Distributable, Embeddable Content from Mormon.org

So you have the BIG idea that the Church or community needs to develop. Discuss that idea here. Maybe you just want to make a suggestion on a new forum topic. Let us know.
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jmaxwilson
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Distributable, Embeddable Content from Mormon.org

Postby jmaxwilson » Mon May 14, 2007 3:49 pm

I was watching the videos on the new mormon.org website and had an idea that I I hope that the church web department, and the members of this forum will consider and support.

The "user created content" aspect of web 2.0 has received a lot of attention. This forum is a great example of how the church is experimenting with tapping into that resource. But, because it is the Church of Jesus Christ, directed through priesthood authority and revelation, user generated content in the church's official websites has very limited applicability.

However, there is another part of web 2.0 that is equally important: distributed content and viral marketing. There are many, many members of the church active on the web with blogs and personal websites. There is a great opportunity for the church to leverage this web presence as a viral distribution channel for church produced content.

The new videos that are viewable on mormon.org are a good example. I think they are great. But they are only going to be seen by visitors to the mormon.org website. In other words, only those who have already been drawn to the website by other means will see them. However, if mormon.org would provide code next to them that viewers could copy and paste into their own blogs and webpages to embed the videos in their own websites, much like youtube and google videos can be, they suddenly become distributable. The church takes care of the bandwidth for the streaming video, but the videos are now available to visitors to personal websites of members--visitors who may never have come to mormon.org otherwise.

As they now stand, the videos can already be embedded into blogs and websites using the code below:

492x324

Code: Select all

<object width="492" height="324"><param name="movie" value="http://www.mormon.org/Static%20Files/MormonOrg/Flash/vid_player.swf"></param><param name="wmode" value="transparent"></param><embed src="http://www.mormon.org/Static%20Files/MormonOrg/Flash/vid_player.swf" flashvars="vidRef=http://www.mormon.org/media/Mormonorg/Tony_Parker_Long_Search_for_truth.swf" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" wmode="transparent" quality="autohigh" width="492" height="324"></embed></object>


The first drawback of embedding the videos like this is that they provide no built in mechanism for directing viewers to mormon.org or sharing the videos with others. I could embed the video in the sidebar of my blog and provide a link back to the mormon.org website like this:

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Code: Select all

<div style="background-color: #30587d; font-size: small; text-align: center;">
<div><object width="164" height="108"><param name="movie" value="http://www.mormon.org/Static%20Files/MormonOrg/Flash/vid_player.swf"></param><param name="wmode" value="transparent"></param><embed src="http://www.mormon.org/Static%20Files/MormonOrg/Flash/vid_player.swf" flashvars="vidRef=http://www.mormon.org/media/Mormonorg/Tony_Parker_Long_Search_for_truth.swf"
type="application/x-shockwave-flash" wmode="transparent" quality="autohigh" width="164" height="108"></embed></object>
</div><a style="color: #ffffff;" href="http://www.mormon.org">Learn more at www.Mormon.org</a></div>


Ideally, though, the videos themselves should have a built in mechanism for redirecting viewers back to the website to learn more or share the video with a friend. But including an html link in the embed code in addition to the flash would probably be a good idea so that embedded videos would be picked up by search engines with a link back to mormon.org.

The other big problem with embedding the videos as they currently work is that they play automatically on pageload. If they are embedded in a blog post or a website sidebar, the visitors to that webpage should have to click on them to play them, otherwise they could quickly become annoying.

Eventually, code that can be provided that would randomly choose one of the available videos and embed it on a webpage.

And videos are just one kind of content. Ultimately, I envision a new section of Mormon.org where people can go to get code snippets that can be copied and pasted into their blogs and websites that will display widgets of distributed content from the church ranging from video, to church press releases, to inspirational quotes from modern prophets, or excepts from the Book of Mormon, all with links back to mormon.org.

By building this kind of distributed content portal, the Church will be able to display and update its content on thousands of websites each with their own audiences and each showing up in different google searches in which Mormon.org would never show up, and members will have easy-to-use tools for sharing the gospel on the web.

What do you think? Would you embed mormon.org videos or other content on your blog or website?

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Postby WelchTC » Tue May 15, 2007 6:31 am

I'm forwarding this thread on to the group in charge of Mormon.org for their review. Web 2.0 is so much more than open source programming. Web 2.0 can expand into translation services, audio books, programming, writing, artwork. Just about anything you can think of, we could probably find a solution using Web 2.0 technologies. We have had meetings recently talking about these types of projects. These meetings have gone very well and we will be working with you on new projects coming soon.

