Open Video Alliance is launching a campaign to bring video to Wikipedia. The project encourages Wikipedia users to add videos using the "100% free and open source video stack powered by HTML5 and Theora" that is the standard for the site.This morning, the
Our contention, however, is that while technical issues in adding media have certainly had a limiting role, is this all that has kept multimedia from dotting the pages of our favorite collaborative encyclopedia? Can video be collaborative?
While we wonder about the collaborative nature of the site versus the more fixed nature of video, others have already been hard at work making collaborative video a (potential) reality.
We spoke today with Michael Dale, the "open-video evangelist" for Kaltura, who said that "we haven't really seen yet the collaborative sequencing aspects of the software," but that these tools are currently in development. Kaltura is the online video editing company that is working with Wikimedia to enable video on Wikipedia. Through meta data and other tools, the company is trying to make video a more collaborative media.
The "Let's Get Video on Wikipedia" page offers a simple five-step how-to on how to add video to the site, but the only thing we're thinking it's missing is the "wash, rinse, repeat" aspect of adding any content to Wikipedia. While it is rather simple to go in and edit a sentence here and a paragraph there in a text format, editing a video is not nearly as simple. There are currently around 4,500 videos on Wikimedia Commons out of about 6,300,000 images and digital assets, total.
Now videos can be easily uploaded, how will Wikipedia's users contend with the medium? If a three-minute long video is added to an article, but 30 seconds of it contain somewhat disputed ideas, interspersed through out, will these parts simply be cut? Will the whole video be scrapped or will another user take the video, slice those parts out and insert their own? And in the end, if this is the case, what sort of mish-mash multimedia will we end up with in the end? This is the next step, it would seem.
"Once there are more tools available," said Dale, "I think we'll see more experimentation."
It's not as if these questions are new to the Wikipedia community, as you can read in its proposed guidelines, which suggest that videos will should likely be limited to "snapshot-type", "performance-type" and "tour-type" videos. Even with these limitations, if you've ever looked through the history of changes on Wikipedia articles, then you know how even the finest points of an idea can be discussed and dissected.
According to a video interview with Kaltura co-founder Michal Tsur on Beet.TV, "users should be able to use video just the same way they're using text", but a word is a word is a word. A video, even a tiny bit of video, can differ in lighting, sound, angle and any number of other variables.
"The actual fact is that we're just getting started," Dale pointed out. "There's not a clear idea of how video will work and be used."
In the end, we think video sounds like a great idea, but wonder how widespread it can really become on a platform that holds collaboration in such high esteem. Whether or not video collaboration takes off on Wikipedia, we would love to see what could be created within other contexts (i.e. not encyclopedic) with the collaborative video tools that Dale says are currently in development.