Today, our friends at the Open Video Alliance launched an important advocacy project (see their announcement), called “Let’s Get Video on Wikipedia“. The project aims to motivate more people to take and upload relevant educational video content to Wikimedia’s media repository, Wikimedia Commons.

Video can play an important role in an encyclopedia and in other learning resources. Whether it’s clips of animals, speeches, interviews, excerpts from important films, explanatory animations, footage of historical events, or even collaboratively created documentaries exploring complex topics — video can enrich our learning experience. There are about 4,500 video files in our media repository today, a tiny number. We don’t expect that Wikipedia will turn into “Wikitube” anytime soon, but we do hope that thousands more relevant educational videos will find their way into articles in our projects.

The Wikimedia Foundation also believes that two things need to change for video on the web: it needs to break out of the Flash container used for most video on the web so that developers can build smarter and richer applications, and it needs to be shared in a free format so that anyone can shoot and broadcast video without paying fees. That’s why we use an open video standard for all our videos. The “Let’s get video on Wikipedia how-to” provides simple instructions to convert video into a free and open format and upload it. And, of course, all video content on Wikimedia Commons can be re-used by anyone for any purpose: we’re open all the way.

The campaign is being co-organized by Mozilla Drumbeat, Wikimedia New York City, and the Participatory Culture Foundation, makers of the open source Miro video player and downloader.  It’s also a trial-by-fire for some of the new video technology we’ve been working on in partnership with Kaltura. In short, it’s a demonstration of the power of building alliances. If you’re a video maker or a web developer, we hope that you’ll join us in supporting open standards and free educational video content.

Wikipedia volunteer TheDJ provides some further under-the-hood information in his blog summary.

Erik Moeller
Deputy Director, Wikimedia Foundation