Results tagged “Youtube” from kwc blog

DMCA is ridiculous

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I know I've posted this before, but what happened this week is ridiculous, and you need the video to understand. If you are in the US, or a couple of other select countries, you can play the video as here that it is silent, except for some brief moments where you hear audio of the robot opening a door and plugging in. There's also a final bit of applause at the end.

If you're not in the US or a couple of other select countries, you can't play the video because UMG has issued a copyright infringement claim against the audio track. YouTube's fingerprinting scheme apparently matched the audio to something in the UMG portfolio.

At first I thought, "bugs happen, I'll click on the dispute button and this will go away."

My dispute was rejected.

We now have to file a formal notice, which may take up to two weeks to resolve and comes with threats that UMG will have personally identifiable information with which to sue us.

It may be the case that every dispute UMG receives is automatically rejected, but who knows. There's nothing transparent about the process and we don't even know what "song" we're marked as infringing.

It would be funnier if the video wasn't so important to us. It's our most heavily posted video due to a New York Times article, and it's been embedded on Gizmodo/CNet/Engadget/Hack a Day/etc.... It's also frustrating because the error message, "This video is not available in your country due to copyright restrictions," makes it sound like we chose to block the video in other countries. At the very least they could the users the truth: "our audio fingerprinting system, which has false positives, as well as a heavily imbalanced copyright act, are preventing you from viewing this video in your country."

Google may own both Google Video and Youtube, but that doesn't mean that the two have moved towards parity, yet. I tried uploading my Michael Chabon book talk clips to both services last night. I tried:

  • Google Video's Web upload form
  • Google Video's Desktop uploader
  • Youtube's Web upload form

The results are clear: Youtube wins for both reliability and speed. The Google Video Web uploader failed three times on me and all three failures occurred after almost an hour of waiting. Youtube's Web upload form was 3/3 and the videos were ready for viewing immediately after they finish. This was unlike Google Video's Desktop uploader, which took several hours to 'process' the videos after the uploads finish, and the uploads were much slower than Youtube. The Desktop uploader also has a strange behavior in which it will reject punctuation marks in your video's filename. As a software programmer, I can't think of any reason why this is necessary -- it would be trivial to remap the characters, as the Web uploader must have to do.

Another plus for Youtube: the Web upload form tracks the upload progress so you know if it is still working.

They're coming. Now that I have about 150 photosets on Flickr, I really need this type of feature -- my April Japan trip has 15 sets and the 2007 Tour of California has 7. Flickr's photostream with a small selection of sets nicely conveys a sense of what you are currently working on, but at some point you need to be able to organize your content better for visitors. Sets of sets will allow me to keep related content more closely group and I also wonder if it will allow me to better segment my content in general. I've considered creating a separate Flickr account for my more 'professional' content so that my, "ooo, that's a funny license plate" content isn't mixed in, but if the sets of sets is implemented in the right way, I wouldn't have to worry as much.

I think this is all a subset of a larger problem I have with online media sites like Flickr and YouTube, which is that very few give you enough control over your visitors' experience. When I post a video from a book talk, I would like to prominently indicate my related blog entry as well as other related videos. When I post Tour of California photos, I would like to easily link to (or even transclude) my stage summaries without having to edit the description for every single photo I upload.

These sites obviously don't have much incentive to build features that enable visitors to leave, but we often generate related content that we would like to be viewed as well. Sets of sets expands the ways in which I can have visitors navigate related photosets, but I would like Flickr and other sites to explore ways in which visitors can explore other types of related media (e.g. blog entries, photos, videos, music, etc..). Blog entries seem to be the only tool/medium that enables me to do this, but I don't see why it should be the only one.

gotuit.jpgOnline video site Gotuit has launched their Scenemaker tool, which has a great idea behind it: allow users to "videomark" a particular portion of a video and add their own tags, title, and description. I take a lot of videos at book author events, and this would mean that I could videomark a particular quote or Q&A response instead of breaking up the source video. It also means less of the "funny part occurs 2:14 in." It's not all that different from the spirit of purple numbering, for those familiar with that effort.

However, I can't really recommend using it just yet. Maybe in the future, but not just yet. I tried to videomark one of my Neil Gaiman videos, with frustrating results. It was a bit klunky but not too terrible to select the "scene" that I wanted to clip, and it was nice to be able to just load in a video from Youtube. But then came the "and now what?" moment. I wanted to post the video somewhere so I could share my clip, but the only buttons available to me were load, edit, delete, and save. All save does is save your progress clipping the video.

Then I watched the tutorial video, which ends at the exact point where I got stuck. This is where I started saying, "what the hell?" as there these are the three big features they tout:

  1. Bookmark or "Deep Tag" Scenes Found Inside Online Videos From YouTube and Metacafe
  2. Share Only The Scenes In A Video You Want
  3. Embed The Individual Scenes on Your MySpace Page, Blog or Web Site

I was still stuck on #1. I hadn't shared or embedded yet. After skimming down their gigantic FAQ, I found the answer I wanted: I have to wait until my clip shows up in their search results, load that video, and then I get the control to post the video. Yes, you have to keep searching again and again until your clip turns up.

