Video On Wikipedia: A How-To Guide


The Open Video Alliance has published a white paper about video on Wikipedia that is part how-to guide, part call to arms to get cultural and educational institutions involved in contributing video to the open encyclopedia. The paper was written by Peter B. Kaufman of Intelligent Television, and Kaufman told me today that Wikipedia’s reliance on open source video formats has in the past been an obstacle that limited participation from educators an others.

However, he thinks the problem is now solved. “These (formats) haven’t been that prevalent yet, but they are now,” he wrote me in an email, adding: “There are automated converters being developed by the Participatory Culture Foundation and others that will enable uploading of video files easily, at the push of a button.”

The white paper describes in detail how to convert your videos to Ogg Theora, Wikipedia’s video format of choice, and then enable uploading of video content within a user profile. It also addresses issues related to the unique challenges that video makers might face when they try to meet Wikipedia’s requirement of a neutral point of view. From the paper:

“(O)nce a clip has a voiceover, even the narrator’s inflection may need to be scrutinized. Camera angles, lighting, and music, among other intentional production factors, all contribute to the tone and shape the the editorial content of the video.”

Kaufman thinks contributing video to Wikipedia is nonetheless worth the extra effort, because doing so can offer educators and others access to and engagement with a huge audience without large investments of their own. “As Wikipedia develops sophisticated methods of attribution, video and other media will be able to lead readers and viewers back to trusted and established sources of information,” Kaufman said, adding: “Soon there will be newer and grander conversations about knowledge – conversations held in video and not just the written word.”

The Wikimedia foundation, the organization behind Wikipedia, has been working on adding more video to the encyclopedia since early 2008. Some of these efforts include a collaborative video editor and P2P technology that aims to take some of the load off Wikipedia’s servers.

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