Announcing Mediathread: Composition with Video, Images, and Text

We are very excited to announce the release of our latest iteration on a web-based, multimedia, annotation environment - code named: Mondrian Mediathread ( source code ). Mediathread builds on the strengths and experiences of our long history of annotation projects here at CCNMTL.

Mediathread is a collaborative multimedia analysis environment that supports deep critical exploration of primary multimedia source material, i.e. participatory education, research, democracy, and culture. The Mediathread platform supports a robust access control model with multiple analysis spaces and a variety of workflows (solo projects, collaborative projects, versioning, private projects, public projects, etc). The community portal also organizes streams of activity notifications to help the participants track each other's (net)work.

Participants in the analysis space collect multimedia assets from around the web, clip/annotate these assets, organize their clips, and create a multimedia composition where their clips are directly embedded inline in their analysis/argument. The upcoming release supports video clipping (quicktime, flowplayer, and youtube), and drawing on images (using the fabulous OpenLayers viewer).

Mediathread was designed as a mashup, and the software does not provide asset management services. Instead, Mediathread operates upon assets that remain on their original server media, analogous to the way operates on links. One day we hope to be able to annotate (and analyze) anything at the other end of a URL. The targeted media does not need to "know" about Mediathread - assets can be brought into Mediathread manually, or with a convenient bookmarklet. Of course, if you are are in control of the source archive, it is simple to add an "Analyze This" button directly to the archive for convenience.

Mediathread is built on Django + the SherdJS javascript framework - also developed here at CCNMTL for Mediathread, but decoupled with the intention of using against alternate backends.

This semester our Mediathread platform will be supporting the Vietnam Digital Library courses as well as this year's Digital Tibet course (for a glimpse at these gorgeous images, see

Publishing this application has really motivated us to clean up the messy corners of the codebase, in ways that this post on Why Do We Write? articulates nicely. We have also finally straightened out our stories around distributed version control (git submodules vs. subversion externals will be the the subject of a future post). There is still plenty of work ahead of us, and a challenging roadmap towards purposeful, scalable, self-service, collaborative multimedia analysis. Special thanks to everyone involved in supporting these ongoing efforts, including all of our staff, WGBH, and IMLS.