Posts about youtube

Guardian column: The YouTube campaign

My Media Guardian column this week is about the YouTube campaign: the Presidential candidates (and their foes) using YouTube to fight for the White House. (Registration-free version here.) When I met YouTube founder Chad Hurley at Davos, I thanked him for changing the world — for putting the final piece into place to allow everyone to have a voice, bottom-up. I didn’t anticipate how quickly the powerful would also recognize the power of this medium, as they try to stop talking to-down and instead talk — and listen — eye-to-eye. I wrote about this on Buzzmachine about a week ago but because I’m cross-posting this on the Davos Conversation blog, I’m including the column here:

The revolution will not be televised. It will be YouTubed. The open TV of the people is already turning into a powerful instrument of politics – of communication, message, and image – in the next US presidential election. Witness: Democrats Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards; Republican Sam Brownback; and more candidates just announced their runs for the White House not in network-news interviews, nor in big, public events, but instead in their own online videos.

The advantages are many: the candidates may pick their settings – Edwards in front of a house being rebuilt in New Orleans; Clinton in a room that reminds one of the Oval Office. They control their message without pesky reporters’ questions – Edwards brought in the video-bloggers from Rocketboom.com to chat with him; Brownback, a religious conservative, invoked God and prayer often enough for a sermon; Clinton was able to say she wants to get out of Iraq the right way without having to define that way. They are made instantly cybercool – I’m told by the Huffington Post that liberal hopeful Rep. Dennis Kucinich is carrying around a tiny video camera so he can record messages in the halls of congress; and Democrat Christopher Dodd has links on his homepage to his MySpace, Facebook and Flickr sites, making him come off more like a college kid than a white-haired candidate. But most important, these politicians get to speak eye-to-eye with the voters.

Internet video is a medium of choice – you have to click to watch – and it is an intimate medium. That is how these candidates are trying to use it: to talk straight at voters, one at a time.

Clinton said she was launching a conversation as much as a campaign and wished she could visit all our living rooms, so she is using technology to do the next best thing, holding live video chats last week. Beats kissing babies.

Of course, this can also be the medium of your opposition. When former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney joined the race for the Republican nomination, conservative detractors dredged up video from a debate with Senator Ted Kennedy in which Romney espoused downright liberal stands on abortion and gay rights. They used YouTube as a powerful weapon. So Romney used YouTube to respond. He appeared on a podcast made by the powerful blog Instapundit and the campaign videotaped the exchange and put it up online, a story that was then picked up by major media.

But beware making a fool of yourself. This is also a medium ripe for ridicule. There is a hilarious viral video of John Edwards preparing for a TV appearance and primping like Paris Hilton, set to the tune of “I Feel Pretty”. Every campaign nervously awaits the embarrassing moment that will be captured and broadcast via some voter’s mobile phone; it was just such a moment that lost one senator his election and with it the Republican majority in 2006. Hours after Clinton YouTubed her video announcement, there were parody versions trying to remind us of the scandals of her husband’s administration. I, too, fired up my Mac and made a mashup comparing and contrasting Clinton’s and Brownback’s videos, counting her issues and his references to culture (read: religion), life (read: abortion), and family (read: gay marriage).

And there lies the real power of the YouTube election: candidates won’t be the only ones making use of this revolutionary new medium. Citizens will too. The Pew Internet & American Life Project has just released a survey revealing that much of the electorate is not just watching but is using the internet to influence politics: in the 2006 US election, 60 million Americans – almost half of internet users – were online gathering information and exchanging views, Pew said.

More than a third of voters under the age of 36 say the internet is their main source of political news – twice the score for newspapers.

More significantly, about 14 million Americans use the “read-write web,” in Pew’s words, to “contribute to political discussion and activity”, posting their opinions online, forwarding or posting others’ commentary, even creating and forwarding audio and video. They aren’t just consuming information, they are taking political action. And now that almost half of America is wired with broadband, they increasingly consider watching internet video to be watching TV. So the influence of YouTube will only grow.

We should only wish that this will diminish the negative influence of old TV with its battle and sports narratives of frontrunners and underdogs, with its simplistic soundbites (though there’ll be plenty of that on YouTube, too), and its nasty campaign commercials (though YouTube will have its dirt as well). But, hey, revolutions take time. And we are watching the seeds of one sprout right before our very eyes.

