I haven't seen it hit the mainstream IT media yet but give it a few minutes... Google has released On2's VP8 video codec... both the source code and the specification. They have created a project named WebM that includes VP8, the Vorbis audio codec, and a container format based on a subset of the Matroska media container. To get it going, they have released patches to mplayer and ffmpeg that adds VP8 support. Gstreamer is listed as coming soon.
Haven't heard of VP8? Well I'm pretty sure you have heard of the Ogg Theora video codec, right? Theora is based on On2's VP3 codec. On2 continued to work on video codecs and came out with VP6, then VP7 and then VP8... each adding an additional layer of functionality to the previous codec. VP8 is said to be a high quality video codec that is highly compressed and streams well... comparable at a technology level with the proprietary H.264 codec.
The complaint had been that Theora, being based on VP3, was good BUT that it was not on par with H.264. Now that VP8 is open, we supposedly now have a free codec on par with H.264. The question that remains is... Now what?
What to know why FOSS (Free and Open Source Software) and open standards are important? South African Minister of Public Service and Administration Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi does a wonderful job explaining in her opening remarks for the Idlelo African Conference on FOSS and Digital Commons. A text version of her speech is also available.
Let's hope that more politicians and decision makers around the globe become as informed as those in South Africa.
The Objective Observer wrote an article entitled, "Penguin Suicide Bombers: The Terrorism of Open Source". The article is quite inflammatory although along the way the author tries to justify his handle. In any event, I thought it important to give the author the benefit of the doubt and to try my best to set the record straight... or my version of it anyway... in as positive a way as possible. What follows are the two, somewhat quick emails (please forgive any typos) I sent in response to the article... oh, and I'll be happy to include any responses I get back from him if any.