The Platform

The CoDECK is a platform for sharing and discussing video-based content. Using it, people can upload, view, and discuss video anonymously.

CoDECK takes its physical form as a circa-1979 Sears Betavision videocassette recorder. The Betavision deck – which used to play tapes recorded using the Betamax format – has been retrofitted to run Linux and functions as the heart of the CoDECK platform; it runs the web server, the video playback system, and the video capture system. It usually resides in the lounge of the Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP) at New York University (NYU) but was built to be semi-portable.

When you are near the CoDECK, you can view and browse content already on the deck on the attached television monitor or create your own simple piece using the integrated camera. From anywhere you have access to a web browser, you can upload and download video and view the discussions.


We didn’t think there were any existing forums that allowed a community to share and discuss video-based content in a simple, community-centric way. Sure, there are tons of web sites where you can download and comment upon video, but where can you sit on a couch with friends and colleagues and watch an always-on virtual television channel that displays content created by, and discussions among, the community itself?

We hope that the availability of the CoDECK platform will help to foster community cohesiveness and understanding and will better enable communities to share information. At ITP specifically, where it was created, we hope that the CoDECK helps the artists/students in the program to:

share and discuss creative pieces and ideas with others, (and)
share information about upcoming events and items of interest.
As to why we chose to put the hardware into the shell of a tape player for a failed video format, well, we found Betamax interesting for a few reasons:

Betamax is a format considered by many to be technically superior to VHS, but failed mostly because of some marketing mistakes by Sony.
There’s still a cult-like grassroots following of Beta that echoes the grassroots nature of the CoDECK platform.
The old box just looks cool in a retro-chic sort of way and we won it with a pretty low bid on ebay…
We consider the CoDECK platform to be an example of social software. For thoughts on social software, check out the Many 2 Many group weblog.


Mark Argo
Dan Melinger
Shawn Van Every
Ahmi Wolf

Interactive Telecommunications Program, New York University


Filed under: hack, locative, mobility, new media, physical computing, research, social, space/place, technology, thesis

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