With new HTML5 player, is video finally coming to Wikipedia?

Wikipedia is getting a new HTML5-based video player that will make it easier to add video clips to the millions of articles on the site. Of course, Wikipedia has been working on incorporating video since 2008. So why has it been taking so long?

Has Wikipedia broken faith with users by going dark?

Critics of Wikipedia’s decision to shut the encyclopedia down as a protest against U.S. anti-piracy legislation say the site shouldn’t be taking an advocacy position on such an issue, but if anything, that decision is a great illustration of how Wikipedia functions and why it’s important.

Kaltura Launches HTML5Video.org, Publishes HTML5 Media Library

Open source video platform provider Kaltura launched a new site called HTML5Video.org today that is meant to be an industry resource for HTML5 video-related issues. The site is supported by Mozilla, the Open Video Alliance and the Wikimedia Foundation. The launch coincides with the release of Kaltura’s HTML5 Media Library, which enables web site owners to embed videos in their sites through HTML5 without locking out users of older browsers that don’t support Flash-free web video just yet.

The HTML5 Media Library uses a fallback mechanism to play media through a Java application in browsers that don’t natively support HTML5 video. Kaltura plans to extend the library to also support analytics and monetization — two very important features that have so far prevented many sites from fully adopting HTML5. YouTube (s GOOG), for example, has been toying with HTML5 in recent months, enabling users to watch a subset of the site’s content without Flash after opting into a special TestTube trial. However, videos with ads are always shown in Flash. Sites like YouTube could at least in theory completely ditch Flash if HTML5 video was embraced by advertisers.

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New Site Explains How to Publish Video on Wikipedia

A new website aptly named Videoonwikipedia.org aims to get more users to contribute video clips to Wikipedia by demystifying some of the issues related to the site’s video format. Videoonwikipedia.org was launched today by the Participatory Culture Foundation, which is also known for its Miro video player, in cooperation with the Open Video Alliance, the Mozilla Drumbeat Project and open source video platform provider Kaltura.

The main idea behind the site is obviously to enrich Wikipedia, which currently doesn’t feature many articles with videos, but the Participatory Culture Foundation also sees this as a chance to showcase HTML5 video and the open video codec Ogg Theora. “Wikipedia is the most popular site in the world that posts video exclusively in open formats,” the organization’s co-founder Nicholas Reville wrote in a blog post, adding: “By encouraging more people to post videos in Wikipedia articles, we can bring theora video played in html5 to a very large audience.”

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Wikipedia Is Finally Gearing Up For Video

This week, it almost happened. The servers hosting all of Wikipedia’s media were ready to burst, filled up to the max with almost six million files totaling close to eight terabytes of data. Wikimedia Foundation, the organization behind Wikipedia, was able to install a new server with tons of new space just in time this Tuesday, but Wikimedia’s deputy director Eric Moeller admitted in a blog post: “It’s been a much closer call this time than we would like.”

Part of the reason why Wikimedia has to deal with a huge influx of data is that volunteers are increasingly uploading videos, and content partnerships with museums and archives have brought in hundreds of hours of additional footage. Wikimedia announced two years ago already that it was getting ready to include more of this content into Wikipedia. Little of this has materialized so far, but now it finally seems like video on Wikipedia is actually going to happen soon. So how is the free encyclopedia going to use moving images, and why has this taken so long?
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