Davos07: Chad Hurley on Davos

YouTube founder Chad Hurley sat down with the World Economic Forum’s Claudia Gonzalez to talk about his first Davos conference and about the Davos Conversation page.

Davos07: Web 2.0hno

Another 2.0 panel in the world but a high-powered one: Bill Gates, YouTube’s Chat Hurley, Flickr’s Caterina Fake, Nike’s Mark Parker, EU Commiossioner of Information Society and Media Viviane Reding, Forbes’ Dennis Kneale, and moderator Peter Schwartz. Liveblogging in the style of David Weinberger (mix of quotes and paraphrasing). [A note from a half-hour in the future: In many ways, you'll find this panel retreading thanks to the moderator's wow-n-shucks elementary questioning; still, there are stars here.]

Hurley: Web 2.o is definitely a buzzword and it’s overused but the movement is just beginning and the movement is about tapping the power of people.

Fake: What we’re seeing is a return to the roots of the web. The web started with people communicating but in the early days we all had to be expert users. The web was distracted by web 1.0 commerce. Now the tools are easier. What the internet has alwas excelled at is connecting people to each other.

Gates: People always want some demarcation where this stopped and another began. Every year we just move to more of a digital environment and we take away the old methods. Once video gets on the internet the ability to see just the news you want, the ads are personalized, the education is interactive, it becomes very different from broadcast. The tools for people to do this are key here. We want every teacher and every student to have those tools. We need micropayments, better tools, 3D (why? he’s asked: “it turns out the world is in 3D”). I see nothing but an explosion in all this. If there’s any one thing that holds this back at all even in a smal way we need a digital rights model… causing people with content to hesitate to dive in completely, but he’s not saying that is going to stand in the way. He says we’re going to look at TV as it is today “and think it is a joke.”

Parker: It’s enabling a fundamental shift in power… to engage, to connect, to create, and do it on a scale we’ve never seen before. And that’s going to have so much ripple effect in ways we don’t even know.

Reding: Government hands off the internet, that is the first principle. Having said that, there are problems that need to be resolved. We need networls to be symmetrical and we need them to be open. She agrees that having a system of digital rights is going to be crucial for people to create and utilize content. We have all the rules in place for the old media. The new rules must lift the barriers on IPR. RIghts now are linked to national territory and we have to license for a virtual space, very soon. Many rightsholders for content, you cannot go global (because of the complication).

Kneale: At Forbes, the unofficial slogan is business good, government bad. But he challenges Reding on the European effort to create a search engine v. Google. [He's the challenger. The problem with that format is that we end up with two moderators. I want to hear more from the stars.]

Reding: The Europeans did not try to build something to compete with Google. That would be foolish. They were working on a multilingual search engine to give more people access.

Hurley: It’s changing the world because it’s giving everyone a voice… We’re not filtering what is entertaining, we created a platform for the people to say what’s entertaining to them.

Gates: Where was there a bust? He says everything about the internet grew and the net investment in the industry just continues to grow. But there is a little manic over here to the side valuing the things. The empowerment, the fun, the community, and this commercial thing of matching buyers and sellers as new revenue stream.

Schwartz to Hurley: Why are you worth $1.65 billion? [See what I mean about his questioning?}

Schwartz to Fake: Why aren't you going to go the way of Ofoto?

Fake: It sounds very utopian.. everybody has a voice and all that stuff. But what's very significant about these services is that they are organizing all this information for you in much the way that search did. You have a social network on Flickr and you will only see, if you want, the photos of the people you are interested in. We are getting almost two million photos uploaded a day and you don't want to see all that. It's the social interaction on these sites to discover the best content, to make the best content, to make it rise to the top.

Gates: This is taking all the power of the markets that exist and making them digital and more efficient. He uses Engadget as an example of a product that would not have been supportable in print.

Hurley: We're creating a new marketing opportunity for the networks... We're just concentrating on delivering short clips that promote long-form programming that you see on TV.... Working with Google, we're going to be able to present very targeted advertising that just wasn't available through traditional means.

