It all began (publicly) with a press release, mid-January. No, wait. The average Wikimedian would first have had the opportunity to hear of it via a Wikinews ‘leak’. That was about a week beforehand. A few days after the press release, Jay Walsh had what must have been a baptism of fire in making the announcement to the community.
So, mailing list firebomb. The main points of contention were
- Free file formats: Kaltura is essentially a Flash thingy at heart. Gnash was talked up in response.
- Commercial advantage: It is no surprise to anyone in Wikimedia that Wikimedians are edgy about advertising. This extends to anything that looks like undue commercial advantage. Kaltura is not what you would call subtle. Everything they do is Kaltura-branded and screams “FLASHY WEB2.0 THINGY”. Their whole aesthetic is quite antithetical to ours. It is offensive to a Wikipedian’s eye. There are similar alternatives which are more acceptable in this sense.
- Lack of clear advantage to Wikimedia: I doubt Flash-based glorified slideshow editing capability was at the top of anyone’s tech wishlist. Em, sure, seems like a potentially cool idea, but not pressing or vital. Viz Greg Maxwell:
In the future I hope the Foundation will first seek community input on technology partnerships: A flash slideshow editor isn’t anything anyone here has been asking for, as far as I can tell… But we have thousands of other widely desired features, many of which could have substantial external components ripe for partnership.
In the end these concerns were all more or less assuaged by, of all people, the developers. The replies went something like
- Kaltura would only be implemented on Wikimedia sites when it was completely free (ie, Gnash works).
- This partnership is non-exclusive, ie doesn’t preclude any others being made with similar partners.
- As for lack of clear benefit, all we are doing is lending our name – at this stage not even dev resources. If lending our name leads to cool stuff becoming open source, what’s to lose?
In another post Greg commented, I’m unhappy that despite prior discussions, staff is acting like people finding proprietary formats is a surprise. (Greg would not be the only one, here.)
In the end, everyone seems content enough with where we all stand, but really, we went through some serious drama to get there. Drama started by others (like, journalists) is one thing, but I don’t think it should be quite so difficult to spot which of WMF’s own announcements are going to be the fire starters.
So there you go, that’s my view of the Kaltura brouhaha.
I suspect you’ll find that it’s not so much that everyone is “content” with where the situation stands, but rather that people ran out of energy to complain about it. The real test will be whether or not the Foundation staff makes the same mistakes again, which will obviously not be known for some time yet. And I don’t think anybody really got to the underside of the situation, which is to understand what the real motivation behind the “partnership” is. I still think that was never disclosed by Sue or anyone else on the staff.
As an aside, your blog skin doesn’t appear to display the date of your own posts. You might want to do something about that.
— Kelly Martin · 14. February 2008, 03:17
Well, yeah, “content” is probably the wrong word, but most of the major concerns seem to have been addressed in a satisfactory way – to the extent that it is possible. (If you are ideologically opposed to Flash, then even Gnash is not a real answer.)
The dates are displayed in the archive, but I will tweak the main entries a bit.
— pfctdayelise · 14. February 2008, 10:40
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