September 15, 2009

Toward a Web of open video

Toward open video on the Web from JD Lasica on Vimeo.

JD LasicaA few weeks ago, before and after the Open Video conference at NYU, I sketched out the proposition that open video is a requirement for an open Web in two posts: The promise of open source video and Boxee and the promise of open media.

By some estimates, 90 percent of the traffic on the Internet will be video by 2013, so this affects free and open discourse online. Above is a 7-minute interview I conducted with Mark Surman, executive director of the Mozilla Foundation, who talks about how video is really separate from the rest of the Web in that it’s a much more closed system. “We need to look at how to make video a first-class citizen on the Web,” he said.

Surman said he hopes a concerted push toward open standards will “shift the market away from a black box video plug-in, where the video is separate from the rest of the page, to something where video can interact with Javascript” or other elements on a Web page.

Video today is locked up (technologically) and locked down (legally). In order for video to become part of the Web’s innovation ecosystem, Surman said, we need to be able to play, manipulate, transform and remix video in the same way we can with photos and data.

In the past two years, the vast majority of video hosting sites have settled on Adobe’s Flash as the format of choice because more than 95 percent of desktop computers and laptops can play them. But Flash isn’t an open source system, and video producers have been limited in how they can make video interact with other Web page elements.

“That may not sounds interesting to those who just watch videos, but it’ll be interesting first to video producers who can do all kinds of innovative things that we can’t even imagine now,” he said. Continue reading

September 14, 2009

Use the Web to improve your community

Mozilla Service Week offers ideas to help you put technology to good use

mozillaJD LasicaSocialbrite is a partner in Mozilla Service Week, which runs today through next Monday. The initiative inspires tech companies across the globe to offer their talent and expertise to local organizations that need their assistance.

Here’s a quick overview from our friends at Mozilla:

“During the week of September 14-21, 2009, we’re asking individuals to step up and make a difference by using the Web to better their community. We’re looking for people who want to share, give, engage, create, and collaborate by offering their time and talent to local organizations and people who need their help. … By utilizing our community’s talents for writing, designing, programming, developing, and all-around technical know-how, we believe we can make the Web a better place for everyone.”

Some specific ideas that Mozilla offered:

  • Teach senior citizens how to use the Web.
  • Show a non-profit how to use social networking to grow its base of supporters.
  • Help install a wireless network at a school.
  • Create Web how-to materials for a library’s computer cluster.
  • Refurbish hardware for a local computer center.
  • Update a non-profit organization’s website.
  • Teach the values of the open Web to other public benefit organizations.

Today the Mozilla blog gave an update, saying: “we’re close to 10,000 volunteer hours and over 3,500 volunteer opportunities.”

Choose from a list of over 3,500 service opportunities on our partner sites (Idealist & betterplace.org). There is a plethora of opportunities, including helping The Nature Conservancy of Chicago, IL with its photo archive, developing a LinkedIn group for Wardrobe for Opportunity in Oakland, CA, helping CARE, Germany’s largest NPO, and keeping Mexico’s Puente a la Salud Comunitaria’s website up-to-date.  Our partner OneWebDay also has a variety of service events taking place on and around Sept. 22nd, including a number of events in San Francisco.

You’ll also want to learn how you can take part in OneWebDay on Sept. 22 to make the Web better. Begin by following @owd on Twitter and donating your Facebook status on Sept. 22.