Tom

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mkmurray
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Postby mkmurray » Tue May 15, 2007 8:35 am

I imagine there would have to be pretty thorough policies around the embedding of the content into your own personal site. It would have to be clear that the hosting site is not actually representing the Church in an official way. I do like the idea of having more "positive" hits on search engines when trying to look up information about our Church. Currently it seems balanced the other way.

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jmaxwilson
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No Need for thorough policies, just a simple disclaimer

Postby jmaxwilson » Tue May 15, 2007 9:27 am

mkmurray wrote:I imagine there would have to be pretty thorough policies around the embedding of the content into your own personal site. It would have to be clear that the hosting site is not actually representing the Church in an official way.


I don't think it would require the creation of any significant policy. As things stand now, anyone with a little technical knowledge can already embed the RSS feed for the church's website, or the newsroom, or this forum into the sidebar of their blog.

A simple disclaimer on the embedded content portal at mormon.org saying something like " Websites featuring embedded content from mormon.org in no way represent the church in any official capacity neither does embedded content from mormon.org that appears on third party sites imply church endorsement or approval of those sites or any of their other content" should be sufficient.

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jmaxwilson
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Postby jmaxwilson » Wed May 16, 2007 9:17 am

tomw wrote:We have had meetings recently talking about these types of projects. These meetings have gone very well and we will be working with you on new projects coming soon.


Tom,

Glad to hear that similar ideas are being bounced around internally. I'd be happy to contribute if I can.

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jmaxwilson
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Postby jmaxwilson » Thu May 17, 2007 10:29 am

A commentator on my blog raised the following concern, similar to that of mkmurray:
Another potential problem for the church is lack of control over context. Unscrupulous or antagonistic site owners could do damage with this kind of access: - a parody plays after the real deal - an anti-mormon site plays a video out of context, then rips it up. - General copyright concerns. Can the church maintain copyright of the material without having to constantly police to be sure that credit is give, copyright displayed, etc. This is not that important to a lot of those sharing videos right now, but I think it would be important to the Church. - etc.


It is a valid concern. And while I think it needs to be taken into consideration, I don’t think we should be overly concerned about it.

First of all, the embeddable content would have to be a little different than what is currently available on mormon.org. The videos, or other distributable objects, would have to be self-contained presentations, rather than page-context dependent. As such, each would provide context as well as contain its own copyright notice and attribution (with a link back to mormon.org).

Secondly, while the context in which they are embedded is outside of the church’s control, the content of the embeddable objects is still being served from the church’s mormon.org server. That means the church maintains control of the content that is actually delivered to the user’s browser for the embedded portion of the page, including copyright displays and attribution.

The church might also consider releasing the objects under a Creative Commons license, probably an Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

With those considerations, I don’t think that copyright will be much of a problem.

While I agree that we should be concerned about misuse by antagonistic websites, I don’t think that providing embeddable content makes the kinds of misuse you cite much more likely than they already are.

Take for instance the example of a parody that plays side-by-side with an embedded video. Any website owner who wants to do this can already do so by using an iframe tag with the src attribute pointed to the original video on the mormon.org, or they can do as I have done in my example above and use the view source function of their browser on the mormon.org website, and with only minor modification to add http://www.mormon.org/ to the beginning of the filenames, copy and paste the embedded video directly into their website. Even if they aren’t that savvy, the can simply post their parody on their website with a link back to the original on mormon.org and achieve for all intents and purposes the same effect. So providing embeddable objects really doesn’t increase the chances of this kind of antagonism any more than having the videos on the web in the first place already does.

As for the second example of a video taken out of context and then attacked as a strawman by an antagonistic website, the same is true as with the parody. They can already do this if they want to. Providing embeddable objects that are self-contained presentations, as discussed earlier would actually provide improved protection against this kind of abuse. Currently if I copy and paste the embedded video from mormon.org, as in the examples in my post, the video has no context and so it is easier to abuse in this way than an self-contained embeddable presentaion would be.

If I am right about this, then embeddable content from mormon.org would provide great benefits without appreciably increasing the chances for misuse.

danithew-p40
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i agree with what jmaxwillson is asking for

Postby danithew-p40 » Sat Jun 23, 2007 3:50 am

I would like very much to use Church videos to promote the church. I would embed these videos on my blog.

In fact I have at least one page on my blog that I would like to dedicate to what I refer to as LDS resources. I haven't developed this page much yet - but I would like to include links to a page for a free Book of Mormon, have the embedded videos and include other ideas/links that could quickly help people to find materials that would inform them in the most positive way about the Church.


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