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started, people said it wouldn't work, but it worked," says Kaltura
cofounder Ron Yekutiel. "The next question is: Why should it
stop at simple media?"
The results should start to become visible this fall. If you are
editing a Wikipedia entry, you will find an "Add media" button.
Clicking it will bring up an interface that will, initially, allow you
to search through three repositories of free licensed multimedia
files. One is Metavid, the congressional archive started by Dale
and Stern. Another is the Internet Archive, the San Francisco--
based digital library most famous for archiving old Web pages;
it also holds hundreds of thousands of old interviews, documen-
taries, and films contributed from various sources. The third is
Wikimedia Commons, a multimedia repository operated by the
Wikimedia Foundation itself.
Some observers think Wikipedia's foray into multimedia will
help move the entire Web toward open video standards. "To make
video part of the fabric of Wikipedia will provide incentives to
[video] producers to get their stu out there and indexed," says
Jonathan Zittrain, a Harvard Law School professor and cofounder
of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Uni-
versity. Producers who want their videos excerpted and linked on a
Wikipedia page---drawing more tra c to their own websites---will
not just have to put much less restrictive licenses on the material;
they'll also have to accept open standards rather than proprietary
ones. "With no business model yet gelled, this is just the right time
for Wikipedia to be experimenting, and possibly leading, the devel-
opment of open tools and content for video," Zittrain says.
Jimmy Wales, Wikipedia's founder, sees the e ort as the next
logical advance in Web technology. "Today any computer program-
mer in the world can launch a website and have full-strength tools
for creating new things," he says. But he points out that this is not
yet true for video. No collaborative video editing process is avail-
able to all Web users. "It's a process that's a lot harder to do if all I
can do is download a 60-minute video to my computer, open up
some [proprietary] software to edit the video, then upload it," Wales
says. "There's no easy way for other people to give direct feedback.
The record of the edits isn't there. And if someone else wants to
change it, they have to redo all the work on their computer."
Wikipedia's e ort to promote open video standards isn't the only
one; the YouTube competitor Dailymotion, for example, is making
300,000 videos available in the Theora format. But whatever the
catalyst, wide acceptance of such standards could have important
implications even for people who don't want to make their own video
remixes. In particular, it could drive broader and faster advances in
video search. Consider Blinkx, which has indexed 35 million hours'
worth of videos and devised a variety of ways to search them, from
simple means---metadata, or computer-readable tags that literally
describe what's in a video---to advanced techniques involving speech
analysis and facial recognition. One method devised by Blinkx allows
searchers to draw a box around a face in a video, click it, and then
search the Web for other videos containing that face. But for that
trick to work with all Web videos, Blinkx must rebuild the interface
code to accommodate each of a handful of dominant video formats
and 80 lesser-used ones. "If open video works, then all the people
doing these kinds of innovations within individual video formats---
they can all talk to each other," says Suranga Chandratillake, the
company's founder and CEO. "It means innovation isn't split into
separate groups in separate formats. Today the video Web is written
in tens of languages, causing all the usual barriers when you want to
switch from one to the next. With a dominant open format, every-
thing will link to everything else; viewers will be able to freely watch
content and jump between relevant clips."
And on the copyright front, Creative Commons, the nonprofit
organization that has provided usage licenses for 250 million copy-
righted works, is helping to clarify what existing video works can
and can't be used. "Open licensing is a crucial part of this fairly
multilayered ecosystem that will make open video take o ," says
Mike Linksvayer, Creative Commons' vice president. "If the video
itself, and the components of the video, like music, aren't actually
openly licensed, then each of the other layers is hindered."
Lately, Mozilla's Blizzard and Surman have been showing o
something a Mozilla developer cooked up with open-source video
tools. In their video, the two men walk in and out of the camera's
field of view. A thought bubble dances over each head (tracking
their movements thanks to face recognition software); inside each
bubble, their real-time Twitter feeds are displayed. This was all
done with Theora, HTML 5, and other new standards, Blizzard
says. While such a stunt could be performed with proprietary soft-
ware, it wouldn't be so easy---or so easily shared. "This is what we
mean when we talk about taking video out of the plug-in prison
and allowing people to create things," he says. The goal isn't to
make any one application possible but to bring about the next
Internet revolution---one whose specific form is hard to foresee,
except that it's likely to be televised.
DAVID TALBOT IS TECHNOLOGY REVIEW'S CHIEF CORRESPONDENT.
"Today the video Web is
written in tens of languages,
causing all the usual
barriers," says Suranga
Chandratillake, CEO of
Blinkx. "With a dominant
open format, everything
will link to everything else."
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