Video Hosting Solutions and The Challenges of Being Not-American

Much like Henry Jenkins, I think institutions trying to “recreate Youtube” is not such a great idea (though for me the biggest reason is that our various access controls and inward focus inhibit the very ‘network effects‘ that make sites like Youtube the successes they are.) But

…like my compatriot has already explained, and something those living in the US may not realize – your ‘Patriot Act‘ and the way it treats private data means that Canadian institutions (as well as ones from many other lands, ahem, economic stimulus, ahem) are either reluctant or just totally unable to use US-based services like Youtube because your government’s access to student data (even something as innocuous as an email address) violates privacy policies, either institutional, provincial or federal. So it’s not just as simple as pointing instructors at existing services like Youtube or

While I often think the restrictions caused by our privacy policies may be blown out of proportion and need to be tested, at the end of the day it is typically a good way to shut down conversations about, and attempts to use, these services. The alternative, for people who do see the potential of ‘Web 2.0’ tools but are outside the US, is either to a) host versions of them yourself b) form consortia of institutions to host them on a larger scale or c) look for solutions based out of the US (in places with privacy legislation conducive to our own, which ultimately usually just means – in Canada). I work for a province-wide outfit in BC, so solutions B and C are typically the ones I keep an eye out for, also because of any of these options, they have the best chance of being large and open enough to enable positive network effects to occur.

The use for something like Youtube or (meaning something that allows – individual user self-contributions; wide range of uploadable codecs are handled; web-based; streams the results; embedabble videos; ideally with a social/interaction component; and even better, editing and annotation tools) is pretty compelling and there is increasingly a demand here (as I assume elsewhere) to come up with a wider solution.

So imagine my joy when someone pointed me to, a seemingly (you gotta verify these things) Canadian-based video sharing site. It joins the ranks of the following that I have come across in my searches these last few months:

  • CCHost, an open source package originally developed to power the ccMixter site
  • Kaltura, another open source package, which last time I checked was being used in the wikieducator site
  • GoTuit, a commercial package but one potentially hostable in Canada, which has a fairly sweet-looking set of additional functionality for remixing and annotation
  • Netro a Vancouver Island-based company that while I don’t think have the specific technology, may be well positioned skill-wise (and geographically) for such work

This list isn’t meant to be exhaustive and isn’t really based on any concerted effort, just things I’ve gather the last few months as this started to get on my radar. And I am NOT an expert in this field. But following the philosophy of “share early, share often,” I thought I’d throw it out there, in case it was helpful to others, in case you had others to add, or in case (it wouldn;t be the first time) I am totally off-base here and looking for solutions to problems that don’t exist. So please, let me know if, understand the issue outlined abouve, you have some other ideas we should look at. – SWL