I decided to try out YouTube – which some people have said is the upcoming “Flickr for videos” site on the Internet. I’ve uploaded all the Route79 amateur music video productions to YouTube. There are about 25 in total – filling up three pages on the YouTube user interface.

The interesting thing about YouTube is that it makes a very brave attempt (and actually does it quite well) at exploiting the ubiquity of Macromedia Flash to share you videos with the world. So – basically, you upload your video in whatever format you like – mine were a mixture of MPEG2, DIVX and Windows Media – at whatever encoding rate you like – and YouTube will resample your video and make it available for streaming to it’s Flash player – at a video and audio rate (and therefore quality) that is just about passable in playback.

I think it works quite well – but only if you have a fast Internet connection. If your connection speed is too low (or something between your browser and YouTube is congested) – then the video playback will stall and stutter along – in which case you will have to wait until it’s all streamed and then play it again from the player’s cache. The user interface is not too bad – the whole site could be a little more finessed (like Flickr) but I think that’s just a matter of time. Best of all though – the videos you upload (or indeed the videos you discover) can be linked to from blogs – just like this:

Or they can be embedded in your blog – right in your own page – just like this: (This is the 30 second dash from the tube to my office – recorded in 2001 when my office was in Hammersmith in West London):

30 seconds from the tube to the office
(Turn up volume)

It will be interesting to track the development of YouTube – they appear to be backed by a venture-cap outfit with a good rep for spotting the next big thing. But, I think there are some interesting challenges – not least the ones in the area of copyright. You see, unlike flickr – where copyright was one-dimensional if you like – i.e. concerning only still pictures – with YouTube there are two new media formats thrown in – video and audio (and also a specific combination of video and audio) that might have copyright associated with it. Much that I hate the whole subject of copyright – if you look around some of the (admittedly banal) stuff that people upload to YouTube – there’s a fair bit that seems to be straight video-footage of TV screens – or music videos (like my own) that contain some other right-holders content – e.g. the audio dub to the home-made video – or in the case of the Two Chinese Boys video – which is the most “favourited” video on YouTube – it’s two guys miming along to a popular song called “My Way” (By the way – there is a kid in the background who seems to be totally oblivious to the two wacky guys behind him). Has copyright been infringed in any of these cases? Or can it all simply be classed as derived “art”?

Still – YouTube is worth tracking to see how it develops and adapts over time.

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