As Wikimedia and the community embark on campaigns and programs to increase video contribution and usage on the site, we are starting to see video usage on Wikimedia sites grow and we hope for it to grow a great deal more. One potential problem with increased video usage on the Wikimedia sites is that video is many times more costly to distribute than text and images that make up Wikipedia articles today. Eventually bandwidth costs could saturate the foundation budget or leave less resources for other projects and programs. For this reason it is important to start exploring and experimenting with future content distribution platforms and partnerships.
The P2P-Next consortium is an EU-funded project exploring the future of Internet video distribution. Their aims are to dramatically reduce the costs of video distribution through community CDNs and P2P technology. They recently presented at Gdansk Wikimania 2010, and today I am happy to invite the Wikimedia community to try out their latest experimental efforts to greatly reduce video distribution costs. Swarmplayer V2.0 is being released today for Firefox (an Internet Explorer plugin is in testing). The Swamplayer enables visitors to easily share their upload bandwidth to help distribute video. The add-on works with the Kaltura HTML5 library ( aka mwEmbed ) and url2torrent.net, to enable visitors to help offset distribute costs of any Ogg Theora video embed in any web page.
We have enabled this for Wikimedia video via the multimedia beta. Once you installed the add-on any video you view on Wikimedia sites with the multimedia beta enabled will be transparently streamed via bittorrent. The add-on includes simple tools to configure how much bandwidth you use to upload. Even if you upload nothing, using the add-on helps distribute load by playing the video from the P2P network and the local cache on subsequent views. The Swarmplayer has clever performance tuning which downloads high priority pieces over http while getting low priority bits of the video from the bittorrent swarm. This ensures a smooth playback experience while maximizing use of the P2P network. You can learn more about the technology on the Swam player add-on site
The P2P Next Team from Delft University of Technology will be presenting the P2P-Next project at the Open Video Conference on October 2nd.
Michael Dale, Open Source Video Collaboration Technology