Ian Morris loves televisions so much he's been banned from wedding chapels in Las Vegas for trying to marry them. When he's not romancing technology, he can be found watching American TV. Ian likes roast potatoes, but he doesn't like digital rights management.
Friday 22 May 2009, 3:07pm
Time to kill the video star as YouTube jumps the shark
Don't get me wrong: there are plenty of utterly awesome, absolutely hilarious and otherwise brilliant videos on YouTube. The service has some rather spectacular problems, too -- so much so that I am calling Google out. It's time for the search giant to call it a day on the popular video-sharing site. Here's why it should shut up shop.
Piracy on parade
Did you miss the singing Scot sensation on Britain's Got Some Moderate Talent and a Bunch of Hopeless Other People (that's what it's called, right)? Chances are that some kid with too much time on his hands has split it into 10-minute chunks and uploaded it to YouTube for everyone to watch. That can't be good for Google's attempt to beat the 'rogue' accusations from movie execs.
Dog's dinner design
Even before we get on to the video quality, there's the issue of the site design. It doesn't so much look like someone used Photoshop and planned what to do so much as a coder said something like, "I don't give a hooey about how it looks. The video window goes there, and that's the end of it". You only have to look at Vimeo to see that it's possible to make video sharing look decent.
Just about everything on YouTube -- apart from a tiny percentage of HD videos -- looks rubbish. If there is no 'HQ' option, you might as well give up: the video will look like it was shot on VHS-C in the late 80s. 'Fuzzy' and 'blurred' don't even begin to cover it.
Add to that the certainty that there will be black bars on the left, right, and up and down, and you have a real failure on your hands. Seriously, guys, Street View can blur number plates and faces automatically, but YouTube can't detect and remove black bars?
Let's say you shoot a video on your camcorder, and it's a widescreen-capable camera. Let's also assume that your widescreen camera shoots compressed, anamorphic video. You'd think that YouTube would be able to cope with that, wouldn't you? Nope. It can't. So you have a choice: either put up with a video that's too tall and not wide enough or re-encode it to a proper widescreen ratio.
It would be pretty easy for YouTube to add a 'de-compress anamorphic video' option to make problems like this go away. But it seems that YouTube has a serious case of the "you'll do it this way and you'll like it" syndrome.
UGC is OTT
When you give the general public the opportunity to submit their own work, you may soon discover that much of Britain does not, in fact, have talent. There is no quality control whatsoever. User video reviews of the latest gadgets are hand-held, poorly lit and utterly out of focus. Comedy videos are either less funny than Peter Kay or have something wrong with the soundtracks.
Every one thinks they are the next big online thing. The fact is that no one thinks comparing Bill Gates to a Cylon is funny and the sound levels are messed up.
If desk jockeys ignore their jobs while on Facebook, imagine how productivity flies out the window watching YouTube. You might love your job, but it's always going to come second to catching up on the latest clips of funny pets, people falling over and 'leave Britney alone' parodies. YouTube is worse for productivity than employing Miss Universe entrants to take tea to your male staff.
Keep it to yourself
We have to rest most of the blame for YouTube's repugnance on the idiots who use it. The comments on every single video seem to resemble the sort of nonsense you might hear at a prison. Never have more mothers been accused of birthing such a diverse range of objects or have so many people claimed to have posted the first comment, when they are actually twenty fourth.
Worst of all are the people who take a popular video -- let's say 'Ninja Cat' -- and rip the video off to provide an 'improved' version. You can't one-up a classic video with your chintzy music, lame effects or any other special tweak. Let's make a rule right now: if it ain't broke, don't make another version. Do you go to an art gallery and improve the paintings with a marker? No -- so keep your talentless hands off other people's YouTube videos.
Find the shark and jump it
The solution is simple: shut YouTube down and migrate the amusing cat videos to Vimeo. I'm not sure how to keep the idiots away -- that's a more challenging issue -- but we can make a start together today.
Comments on this post
OK, so YouTube has its problems, but the fact remains that it is still the most popular video site in the world; I use it mainly to watch musicians doing covers, and its great for that.
Posted by Stu A on Fri 22 May, 2009 7:21 PM
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