Assuming the point of wikimedia is promote free codecs ( not get free information to people that want to access it )
To support the MP4 standard as a complement to the open formats now used on our sites, it has been proposed that videos be automatically transcoded and stored in both open and MP4 formats on our sites, as soon as they are uploaded or viewed by users. The unencumbered WebM and Ogg versions would remain our primary reference for platforms that support them. But the MP4 versions would enable many mobile and desktop users who cannot view these unencumbered video files to watch them in MP4 format.
This has stirred a heated debate within the Wikimedia community as to whether the mp4 / h.264 format should be supported. Many wikimedia regulars have weign in, resulting in currently an even split between adding the h.264 support or not. The request for comment is open to all users of Wikimedia including the broader community of readers. What do you think about supporting h.264 on Wikimedia sites ?"
Video is used widely for educational purposes on the Internet. Online videos can be an effective learning tool, particularly for people who cannot read well. However, video is not widely used on Wikimedia projects. To date, only 38,000 video files have been uploaded to Wikimedia Commons — about 0.2% of the 19 million other media files in our repository (by contrast, YouTube now hosts over 6.5 million educational videos).
One of the major reasons why there are so few videos on Wikimedia sites is that we do not support the widespread MP4 standard. Instead, we rely on the lesser-known Ogg Theora and WebM standards, whose user base is vastly outnumbered by the many users of MP4 around the world. As of this writing, about 150 million of our users are still unable to view open video files on their browsers.
The request for comment is open to the public. Readers and editors alike are encouraged to share their perspective on this potential change for video on Wikimedia sites."
To the extent of increased personal hardship from these databases; in non-totalitarian societies its unlikely to result in significant transition towards worse ( or better ) treatment of people outside social and political norms. People outside social norms have been "abused" in small circles for ages; in a larger more "anonymous" society the abuse is built into other layers of the social fabric ( id cards; state oppression etc ); Not to say all circles are created equal; but techno-deterministic dystopianism is a false premise. Technological social changes are bound to the societies in which they take place.
Within "our" global "democratic" "free market" capitalism context the macro implications of concentrated power being able to better micro manage public opinion with powerful tools for life pattern recognition models; may be more problematic then direct loss of privacy abuses that the article outlines. That is to say; all our search for "personal" connections with others may be easier to be mediated. i.e an online video chat "hang out" support group which is moderated by an inquisitive supportive digital agent. That in addition to connecting us to exactly who we needed to talk to and giving us heart felt sense of well being in the short term; is simultaneously creating voids in meaningful existence by commoditizing your values towards particular life style choices, entertaining distractions, and consumption habits that don't enable a sustainable social structure.
Where by every piece of information we look for and every social connection we make is mediated towards these "a-political" life style choices bounding political discourse and participation making it impossible to regulate such abuses enabling increasing concentration of power etc.; there-by creating a vicious cycle in which our autonomy is transformed even more dramatically then in the previous century of mass media consumption.
In other words If you have to find something positive of this whole mess, it does put a bit of a damper on our march towards singularity.
It remains unclear if the global economies can be aligned to play by these rules for slowing down technological progress, in which case we could see rise of more R&D centers in nation with more favorable systems for intellectual property management. Right now the investment trade offs have not been crossed. But at some point global innovation may transition to lots of smaller non-aligned free platforms of innovation. We can see this in non-aligned open source projects that are not subject to the more absurd patent games since they are not centers of economic power. We can see traditional of highly isolated vertically R&D centers having to reinvent the wheel on many layers of their infrastructure, or work around broad patents. This all helps slow down innovation.
Corporations will transition into organizations consisting almost entirely of lawyers that negotiate the legal implications of distributing something that is a commodity or otherwise freely available. We can see this as an extreme version of what Google is doing with android or what pharmaceutical and gene therapy research centers have become and where they are going
Its not a positive trend for innovation..But does damper relative investment into massive R&D projects with shared infrastructure and multiple layers of shared global IP, that is the basis of hyper innovation.
All this "unhealthy activity" may not be that "unhealthy" as it could help push singularity back a few years. Maybe even enable some legal and cultural framework for a structured roll out of the total transformation of everything that singularity will entail. Unnaturally stretching singularity out over the course of a few years instead of ripping apart global economies all at once. This may help avoid some serious problems, like total economic collapse in the "free" automation of "everything", that could leave billions of people without way to sustain their existence.
Mozilla knows what they doing, yes they may lose market share, but that is the nature of taking a principled decision that many people don't understand. The web will be better by getting people used to the idea that they need to support WebM in addition to H.264. As today smart phones become tomorrows calculators we won't have to pay taxes on the math that mediates contemporary conversations. Thous removing one small barrier to entry for anyone that wants to design or create audio visual communications systems.
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