Thursday, November 30, 2006

Reasons YouTube Rocks!

I'd always intended to do a companion piece to my recent "Reasons YouTube Sucks" post and I've been prompted to do it now because somebody has linked to it from a forum somewhere which has sent a bunch of new readers here. I think it's only fair that while the negative article is generating some interest I take the time to highlight the positives.

There is no getting around the fact that the number one benefit of YouTube is that it's free. I've said this before but it really is astonishing that this service is available for free. The second best feature of YouTube is that they've made it so damn easy to upload videos. Once your account is set up, you upload videos with a few clicks. No special software requirement. You're not made to jump through hoops. You just get your videos up with a minimum of fuss.

Then there's the audience. The number of views enjoyed by the highest performers make it clear the potential audience offered by YouTube is well into the hundreds of thousands if not millions. No other online platform offers this potential audience. Nobody. I'm open to being shown otherwise but I'm not aware of any podcasts that are being downloaded hundreds of thousands of times. I'm not aware of any personal websites or blogs being viewed hundreds of thousands of times a day.

Another one of YouTube's great advantages is that it's the world's biggest test lab - for amateurs and professionals alike. Some professional producers are starting to work this aspect of YouTube out. The opportunity to test what works and what doesn't has never existed on this scale before. This can work for TV, movies, music and advertising. Forget test screenings and focus groups - that's the past. This is the future.

For me as an amateur (with greater aspirations) it's an amazing platform for developing something that works. The constant feedback loop is the best way to improve. Stand-up comedians crave stage time because doing performances is the only way to get better. But it's fucking hard to get stage time! YouTube gives you all the screen time you want and the potential for an incredibly broad cross-section of people to provide feedback. Actually, the contradictions in the feedback provide me with quite a bit of amusement and I'm not talking about the "you suck/you're great" contradictions. I don't know if the commenters notice that other people are saying the opposite but I'm always seeing "Do longer bits/do shorter bits", "Do more like this/do less like this", "Take your mask off/leave your mask on."

And while I'd love to have the tens of thousands of subscribers that the top performers have, now that YouTube is the site on everybody's lips I don't have to reach everyone, I just have to reach the right people. Case in point is the guys from "The Fizz". Like everyone else in the media, they're trying to work out if this massive activity on YouTube can be turned into something they can sell. So they've built a show around online videos and they've paid me actual currency to be part of their show. So eat that shit sandwich all you haters! Achieving you goals is definitely an awesome way to get revenge against fucked-up losers who try to drag you down.

YouTube has also been incredibly good for simply providing an opportunity to interact with great people that I never would have come into contact with otherwise. I'm not saying this just because this is the positive post to balance the negative one - the positive interactions outnumber and overpower the negative ones by a massive margin. And not just for me, the number of marginalised people I have seen gain some positive interaction is fantastic. Older people, isolated people, people with disabilities and people who were simply shy are finding this window onto the big wide world. And that fucking rocks!

And let's not forget the catharsis! Lots of people comment to me that my anger is a great outlet for them - I get angry so they don't have to or I inspire them to release their own anger positively. How do you think it feels for me? It is SO MUCH FUN to simply let loose and scream occasionally. Admittedly, I don't go crazy most of the time (I think it would get old if I did) but the creative outlet helps me be way more balanced and happy in my day to day life.

That's just a few of the reasons I spend about 40 hours a week doing this stuff. Yes, that's right 40 hours on top of my 40 hour a week day job. When you combine the work I do on this blog with the videos it's easily 40 hours in an average week. This figure tends to space a lot of people out, they can't fathom why I would spend so much time doing it. My simple response is because I'm having so much fun. Are they suggesting I should use that time doing something I enjoy less?

The shortcomings of YouTube haven't stopped making me angry (the fucked-up commenting system drives me abso-fucking-lutely crazy!) but there's no two ways about it. Despite all its failings, YouTube rocks!

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