On top of that, their site kept logging me out and the only way I can video "my videos" is by hacking a query string. These are not insurmountable problems, but it does seem that this is a tacked on feature that hasn't really been integrated into the concept of the overall site just yet.

In case you're curious, here is the result of my little test:

Google buying Youtube?

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Rumors are afoot that Google is going to buy Youtube, but this is just an excuse for me to pontificate on a discussion I recently had with a friend: can a large company (e.g. Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, Amazon) successfully create a social/community service like Youtube? Google Video is a failure in comparison to Youtube, Yahoo had to buy Flickr to supplement its photo offerings, Amazon's product tagging service sucks to use, Google's Bookmarks and Yahoo's My Web 2.0 trail (Yahoo-acquired) del.icio.us, etc... NOTE: 'large company' isn't the right label here, but 'large company that stores your private data' is a bit wordy.

Many of the failings that I perceive in Google Video are attributable to a lack of understanding of community. There isn't even an easy way to find all the videos by a particular user -- lonelygirl15 would have a much harder time gaining popularity. Some of Google Video's failings were boneheaded technical decisions -- it took over two weeks for them to approve a video that I had uploaded -- but Youtube is hardly a technical or visual masterpiece.

There are several theories one could expound: smaller companies have more 'cool', which is important to community services; there is a big first mover advantage in establishing a community service; Google/Yahoo/Amazon IT infrastructure wasn't built to do open-community-style interactions for their users (note: Yahoo is a community service, but it is a closed community). This latter reason does resonate with me a bit: this is an Amazon URL for a tag: http://www.amazon.com/gp/tagging/glance/ex%20machina/ref=tagdpct/102-8509772-8364930?ie=UTF8 . This is the same tag on Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/tags/exmachina. But I don't think it's the major reason.

My own personal theory is one of digital identity management: my Google and my Yahoo identities are too personal to give away in a community service. Google/Yahoo identities are tied to e-mail, search history, calendars, and more. If you publicly reveal that identity you at least open yourself up to more spam and at worst invite identity theft of a much larger scale: determined individuals can figure out who I am from my Flickr account, but that's because I chose to tie my Flickr account to my overall 'kwc' moniker. It's related to danah boyd's mention of managing social contexts, e.g. teens don't necessarily want to hang out in the same social space as their parents (related: MySpace is drawing older visitors, study finds).

There is also a technological corollaries to this. My "home page" for Google is private-facing while my "home page" for Flickr is public facing. A company managing your private identity has to have less lax login procedures: Flickr can keep you signed in for weeks, Yahoo needs to sign you out almost immediately. There is also screen-handle assignment: I can be 'kwc' on Flickr, due to the smaller user population, but there is no way I would ever be able to get that for Yahoo.

So, what is the point of all this pontificating? To go back to the original question, I do think big companies storing your private data can successfully create new public community services, but they have to create separated sandboxes for these services. They have to allow 'alter egos', perhaps many, so that you can remain in control of your privacy. This is what they effectively do when these large companies acquire community services, but sometimes attempt ruin the whole deal, e.g. Yahoo's announcing they will merge Flickr accounts with Yahoo! accounts. Arguably, this is what Google did with Orkut, but Orkut couldn't scale to meet demand.

Google buying Youtube would be an interesting test for Google. Google didn't really muck with the Blogger community when it bought itself into that, but Blogger's development was stalled for over a year and the service became overrun with blogspam. If Google makes the right decisions with how to Google-ize Youtube without vacating its community, then it could possibly be the start of Google becoming more of a community player. Or it could pull another Blogger and watch users run to one of the many Youtube clones. The rumored $1.6B price tag is an expensive price to find out if Google has learned its lessons.

Google Video improves?

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In my original YouTube vs. Google Video test, YouTube came out way ahead. The one thing that was really killer for me is that Google took days, in one case weeks, to 'verify' a video that I had uploaded. The need to wait an extended period was so... anti-Web. There were also plenty of other features missing, like tagging, commenting, and rating -- features that help generate a community around a pool of videos.

The Google Video team has seemed to take note of YouTube's feature lead and has sent out a mass e-mail detailing all their new features. Everything listed here has been available on YouTube, which goes to show how deficient GVideo was, but now, in a bulleted list at least, Google Video is looking more on par with YouTube. One area they might surpass YouTube is something they haven't released yet: sharing in ad revenue for the videos that you post. Whether this is text ads hosted on the side of your video or video ads before/after your clips, I have no clue. While the opportunity to make money off little videos is attractive, I'm less excited by the idea that I might have to watch more video ads (note: there is no indication that Google is going to do this type of ad, I'm just specuating).

