Saturday, April 3, 2010

Happy Birthday, YouTube

Well, we all know how YouTube has been a remarkable form of free entertainment. Once we had connection speeds fast enough to appreciate what YouTube had to offer, there are few who have not at one time or another plugged in to see what they could see there.

The other day I posted on my blog here ten great jazz performances currently posted on YouTube. I still remember the first time I found a Miles Davis/John Coltrane number on the site. For a short time I was fetching all the old rock star performances I never saw live, from Hendrix and Janis Joplin to The Doors and The Who. YouTube rocks!

YouTube is great for hilarious videos. Who needs America's Funniest Home Videos when you have a universe of comic material here, and you don't have any commercials or an obnoxious show host to listen to. O.K., so it's hit and miss. Well, so was the show, too, wasn't it?

So, can you believe it? YouTube is now five years old. ONLY five years old. I mean, it seems like it's been around forever, doesn't it?

This month's Wired magazine features an article on the virtues of YouTube, and a few stats of note. In 2006, the number of YouTube videos watched a month per American was 21. In July 2007, Americans averaged 36 videos a month. In 2008, 55, and in 2009 we watched 74 per month. By December this number jumped to 97 a month. The television networks are probably starting to pay attention at this point.

But Dan Rayburn's February column at Streamingmedia.com makes the startling assertion that had YouTube not been purchased by "Daddy Warbucks" Google, the supremely popular video channel would be out of business. As much as it's been a great concept, it has been a bad business model, and they have not been good stewards of the popularity they enjoyed, failing to be good police of their content.

"And do I even need to mention how YouTube's platform was essentially allowing others to steal content and re-broadcast it on the web without any kind of control? For all the talk of YouTube's "innovation", how is it that it took a lawsuit for them to actually do something to address the issue? Shouldn't they have seen that coming? And what about Chad's assertion that YouTube's goal is, "To set the standard in online video delivery"? We all know they aren't doing that. No one thinks of YouTube for the quality of their videos, they think of the platform as a free and easy way to get content online and that's the problem," writes Rayburn, who goes on tho say, "As the industry debates when YouTube will become profitable, one thing needs to be kept in perspective. Without YouTube being sold to Google, it would be out of business.

As far as I'm concerned, the amazing thing to me is how fast all this video sharing and social networking has exploded in the past five short years. MySpace was a toddler and Facebook was still in diapers. Today, YouTube is the second most searched website on the Internet, and 24 hours of YouTube videos are being uploaded per minute.

I think I'll go outside for a walk. My head's a-startin' to swim.

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