Thoughts on Open Format Obstacles

A discussion on the Xiph 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.

2 Responses to “Thoughts on Open Format Obstacles”


  1. 1 michael

    Freedom is catchy :) so eventually open formats will become ubiquitous as they are compatible with free software where close formats are not. We of course all have to work very hard towards that goal but I think its going to happen. We can already see it tricking through… As open source software intermingles with the process of standardization free formats are the only compatible choice: http://metavid.ucsc.edu/blog/2007/03/23/ogg-theora-as-standard/

  2. 2 Steve

    The biggest obstacle to adoption in my opinion is that there needs to be a reason for the community at large to adopt it- beyond the Linux community. The best way to do this is to have formats that are technologically superior, and demonstrably so- like Vorbis and FLAC. Theora never seems to feature in any video compression tests, and that’s a shame: without any proof that it’s a good format, the people who could really carry it forward see no reason to change from what works well.
    I can virtually assure you that if Theora starts (or is) competitive with the next-gen video formats (H.264, VC-1), people will start using it more heavily.

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