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Jan 29 2009   12:57PM GMT

Overheard – Wikimedia and Mozilla hook up to shake up

Margaret Rouse Margaret Rouse Profile: Margaret Rouse

Today, video and audio on the web are dominated by proprietary technologies, most frequently patent-encumbered codecs wrapped into closed-source player widgets. Wikimedia and Mozilla want to help to build a web where video and audio are first class citizens: easy to use and manipulate by anyone, without compulsory royalty schemes or other barriers to participation.

Erik Möller, Mozilla and Wikimedia Join Forces to Support Open Video

Mozilla and Wikimedia share a strong commitment to open standards. Version 3.1 of the Mozilla Firefox web browser will include built-in support to play audio and video in the open source Ogg Vorbis and Ogg Theora formats. All audio and video in Wikipedia is stored in these formats.

This is interesting. Mozilla gave $100,000 to the Wikimedia Foundation to “help coordinate improvements to the development of Ogg Theora and related open video technologies.”  That’s not a lot of money, but it’s generating a lot of buzz because it’s a step towards open video standards.  Christopher Blizzard (Mozilla) does a nice job explaining how a better Ogg would potentially open up the market for streaming video and knock both Adobe (Flash) and Microsoft (Silverlight) off their proprietary thrones.

Ogg isn’t a file format — it’s a container format.  What’s that? Well, when you order something from Amazon, it’s put in a box and the UPS guy delivers the box to your house.  On the Web, when you order a streaming video, think of Ogg as the virtual box that’s used to deliver the video to your computer.   Wikipedia has a handy chart that compares container formats.

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