July 7, 2010

Why Wikipedia insists on open video

Why Wikipedia supports open video from JD Lasica on Vimeo.

JD LasicaFrom time to time, Socialbrite explores the use of open source tools by change-makers and social benefit organizations — see below for our past coverage of open video and how open standards can benefit nonprofit tech.

The second annual Open Video conference returns to New York University on Oct. 1-2. If you can make it, it’s a must event for evangelists of open content. At last year’s event, I got to meet Erik Möller, deputy director of the Wikimedia Foundation and an early advisor to Ourmedia.org, who helped (via email from Berlin) steer us toward the right set of Creative Commons licenses.

In this video interview, Möller tells me why Wikipedia decided early on to support open standards for all video used on the online encyclopedia. “We’ve always had a commitment to open standards,” he said. The Wikimedia brain trust made a decision early on not to support Flash, MPEG-4 or any other proprietary format on Wikipedia when the formats are controlled by a single vendor or handful of vendors. “If [users] all have to get permission from one entity, we would never accept that kind of market power” in other mediums, like TV or radio.

Without question, it was the correct decision — and a vastly important one.

As a result, today Wikipedia has more than 30 million text articles — all available under a Creative Commons ShareAlike license — but only 3,000 videos. Erik hopes that changes. He encourages contributors to collaborate and publish “rich educational materials” through video, photo slide shows, animation and rich media on subjects like genetics or natural selection. “The potential is enormous,” he said.

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June 3, 2009

The promise of open source video

JD LasicaOn June 19-20, 2009, I’ll be at New York University’s School of Law attending the Open Video Conference. To my surprise and delight, this is turning out to be quite a big event.

Socialbrite readers get 15 percent the registration fee (regularly $75 for individuals and nonprofits and $200 for companies). The event will be held June 19-20 at NYU.

Shay David of Kaltura

Shay David of Kaltura

The open source landscape has come quite a long way in the past few years, and its importance to the media landscape can hardly be overestimated, said Shay David — co-founder and CTO of Kaltura and a fellow at Yale Law School’s Information Society Project — by phone as he sped to the airport for yet another trip abroad.

“If you want an open structure of media to guarantee that the future of media is not proprietary and locked down, then open is the only way to go,” he said. “If we care about democratized media, where citizens in their living rooms can access programming from more than just three or four media conglomerates, then we should care about open video.”

But David’s warning is not a call to arms against entrenched corporate interests. “Millions of lines of code have been written in the open video world without a lot of success,” he acknowledged.

Rather, it’s a call for reasoned partnerships: public and private, new and old, for-profit and nonprofit. We need to think beyond licenses and consider how to build real businesses that are built on open and democratic principles — and translate that into real economic value. In short, he argues that open video is not just about serving the interests of users. Open video is good for business, too.

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