HTML5 Video Comes To Wikipedia After 4 Years Of Experiments

By Megan O'Neill 

Get ready for a whole new experience on Wikipedia.  This morning the Wikimedia Foundation announced that it is launching a much-anticipated video project, rolling out a new HTML5 video player that will make it easier for users to add videos to Wikipedia articles.

The video project, a collaboration with video platform provider Kaltura, has been in the works for some time.  Back in 2008, the site began an open, collaborative video experiment, but it took time to perfect the system.  Four years later, the project has finally gone live.

GigaOM’s Janko Roettgers published the following statement from the Wikimedia Foundation’s announcement about the new video player:

“On the internet, video is a static medium: it rarely changes once uploaded.  In contrast, the success of Wikipedia relies on numerous volunteers constantly editing and improving each other’s contributions.  Appropriate tools will hopefully reduce this dissonance, like Kaltura’s sequencer, which empowers users to remix videos directly online.  Successfully translating its radically collaborative nature to multimedia content will be critical to Wikipedia’s transition into the age of video.”

The Kaltura platform will enable Wikipedia users to add captions, translations and more once videos have been uploaded to Wikimedia Commons.

As content will have to be uploaded directly to Wikimedia Commons by users, rather than giving users the option of embedding from third party sites like YouTube, it will probably take time for the site’s collection of videos to grow.  Since the initial experiment launched back in 2008, only about 6,000 videos have been uploaded to the site.  You can check out one of these videos on the Wikipedia article about the polar bear (scroll down to the section on population and distribution).

It will be interesting to see how Wikipedia users will use video to supplement information on the site.  What do you think about this news?  We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

Megan O’Neill is the resident web video expert here at Social Times.  Megan covers everything from the latest viral videos to online video news and tips, and has a passion for bizarre, original and revolutionary content and ideas.