Here's a list of the new features (in their own words, as I have neither the videos nor the time to try this out): * Instant gratification: A web-based video uploader for immediate upload and playback * Share your video with the world, or maybe just your friends: Single-click video posting to popular blog services, including MySpace and Blogger * Get involved!: Now add ratings, tags, and comments for all videos * Zeit-what? Now you can see a "Top 100" list, updated daily, that shows what people are watching * It's "Football", not "Soccer": Google Video now exists in the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Canada, Poland, and the Netherlands

Vox is great, no more crap

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My first 'review' of Vox was titled, "Vox: It's great! It's crap!", which wasn't really a review of Vox as much as an meta review of the Vox beta program, which had these odd Starter-level stalker accounts that you had to wait through. Well, SixApart started pumping out the full-level invites soon thereafter and now my Vox neighborhood is looking a lot more like my LiveJournal neighborhood; this has given much more opportunity to truly sample Vox.

I like it a lot. The Flickr, YouTube, and Amazon integration surpass what I have tried to achieve with a various MovableType plugins over time, and, as this integration is builtin, no troubles about thirdparty developer abandonment of plugins. The Vox-style gives photos, video, and products equal footing with your blog entries, which elevates it to the level of a media-management system, rather than just the blog-management system that MovableType and LiveJournal are -- I don't have a TypePad account to compare. I see it as a more multimedia-aware LiveJournal, and it also should inherit another useful trait of LiveJournal: no spam. Spam continues to be the bane of the MovableType platform, though hopefully MT 3.3 will offer more protection on this front.

MovableType remains the platform of choice if you need a customizable publishing platform. I have a great deal of control over page layout, site layout, and content that isn't possible with Vox or LJ, but neither of those latter sites is supposed to compete: they are meant to be effective through simplicity, and that they are.

I have three Vox full invites for anyone that wishes to try.

I'm a 'Director' now (YouTube)

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directorYouTube just launched their 'director' program, which kills two birds with one stone. It eliminates the recently imposed 10-minute limit on videos and it also adds much better branding to your videos (one of the few things that Google Video did better). The 10-minute limit is an arbitrary limit meant to discourage the posting of copyrighted TV programs and movies. Although YouTube built part of its popularity on the availability of such content, they are trying to make nice with the TV studios and even boldly suggesting that the TV studios post content themselves.

The intent of the director program is fairly clear: make people jump through a couple extra hoops so that they feel more accountable for the content they post. In exchange, make the people feel 'cooler' by giving them a 'Director' title and providing better branding. You apply for the Director program, so presumably they at least screen the contents of the accounts they approve. It only took me a day to get approved and none of my videos are high-quality, so I think just about anyone who doesn't break the rules will get approved.

The improved branding is important. YouTube used to make it really difficult to link to your own Web site from a video, which annoyed me when I was posting MythBusters Q&A videos and couldn't even link to my blog post about the event. Now if you go to one of my videos, you can see there's even a kwc.org logo, a big red directory stamp, and a link to my blog post. You also get to specify custom "Director Details" fields with a particular video: Video URL, Custom Field #1, #2, and #3. As an example of a custom field, they mention 'price,' which presumably you would use if you were selling the full video elsewhere. The custom fields appear in the same upper right box as your director logo.

YouTube vs. Google Video

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I recently had the chance to try out YouTube vs. Google Video as a video publisher. I had some clips from the Tour of California that I wanted to put online and my DSL doesn't do the best job hosting video.

It's hard not to notice the rise of YouTube. It seems that everytime I see a video link I end up on that site and they certainly seem to have the attention of NBC, which is sending cease and desist after cease and desist for SNL videos (is SNL officially no longer lame?). I've run across Google Video much less frequently. I wasn't sure if this was due to laxer policies on the part of YouTube in allowing content like Oscar clips or if YouTube was superior in some manner.

I believe I now have the answer: YouTube is far, far superior. Google Video does have a better video uploader, but that's about its only advantage. For my test I uploaded the same Tour of California clip to both services. Google Video took over 24 hours to 'verify' the video. I still have a video that I uploaded on February 21st (two weeks ago) that is in the 'verification' process. Time it took YouTube to post my video online: instant. 24 hours is just a mind-boggling long time to have to wait, let alone two weeks. As far as I can tell, Google Video doesn't even tell you when your video is ready, so you have to keep revisiting your video status page.

YouTube also has three features that Google Video does not: tagging, commenting, visitor counting, and rating. I don't care much for ratings, but tagging makes it easier for people to find my videos, commenting is nice for feedback, and visitor counting tells me whether or not it was worth my time even posting the video.

Both services seem to degrade the quality of the original video. The cycling videos I uploaded weren't of the greatest quality as they were shot with an ELPH, but they were definitely more intelligible than these:

Nevertheless, if you don't have to server to host the video and you want to get the video online to share with others, I highly recommend YouTube as the route to go.