Monday, May 16, 2011

Could YouTube turn professional?

I've just read a great BBC Click article about "Is Google taking the ‘you’ out of YouTube?". It's all about how YouTube is evolving. More and more the most viewed content is  becoming professional videos generated by corporates. Long gone, they say, are the days of cats playing the piano. I say long live cat piano, angry chip-munks, inappropriate cartoons and cute things exploding!

I have yet to engage with YouTube as a TV channel; I know it shows Channel 4 programmes now, but so far YouTube has remained a place for me to watch (mostly) amateur and semi-amateur memes. I also use it to watch premier content, such as, I guiltily confess, the first listen to the audio and preview of the video to the latest Lady Gaga songs.

The future of TV is online... or is the future of online TV? Actually it's all the same - the future is aggregated, a wonderful cross-platform smorgasbord of media. This is great but as corporations have realised and driven the future of the internet by realising it's potentential and investing heavily in it, providing rich, clean, functioning professional content are we at risk of loosing the essence? It would be daft for YouTube to forget it's roots in YOUser generated content, just as it's daft that Facebook is starting to forget it's users - both are becoming more and more driven by profit, allowing corporations to take over to the point that the user generated element that drove them to the place they are is being squashed.

In the case of YouTube - silly videos like the cat piano become viral memes that are propelled across the world and become instant hits - promoting YouTube and entertaining millions. Video blooper shows like You've been framed have never been off the air, and YouTube is the online equivalent for this kind of content. To take away the silly and focus on the professional content would drive users away from YouTube and into the arms of another platform willing to embrace user generated content. The answer - embrace both YouTube - make a clear distinction and provide us with both.

The same goes toward you Facebook, by all means fund yourself with greedy corporations wanting to advertise on your channel. But please don't forget you are a network built by people - if you spam us too much we'll go elsewhere.

You have been warned!

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