Harnessing the power of storytelling to change the world™

Open Source Release

Posted on May 31st, 2011 by Rob DiCiuccio

Today, the team is excited to announce the release of Link TV Platform, the open source project that powers A semantic video platform, the project combines the rich media experience of video with the data-centric concepts of the Semantic Web.

Link TV Platform is being released as a Rails Engine for the popular Ruby on Rails web application framework. Essentially an application within an application, this modular approach provides a robust foundation, while allowing for your own customizations and enhancements.

We are also releasing Link TV Player, a Flash video player, as a separate open source project. The player supports both streaming (RTMP) and progressive download (HTTP) video sources, as well as YouTube content, and can be used in conjunction with Link TV Platform, or as a standalone player.

Both of these projects are in use on, as well as the recently launched Link TV News site. However, we recognize that they are neither complete nor perfect. We are actively working on improvements, optimizations, tests and documentation. In releasing these projects as open source software, our hope is to foster collaboration and encourage community involvement in improving the projects. We look forward to your feedback, and are excited to see how these projects grow and evolve.
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Social Actions API Enhancements

Posted on January 21st, 2011 by Rob DiCiuccio

We’re happy to announce that is among the first to utilize the latest version of the Social Actions API. The updated API includes several enhancements, such as semantic content analysis, term boosting, and the ability to query by and return Linked Data entities.

From yesterday’s announcement:

The updates introduce Semantic Analysis and Natural Language Processing (NLP) capabilities to the Social Actions API and begin to connect Social Actions to the wider Linked Open Data community.
Link TV, in prototyping their ViewChange platform, noticed that the Social Actions API wasn’t producing the best possible results. They invited us to explore with them what would be involved in updating our platform so that ViewChange could feature more relevant results.
Link TV, along with Doug Puchalski and Rob DiCiuccio of Definition, helped us articulate the changes that would need to occur and then connected us with a funder who could underwrite what amounted to a very significant enhancement to our code base. In one month, we had approximately as large an investment in the technology as we’d had in total up until that point.
The Social Actions API now cross-references issues and locations with universal identifiers that have been assigned to them. Just like you might cross-reference the subject of a book with a Dewey Decimal number, we are now cross-referencing each action with a universal identifier that helps to link it to related data. Using Zemanta, we are able to provide URIs (Uniform Resource Identifier) from Freebase and DBPedia that make the connection between actions in our system and other material on the web that relates to the same topic.

The ability to query using Linked Data URIs (e.g. removes the ambiguity inherent with a traditional keyword query (“John Adams”), which could be interpreted as any number of persons, such as the former U.S. President or the composer.

We hope that, through this enhanced integration between Social Actions and, we are able to help you get involved by bringing you relevant, timely actions, so you can make a difference.

Read the entire interview with Peter Dietz from Social Actions. Launches!

Posted on November 18th, 2010 by Hannah Eaves

It’s official, after almost a year of hard work – our semantically driven video site highlighting stories of change in the developing world – has launched! A flurry of new features have rolled out over the last couple of weeks, including profiles, “playlists” (here’s mine on malaria), and an advanced embeddable player. Not to mention a content API.

On the technology side, uses the semantic blogging API Zemanta to analyze time-based video transcripts and create smart topics (semantic entities) to categorize the videos. These topics are then connected with matching Freebase and DBpedia entities, and are used to make finding videos on the site easier. They’re also employed in a live search using the Daylife, Truveo and SocialActions APIs to find related videos, articles, and ways to take action from around the Web. This related content appears alongside the chapter of the video it’s most relevant to. For a nice practical look at how this works, here’s a great blog post by a health professional. For a more in-depth look at the technology, read On Linked Data and, posted by ViewChange technical lead, Rob DiCiuccio of Definition. You can also check out our technology press release, which provides a great look at the tools we’ve created.
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ViewChange Online Film Contest Voting

Posted on September 15th, 2010 by Hannah Eaves

Today is the last day to vote for your favorites for the ViewChange Online Film Contest. Finalists will be announced this coming Monday.

Monday itself is going to be a packed day for us! We’re going to start in the morning with a live stream of TEDxChange: The Future We Make, a “chance to reflect on the Millennium Development Goals ten years in, and to look forward to where we’ll be.” Speakers include Melinda French Gates, Graça Machel, Hans Rosling, Mechai Viravaidya, and Bajah + The Dry Eye Crew.

This will be followed by a TEDxLondon event featuring a lineup of speakers that includes film contest judge and novelist Chimamanda Adichie announcing the contest finalists.

The day of live streaming will start at 8am PDT. More details and a link coming shortly.

In other news, I was recently asked to reflect on our experiences with online film contests for website This article looks at contests from the filmmaker perspective: Online Film Contests: Friend or Foe? Beta Launches

Posted on July 7th, 2010 by Keith Laidlaw

We are very pleased to announce that the beta version of Link TV’s is officially live. Right now we’re sending out invitation codes to everybody who has asked for one. If you haven’t received yours yet, don’t worry—it should be arriving via email soon. You can also still sign up to request access here. won’t be publicly available until the fall, but the beta version of our next-generation multimedia website is already fully functional. The very best global development video content is presented alongside relevant news links and ways to take action, thanks to cutting-edge search tools that scour the web for the most up-to-date material. Many more films will be added to the site in the days and weeks ahead.

As you explore, please remember that this service is still in beta, so you may come across the occasional bug or glitch. If you do, or if you have any comments, drop us a line using the “Feedback” tab located on the edge of every page on the site. We look forward to hearing your thoughts on our new video platform. at the 2010 Global Philanthropy Forum

Posted on May 11th, 2010 by Keith Laidlaw

Rahim Kanani has written an informative roundup of the 2010 Global Philanthropy Forum for the Huffington Post. He says that one of the most important themes to emerge at the conference was “harnessing mobile and internet technology for change, social impact, and accountability,” and talks about

“Start-ups focusing on mobile technology are not the only new kids on the block redefining the industry of social change and social impact, for heavy-hitting philanthropic organizations are also investing in the power of technology to amplify voices in the field, hoping to shift long-standing perceptions on critical issues of our time such as public opinion on U.S. foreign aid and global development. Funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Link TV recently launched — a digital media hub that highlights progress in reducing hunger, poverty, and disease in developing nations. It combines powerful video stories with the latest Web technology to make videos, articles, blogs, and actions readily available to key audiences working in global development.”

The full text is available here.


Posted on April 30th, 2010 by Keith Laidlaw

This week has been a busy one here at headquarters.

First, as you may have noticed, we’ve started a blog. This will be the place to hear all our news as we prepare to launch our beta site in June and the full site in November. Check back here for updates on the progress of the project, technology work we’re doing behind the scenes, info on our top partners, and reports from our diligent group of screeners, who are looking for the best content on global development from around the world.

Second, our awesome ViewChange Online Film Contest is now open for entries. We’re looking for powerful new stories about the progress being made in achieving the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), told in short videos of five minutes or less. Your film can be any genre, from documentary to drama, and you have until August 31 to enter.

Online voters will help determine the finalists, while the winners will be selected by a distinguished panel of judges including Danny Glover, Senator Daniel K. Inouye, Wim Wenders, Angélique Kidjo, and Gael García Bernal. We’re offering prizes totaling $50,000, including up to $25,000 for the Grand Prize winner. Best of all, the videos of winners and finalists will be broadcast on Link TV and other television channels worldwide, and be available for high-quality streaming right here at

We know that stories are powerful. They can change how we think and how we act. That’s why we’re launching this site. But now we’re calling on storytellers and filmmakers: Tell your story. Change the world.