It’s been in the works for a while, but now crowd-sourced giant Wikipedia is entering the multimedia era with its new HTML5 video player… and it’s about time.
The new player will hopefully make it easier for users to contribute more audio and video to Wikipedia articles, which have been largely text-based up til now — there are only around 15 500 videos on the site at the moment, which are using Wikipedia’s old Ogg Theora player which has been in use since 2007.
The new HTML5 player is a result of a combined effort between Wikipedia, Google and open-source video start-up Kaltura. According to Kaltura, its player will be deployed on Wikipedia and Wikimedia Commons, aims to bring educational content to users, in a variety of languages and on a number of devices, through captions and timed text.
It’s not a simple embed-and-go solution though: Wikipedia won’t let you quickly copy and paste a video via a line of html because it doesn’t want to be dependent on third-party videos sites that could one day disappear. Its player is instead fully integrated into Wikipedia’s existing framework, which means videos need to be uploaded to the site and converted to run in the player — although you can embed and share them from an article page to other platforms. Wikipedia said that thanks to the player’s WebM support, users can import freely licensed videos from YouTube. The player will also detect a visitor’s bandwidth limitations and adjust the videos accordingly depending on the size of their screen, but they haven’t enabled the mobile functionality as yet.
Even though video is a more static medium which isn’t as easy to adapt and edit as text, the player still holds true to some of Wikipedia’s open-source qualities. Users can transcribe and translate videos into different languages, edit captions and create remixes and mashups. There’s also a upload wizard to simplify the process, and Wikipedia is continuing to work on their systems to make it easier to upload large files in smaller chunks.