riffs & rants blog

Content and Context: WTF is oEmbed?

cdk creative story craft oEmbed
Embedding content with a bit of context helps tell a more rich story.
You may have already seen the term, oEmbed, wondered what the hell it actually is, and why you should care. Don’t worry, I’m not gonna go all propellerhead on you here. It’s good shit. That’s why I’m jazzed enough to spend days pixel tripping over the punctuation in a blog post about it.

So, about oEmbed. I can tell you what it is, and maybe together we’ll come to grips whether it’s worthy of awhy.

oEmbed is a simple way to make the links you post on sites and social networks more rich and tasty. When oEmbed is in place and you post a link, you’ll see an image, or video, or MP3 along with the title and descriptive summary of the content to which you’re linking. That’s what happens when you post links from say, Amazon, to a social network, such as Facebook. When you do that, a pic and some copy relative to the link you’re sharing show up when you post the link. Magical. Pinterest uses it, too.

A great example of oEmbed in action is Twitter. Twitter let’s you pack up Tweets into little portable pieces of the Twitter experience and take it with you. Here it is in action:



So that’s the what. And a little bit of the why, too. See what I did there? Yeah. I tried to slide it by you. Trying to be clever gives me migraines. I should stick to simple. Keeps me outta trouble, mostly.

But I digress. The why you might care part is in that example there: it’s context. While it may not seem all that important, it kinda is. Especially if you care about what makes social networking so compelling. Especially if you care about why storycraft is getting so much attention these days. Context is at the heart of them both.

By using oEmbed, Twitter gives you all of the important bits from the Twitter experience – pretty much all of the mojo that makes Twitter so very Twitter – and makes it easy to share the original expression from a Tweet’s original context pretty much anywhere you can paste a bit of code. You can follow the Twitter account, retweet the Tweet, fave the Tweet into your default fave Tweets list, and reply to the Tweet and you get whatever inline media is within the Tweet, too. In this case, an image. All central to the Twitter experience and the intent of the content in its original context. Content + Context = Mo’ Beddah Storifyings

So that’s the what and why of oEmbed: it’s a nifty underlying technology that facilitates more rich expression of of the content you’re linking to and makes adding a bit of context to flavor the sharing that much more useful. And with it, you can add a layer of more interesting to the sharing of the stories you craft.

Another interesting way to provide context for sharing content is something we use here on our humble little Riffs ‘n’ Rants blog: Repost. Repost refers to this as Content Integrity, billing it as a way to preserve the entirety of the original post’s content. From their plugin’s page on WordPress.org:

Content Integrity
When your content is reposted onto another site, our embed code loads the content from its source at your site into the viewer’s browser. Content integrity and updating are guaranteed.

So if you click the repost button on this post, it’ll go wherever you want to post is in all its original glory. Might be particularly useful if you’re part of a network of content sharers, or if you just want to make it super easy for folks to share your stuff without it ending up mangled beyond recognition.

Oh. And one last why: Content Discoverability. Content engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo) love the straightforward cleanliness of the code because it let’s them help people more quickly and easily discover content that’s increasingly more relevant to what they’re seeking, and presents search results to us with increasingly rich depths of information. And that’s at least twice the Increasinglies for your money. What a deal.

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