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.

Watch, download or embed the 6-minute video in Theora Ogg on Tinyvid.tv (and let us know if you can’t view it in your browser)

Watch, download or embed the 6-minute video on Vimeo

Watch or embed video on YouTube Continue reading

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

July 17, 2009

How open standards can benefit nonprofit tech

Guest post by Peter Deitz
SocialActions

peterdeitzprofilepicI don’t know about you, but I am a big fan of open standards, particularly when my bladder Direct Messages me with the hashtag #urgent. Open standards (see picture below) guide me to a place where I can @reply in a hurry.

Source: Robotson on Flickr

Source: Robotson on Flickr

In the nonprofit technology community, open standards of a different variety could help us all become more effective at what we urgently need to do: raise money, recruit and coordinate volunteers, promote events, create profiles on social networks, generate reports for grant-makers, and the list goes on.

In June, I hosted a discussion about Collaboration and Competition on Social Edge in which the topic of open standards for the nonprofit sector was raised. In response to a comment from David Wolff, I wrote:

When a sector comes together to create a standard, anything from the diameter of a bottle cap to protocols for mobile devices, businesses and consumers in the sector benefit. Businesses reduce their costs because manufacturers don’t have to build custom factories / product lines each time they sign a contract. Consumers also benefit. Anyone who has fastened a Pepsi cap onto a Coco-Cola bottle and then ridden their bike home knows what I’m talking about … Sometimes collaborating in one area raises the bar of competition in another.

Continue reading