We all love Wikipedia, but have you ever wondered why there isn’t a video version of Wikipedia yet? It’s 2017, you can stream 4k videos on YouTube, yet we don’t have a basic video version of Wikipedia.
For the last 16 years, building a multi-media encyclopedia was considered impossible because videos once uploaded on the internet cannot be updated again and Wikipedia relies on being continuously edited and updated.
Therefore, the founder of Wikipedia, Jimmy Wales quoted "Building a collaborative multi-media encyclopedia is not possible"
VideoWiki cracks the problem of re-usability of video files and proves that building a multi-media encyclopedia is possible.
Imagine seeing Usain Bolt’s world-record breaking 100 meters race rather than just reading about it. Imagine seeing a rare footage of Einstein or watching the beautiful Aurora lights while learning about them.
The future of Knowledge cannot be confined to text only. We, human beings perceive information visually and the sum of all human knowledge should also have a visual medium. In a future, where more of our interaction with technology is through images, videos and soon augmented reality (ARKit and ARCore) VideoWiki will play an important role in viewing Wikipedia.
Plot Twist: Hosting VideoWiki
VideoWiki is unlike any project adopted by Wikimedia Foundation (the non-profit that hosts Wikipedia)
The entire Wikipedia, YES!! the entire Wikipedia (5.4 Million Articles) can be converted to VideoWiki for just $110,000.
Even though the cost of creation of a VideoWiki article is very low ($0.02), the Hosting and Bandwidth cost of VideoWiki will be in Billions of dollars and the amount will compound every year, as every edit / update of an existing VideoWiki article will take up additional storage.
YouTube’s hosting cost would be the best analogy to understand VideoWiki’s hosting costs.
Monetization of VideoWiki, therefore becomes a necessity, not a luxury
There are 2 important points that needs to be discussed about the future organization structure, if Wikimedia Foundation adopts VideoWiki.
1. Organization Structure
There are 3 ways to organize VideoWiki:
a) Non-Profit Organization — Ideally speaking, this would have been the best option. However, no tax officer would allow an organization that will have millions in dollars of revenue to go tax-exempt irrespective of their noble cause.
b) For-Profit Company — Report to Venture Capitalists (‘VCs’) and external shareholders — Raise money from VCs at the start and eventually do an IPO and be responsible to external shareholders. In this path, VideoWiki will have to focus on profits and be responsible for maximizing financial gain for its shareholders.
c) Hybrid Organization — Report to Wikipedians — Get acquired by Wikimedia Foundation and be a wholly owned taxable subsidiary that serves the non-profit, public benefit goals of its parent, the Wikimedia Foundation, and all Wikipedians.
This model is similar to the model adopted by the champions of the free web, Mozilla Foundation. Mozilla Corporation (for-profit company) was incorporated by Mozilla Foundation to handle the commercial activities of Mozilla Foundation.
The unique combination of a non-profit company owning all the shares of a for-profit subsidiary will be the best organization structure to ensure integrity and sustainability of Wikipedia and VideoWiki.
The Wikimedia Foundation will ultimately control the activities of VideoWiki Inc and will have 100 percent ownership of the new subsidiary. Any profits made by VideoWiki will be invested back into Wikimedia projects. There will be no shareholders, no stock options will be issued and no dividends will be paid.
VideoWiki will not be floating on the stock market and it will be impossible for any company to take over or buy a stake in VideoWiki. The Wikimedia Foundation will continue to own VideoWiki trademarks and other intellectual property and will license them to the VideoWiki Inc. Therefore, VideoWiki Inc will be an organization that serves its creators, Wikipedians themselves.
2. Monetization by Ads
Wikimedia Foundation’s Budget (of $100 Million) cannot afford the hosting costs of VideoWiki. Fund-raising for a Billion Dollar (and increasing) every year is not a sustainable practice.
Even Bill Gates won’t just give away $1 Billion every year to host VideoWiki.
Monetization by Ads will become necessary to sustain VideoWiki. However, Monetization via Advertisements for Wikipedia has been a big NO-NO until now, because Neutrality is essential for an encyclopedia to make it a reliable source and running ads directly on Wikipedia threatens neutrality.
We can ensure that Wikipedia’s and VideoWiki’s integrity is maintained and still sustain VideoWiki by the following:-
a) By displaying Ads ONLY on VideoWiki (www.videowikipedia.org) and keeping Wikipedia (www.wikipedia.org) free from ads. VideoWiki Inc. being a commercial and taxable entity can earn revenue, and the hybrid structure of Wikimedia Foundation (non-profit) and VideoWiki Inc. (for-profit) allows Wikipedia to be completely free from Advertising money.
As long as Wikimedia Foundation is a non-profit, consensus-seeking, democratic, board-run organization, then there is no danger of advertising revenue from it’s subsidiary VideoWiki Inc.
b) Text CANNOT be edited on VideoWiki, as VideoWiki automatically imports and updates the text from Wikipedia. This ensures that VideoWiki Inc. has no editorial control over the Wikipedia encyclopedia and hence cannot influence or provide favorable coverage for an Advertiser.
Therefore, Wikimedia Foundation can run its operations as it has always done and VideoWiki Inc would be responsible for sustaining VideoWiki by Ads.
At the end of the day, it is Wikimedia Foundation’s Board of Directors decision on how to proceed ahead. However, Organization Structure and Monetization via Ads are fundamental issues to the functioning of Wikimedia Foundation and therefore the opinion of all Wikipedians should be considered.