Spread Open Media/en/Thoughts on Open Format Obstacles

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A discussion on the Xiph.org Advocacy Mailing List about the lack of available Wordpress plugins for Open Formats got me thinking about the obstacles these formats face in becoming popularized.

In this specific case, we were attempting to find a good plugin for the SOM blog that would allow us to embed theora video and vorbis audio in our posts. To do so meant modifying a pre-existing plugin so they can accept these formats. It is frustrating for a “mid-level” user (of which I consider myself), with knowledge of open formats and their importance, to be unable to implement using them.

Thankfully, there are those of us who understand code quite well. In my case, I know very little about PHP, and as such, find the idea of modifying actual code quite intimidating, as would probably many mid-level users.

The question that arises is how do we expect Open Formats to take off without the ability for average and mid-level users to integrate these formats easily? Obviously this gets at a central issue that SOM will hope to solve — taking Open Formats from the more obscure to the more commonplace. A plugin that plays well with theora and vorbis is a great resource we can hopefully offer to the WP community, but that is only one of many ways we can move open formats into a more common area.

Keeping the average user in mind is very important. To truly spread open media, we have to always keep the lowest-common-denominator in the back of our mind in terms of technological prowess. Without that, Open Formats will potentially remain niche as opposed to ubiquitous.