Milonakis' stock in trade, and the format of choice for YouTube responses.

In effect, the application enables any WordPress or Movable Type blog to become what most Magnify.net channels are: collections of clips drawn from sites around the Web. Consider them annotated video playlists, or prime-time lineups for the unlimited channel universe. "The idea that bloggers are essentially going to become what network TV programmers were 15 years ago, I think hasn't occurred to anybody," Rosenbaum said. Until it occurred to him, that is.

I can't end this post without embedding some video. So here it is, courtesy of YouTube:

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Times editorial writer Jon Healey pens opinion pieces about a variety of business issues, and blogs about technologies that are changing the entertainment industry's business model.

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