It’s easy to lose yourself in all the video at YouTube. You watch one music video, which leads to a spoof video, which leads to a stupid pet trick, which leads…who knows where. Before you know it, it’s time to leave work.
Free time just evaporates when you’re immersed in a viral video site like YouTube or iFilm, where people can upload and share their videos with friends or the entire world. So I wondered what you all thought about YouTube and other video sharing sites, and asked you to share your opinions.
Outside of concerns about YouTube’s business model (or lack thereof), most of you had positive things to say about the site and its competitors. Many of you correctly pointed out that online video is really in its early days, so other services might well eclipse YouTube in the future.
But let’s start with the praise for video-sharing sites, and how you use them. A blogger with the pseudonym Dolor Ipsum (at least I’m guessing it’s a pseudonym), noted that emailing video or making people download video would take too long — that’s why these sites have succeeded. Ipsum prefers iFilm for “the look and feel of the interface.”
Brian Goslow, who runs the Worcester, Mass., music site wormtown.org, celebrates the classic musical performances he’s found on YouTube, copyrights be damned.
“While fully understanding it totally disregards copyrights, YouTube has allowed me to see many music videos and moments — The Kinks’ Waterloo Sunset; Abba’s Eurovision performance of ‘Waterloo’ that turned them into international superstars; the Beatles’ complete Rain and Paperback Writer videos; Sparks playing ‘This Town Ain’t Big Enough’ for the first time on Top of the Pops — all musical moments I had only read about but never got to see,” Goslow wrote.
Editor/photographer Marcy, who runs the Root Magazine blog, says YouTube has been a great research tool for her to find examples of global dance styles.
“I’ve been able to post examples of ethnic dance and music on my site that readers never would’ve found on their own,” Marcy wrote. “It is addictive but once you figure out how to search without wasting time on adolescent party vids, YouTube is a wonderful thing!”
Nathan Schoenfeld, who’s a trained actor, decided to upload short 15-second clips of himself to YouTube and MySpace and was amazed at how many people watched them. Schoenfeld says it’s difficult for YouTube to stop people from uploading copyrighted material, but he prefers many of the home-grown videos anyway.
“These type of sites have allowed me to see some little movies that have been more satifying than your average sitcom,” he wrote. “I believe this will just compound the ever-growing list of things to do in front of a screen. Is it the wave of the future? It won’t take over TV but it’s not going away either. At least that’s what one guy from Middle America thinks.”
As for YouTube’s dominance, Brent Oesterblad, who runs the competing vSocial video-sharing site, had to admit YouTube was clearly leading the market.
“As a competitor within the video clip sharing space to YouTube let me clearly state — YouTube is kicking our ass,” Oesterblad wrote. “Sincere deserved kudos. YouTube has only validated the vastness the online video space represents — it is HUGE. Thank you. However, it is still only in the first quarter of the game. There is much to be decided in the coming months and years.”
A couple of you included nice predictions of where the online video market is headed. Todd Zeigler, who writes the Bivings Report, said that YouTube works as both a place for people to show viral videos, and a place for folks to share videos with family and friends. Zeigler thinks that latter function might be usurped by other services over time.
“As the space grows, features like video downloading, editing, mass storage, higher quality, etc. will become more important to people and competitors will gain market share by focusing on these features,” he wrote. “YouTube’s sheer size will prevent these sort of innovations from being fiscally possible. Being smaller (and potentially charging a small fee) will be an advantage for the upstarts.”
Ged Carroll, who blogs at Renaissance Chambara, says that YouTube and others are just the first version of what’s to come in the future. Carroll lays out a whole lot of challenges for YouTube — including the fact that the startup is currently burning through $1 million per month in bandwidth costs.
“If we lose network neutrality, port blocking and throttling by telecom companies will seriously damage these businesses, especially as telecom companies are under the illusion that they are anything more than ultility companies and are looking to be content providers or purveyors of ‘value-added’ services again,” Carroll wrote.
And just in case we were living in our always-on broadband bubble, blogger Trudy Schuett pointed out the reality for many Americans who are not joining in on the online video revolution.
“There is still a large number of people (like me) that can’t access this stuff as there is no broadband available. (sigh) I’d love to be able to see this stuff!” she wrote.