After all, it’s pretty much just like television, only smaller. And unlike the rest of the web, video is just as much a passive experience in your browser as it is anywhere else.
Mozilla would like to change that. Developers at the browser maker’s Drumbeat project — an initiative that advocates new open web technologies — have created Popcorn, a tool intended to make web video every bit as interactive as the rest of the web.
Popcorn is a very new effort and still a bit rough around the edges, but results are already impressive. Popcorn adds metadata to HTML5 native web video, annotating videos with information like location, details about the people and topics in the video, subtitles, and licensing details. The metadata can be used in real time to add to the experience.
Check out Mozilla’s Popcorn demo page. You’ll see a number of widgets surrounding the main video. Popcorn.js pulls topics, places and people out of the video and plots the locations on a map and searches Wikipedia, Google News, Flickr and Twitter for more info on the people and topics in the video.
The result is what Mozilla developer Tristan Nitot calls “hypervideo.” What Nitot means is that Popcorn is connecting video to the rest of the web, linking it into the hypertext world.
If you’re not using a browser capable of running the demo, you can watch a video of the demo on the Drumbeat website.
As cool as this initial demo is, Popcorn is a long way from a finished product or even usable tool for anything beyond experimenting. Also, the demo shows off several widgets all at once, which makes the experience seem a little chaotic and crowded. But used as a spice, only where appropriate, Popcorn provides extra depth around videos, and the possibilities are thought-provoking.