Saturday, 18 April 2009

The Rise of Google's Censorship

I do not like to comment on the internet or so called conspiracy theories too much, as after all, the companies on here are out to make money, like anyone else (also, the irony is that I use google to host one of the incarnations of this blog). But anyhow, take a moment to watch this video:

Now, before I discuss this vid, take a look at the stats for that video. Today, they look like this:

Despite the impressive stats, it is nowhere on youtube's 'most viewed' page and in fact, only makes it to most discussed, with a much deflated stat roll:

So, it is clear that google does not appreciate discussion or criticisms about its role. Fair enough, youtube is hosted by it, so why should it take criticisms on its server. But remember one thing, google cannot obviously be trusted as an impartial web service in terms of searching etc...just remember that the next time you use it to search for criticism of it or another of its corporate buddies.


But onto the vid itself. If you have taken the time to watch it, you can see that google plans to turn youtube into what is essentially a commercial site with legitimate broadcasts of American TV shows being streamed online. Very good I think, it would be great to catch up or even see the shows online at my own convenience. The sad thing is that google seems to be marginalising what made youtube special; its social interaction, the complete randomness of the videos and the sheer depth of what is on offer. In other words, what made youtube unique compared to other video sharing websites is to be thrown to the wind. This is sad as it is going to scupper a lot of the 'partner' channels.

For those not in the know, partners are ordinary guys who have a sufficient number of followers and viewers and are partners with google in ad sharing schemes next to their videos. I think it is a great idea and here are some partners to click on and view. I think it was one of the best things about youtube, because it monetised people's talent.

The partner channels are going to get sidelined in favour of the big boys, the Disneys, the MTV's etc. In other words, the ordinary guy and gal making videos are going to get scuppered and the big boys and gals are finally getting onto youtube and cream off the top. In the past youtube worked on a ratings system. The higher rated your video, the more it shot up in the viewer rankings, onto the front page. Very democratic. Now, these ratings are being ignored, mainly due to the fact that corporate vids are usually rated very low by the viewers. It's mentioned in the video embedded in the blog, take a look at it, it is far more eloquent than this post.

While it is up to google to take its service where it wants to go (and that is a commercial decision it has to make), what I find particularly insidious is the apparent 'wool covering' that google tries to pull over the viewers eyes. Such as the burying of this video, or the the promotion of so-called amateur channels, such as 'Fred' which was mentioned in this video. In a little over six months it has leap frogged over other 'partner' channels, due to consistent promotion by google on youtube's front page. And yes, Fred does have corporate sponsorship and product placement. It is a nice earner for google, but its disguise as an amateur channel, as one of those 'youtube phenomena' is quite glaringly misleading. Again, if you use google because of its impartiality, than think again.

I set up a youtube channel as a method of hosting videos on an external site, so I don't have to use up my bandwidth. So, whatever they do with youtube is not really my business, nor do I really care. However, during my useage of youtube, I have met some really great people (in real life, shockingly for the internet) and I have discovered many great talents online. However, that uniqueness of 'the toob' is about to go AWOL. As is clear by google's censorship if this video.

Youtube seems to have been a big mouthful for google to swallow. In the past, google has been shockingly innovative with its inventions and that is one of the reasons why it has come to dominate internet useage. However, its apparent lack of innovation in the video sharing arena will be a serious blow to its stature and eventually, people will jump to other internet services. After all, who uses yahoo anymore?

1 comment:

Asad said...

A very short-sighted business path outlined there by Google. The anarchic, non-corporate feel and aesthetic of YouTube (there are far more sophisticated video-sharing sites out there) was one of its biggest assets. But something else will take its place; if YouTube wants to become the next provider of 'exclusive' content (i.e. bilge that no one wants to watch), then it's up to them...