The embed command, which places an object, usually a Shockwave player, inside a Web page and directs it to play some video clip on command, is the most important piece of code in our time. (There will be a test on the clip above later in this item.)
What made YouTube was this simple embed command. People don't spend their whole days at YouTube, watching its videos. They search YouTube and, when they find what they like, cut-and-paste the embed command so their own work will give the clip they have found context.
The embed command is why Google paid $1.65 billion in stock for YouTube. The embed command is why Google was hosed in that deal, because YouTube did not own, nor did it control the embed command. It was merely the first company to make embed the heart of its business model.
All the brouhaha over Viacom "taking back" its videos from Google, which even I engaged in, was in the end meaningless because of the embed command. After a very short period of time Viacom added the embed command to its Comedy Central clips, surrounding the window with its trade dress, and we all went on as before.
Embed should really be "tonight's word."
The problem with embed is that it has lacked a compelling business model, although there is one right in front of it -- advertising. Already some Web sites, like Hoffmania, have taken to putting their own marks in front of the clips they download for embedding (I don't think that should be legal. Please feel free to disagree. That's the test mentioned at the start of this item.)
I am certain that someone -- Google, YouTube, Viacom -- is soon going to start using that AdBlock feature on all embedded videos to toss video ads in front of everything we embed. (What's the right length for such an ad, the point at which people turn off the clip because they tire of the ad -- I'm guessing 10 seconds.)
We're also seeing new, paid business models emerge. One example is LikeTelevision, whose embed I used in the item I posted earlier today. (Quick, open a new browser window and go look at it again.) LikeTelevision wants to charge people for downloading whole movies and shows, watching them on that little screen. So they offer the shows' previews for free embedding, which link back to the site where they're sold. I applaud this. You should, too.
It's the embed command which has truly transformed the Web over the last two years. Embed has created the Video Web, it has enabled new video business models and, since video is the most complex file we download today, it holds the key (over the next few years) of ending the Copyright Wars.
As these new business models emerge, and as content owners see how they can benefit from freely releasing their content using the embed command, their desire for ever more-restrictive copyright laws is bound to lessen, because the cost of maintaining that regime continues to increase, and embed is showing that money to be wasted.
Sing hallelujah for embed.