LinkTV Building a YouTube for Social Change

LinkTV, a non-profit satellite TV channel that specializes in news and documentaries about global change and the developing world, is launching a site called, which it says will be a one-stop portal “to help raise awareness of global development issues.” The project, which is being funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, was previewed on Wednesday with a video address from actor and UN ambassador Danny Glover (a LinkTV board member), which is embedded below. LinkTV, which was founded in 1999 by TV veteran and documentary producer Kim Spencer, says it will be using “the latest semantic tools” to create a digital media hub with videos, news articles, opinion and commentary, along with links that will allow readers and viewers to get involved in global development.
ViewChange, which LinkTV said will launch this summer, is being designed by Method, the firm behind sites such as Fancast and TED. And it will use a couple of interesting open-source information tools to pull together content, including Freebase — a structured data platform from Metaweb Technologies — and OpenCalais, a semantic engine developed by Thomson Reuters (s tri) that extracts keywords and other data from text. LinkTV, which claims to be the largest independent TV broadcaster in the U.S. with a reach of 47 million homes through the DirectTV (s dtv) and DISH (s dish) networks, in outlining its mission in a statement, said:

With access to a rapidly evolving database of structured content, visitors will be able to more effectively engage with policymakers to encourage support for development efforts.

The site’s “semantic video player,” which will include related content and links, will be shared with other sites (LinkTV also has a YouTube channel as well as a Vimeo channel), and will have an open application programming interface (API) that will allow other sites to create applications and pages that include content. The site’s press release quotes Internet Archive founder Brewster Kahle saying “It’s great to see a not-for-profit initiative leading the charge on next-generation Web technology.”
Mark Suzman, director of Global Development Policy and Advocacy at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, said that “innovative investments in international development are helping people in the developing world lift themselves out of hunger and poverty, and lead healthy, productive lives,” and that ViewChange would help to “showcase inspirational stories of people who have benefited from these investments, showing that these programs are delivering real results by giving them the tools to change their lives for the better, and that progress is possible on a large
Related content from GigaOm Pro (sub req’d):
NewNet Winners and Losers of 2009
Post and thumbnail photos courtesy of Flickr user azrainman