The CW

No, not the new WB-UPN merged television network – I’m talking about conventional wisdom. Particularly – where does it come from? With so many other exciting things to think about this morning, what got me thinking about this? This:

“YouTube is so last month. Sure, this Web sensation became synonymous with online video less than a year after it started and then took our breath away when its twenty-something founders sold out to Google four weeks ago for $1.65 billion.

But other Internet video entrepreneurs are already looking ahead and some of what they see makes them anxious.

Already, users are finding the sheer of volume of videos available on the Internet too difficult to digest and are looking for new ways to pick through them.”

Squeeze me? Baking powder? Says who, that users are finding the volume “too difficult to digest”? Says Alan Sipress, apparently. And why would he say that?

Josh Felser, president of Grouper Networks, recently acquired by Sony, said online video sites will soon specialize. “When you go to YouTube, you’re not sure what you’re going to find,” he said. “Each site is going to have to choose a focus.”

I’m not sure why this isn’t mentioned here, but it’s entirely possible that not being sure what you’re going to find is one of the reasons people like YouTube. Because it’s different.

According to Mike Folgner, chief executive of Jumpcut, users will take matters into their own hands. They will make sense of the online anarchy by creating playlists of their favorite videos and then sharing them with their friends.

Which YouTube already does.

The challenge is only going to get more daunting. As Web sites learn how to make money off videos through advertising, there will be a push to make more and more of them available. And these won’t be limited to video sites. All across the Web, entrepreneurs will want to tap into the growing revenue stream by including video on their sites. [emphasis added]

The flood could become overwhelming unless the Internet figures out how to help users discover what they really want to watch.

Who’s overwhelmed? And as to the responsibility of “the Internet” [?] – last I checked, YouTube was something like the most popular website in the world, so they’re doing something right, presumably not involving overwhelming their users.

I’m not saying YouTube is perfect – the quality of clips is pretty low, for one – but this article to me seems like a perfect example of a phony “trend” piece, based on no actual data but with supporting quotes…that just happen to come from businessmen with a vested interest in the “trend” being promoted somehow taking root in the popular imagination.

Problem is – writing about how some hypothetical “user” is “overwhelmed” by the flood of choices on YouTube doesn’t make it so, no more than calling YouTube “so last month” actually takes a chunk out of their traffic.

The key here is in the “growing revenue stream” that Sipress cites, and also in an earlier postulate that he offers, that “[Users will] want to be given the five or 10 videos each day that best fit their interests.”

There’s absolutely no evidence for that, of course, but what he’s doing is setting up as inevitable a model where users are tied into a fee-subscription video-delivery service with some (but not too much!) control over content. Amazingly, such a model already exists – it’s called cable television, and I hear that it’s already pretty popular.

Do users want the Internet to become cable television? Maybe, but I wouldn’t bet on it – and I certainly haven’t seen any data that would support such a proposition. The purpose of articles like this, however, is to establish a false consensus  around ideas like this; to build conventional wisdom and establish inevitability around ideas that users would not find attractive without the media’s “help.”

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