Reding: (Asked whether Europe is as creative; where is the European YouTube or Flickr): She ignores that question and asks about individual rights: 'the long tail of infamy... and what about privacy'? I hope that these problems can be solved by the community itself and so that it will not be built up into a major problem so politicians will have to join in.

Gates: If we call the next thing Web 3.0 that shows a lack of creativity in buzzwords. He talks about 3d and speech and we overthrow textbooks on paper and tv as a broadcast media and make buyers and sellers more and more efficient then we have to have some demarcation where we say wow.

I ask how this will fundamentally change society in a few years.

Gates: These are tools of empowerment and so in a sense these are not changing society.... Now whether or not that can let society do really new things. Can it revolutionize education as you get digital curriculum that is more engaging for students more based on their level? Can you get peoople who see a poor person 3000 miles away and they're willing to give them a loan and they see their story and know they can connect. Do we weaken national boundaries and distance and lower them. Do we take complex topics and use the internet to let something like the craziiness of the budget or aid or the tax code not put people off. There is incredible promise in the two areas that are on the top of my list -- education and health care -- but that is ahead of us.

Reding: I am fascinated as a politician and worried at the same time. These are tools of transparency that will bring transparency to societys that are not transparent. We've really got a tool for democracy and a danger for nondemocratic states. So I think, yes, it is a step forward. But on the other hand, I am worried about the rights of the individual, not the society, but the individual also needs to be protected.

Question from the floor on net neutrality.

Reding: Europe is for net neutrality.

Gates: He says he and Craig Mundy came up with the term network neutrality to describe what the telecoms are up to. He also sees that places that are regulated are not building high bandwidth so we need a balance. Network neutrality really defines what fair behavior is if you're the infrastructure owner. Gates explains to the Forbes guy that this is about monopoloy (and duopoly) structure.

Gates is asked what form digital rights will take: technical, legal, etc. The moderator has Hurley answer. He describes, as he did yesterday (on the video below) waht YouTube is working on. Gates says it's solvable to make your content work across devices can be done. Making it work across manufacturers ("call it the iTunes problem") is tricky but can be done. The moderator says he's buying more music because of iTunes. Gates: "You are the one person who is buying more music."

Reding: They issued a study yesterday that says in the next five years there will be a 400 percent increase in content on the internet but that is if we get the IPR problems solved. [I'd say it's bigger than that in any case!]

Fake: The reason YouTube grew faster than Revver is that they were not being paid to make video. The web has been founded on a culture of generosity and the motivations of people are very distinct from when people want to earn something. [I'd argue that one often follows the other but not always; it's about choice.]

Davos07: Chad Hurley on YouTube… on YouTube

Here’s Chad Hurley, founder of YouTube, in a session on — cough — user-generated content (see my post below) at the World Economic Forum in Davos. He talks about what YouTube is doing on copyright, installing the means to find violations and to help holders earn money (I think of this as ringtones gone mad… the fees to license just wedding-video music would be huge). He also says that he does intend to share money with video producers; he says he did not do that at first because he wanted to build a community of people who wanted to be there to be there and who would not just leave to the next best offer.

Who needs a broadcast tower?

Marshall Kirkpatrick reports that a local TV news outlet — KZSW in Temecula, California — may be the first to start posting its stories on YouTube.

Posting on YouTube makes it easy for viewers to leave comments, pause and rewind, share videos with others, embed videos on their sites and easily watch highlights from local news if they are outside the area. It also makes it possible for people anywhere in the world to find and watch videos made by the production team of a small town station. That’s very cool.

Indeed.

YouTube for the defense

Another fascinating use of YouTube: A public defender representing a prisoner at Gitmo makes a video presenting his defense. Of course, it’s just one side. But it’s an effective use of the medium.

YouTubeTV

The Guardian says YouTube is thinking about starting a TV channel. Insert uproar from contributors over sharing in the riches here. I’ll be it will be livelier than Current.

TVJersey: Ya gotta problem with that?

My friends at the Star-Ledger have created the TV station New Jersey doesn’t have: TVJersey, a blog that will feature not only their own videos but also the videos of the people. They’re asking our neighbors to put videos up on YouTube, tagged TVJersey, and those will flow onto the blog and the best will be featured. They’re also giving the people challenges; the first is about Valentine’s day. And on the side, they suggest other events people might want to shoot.

Not only that, but the Ledger is putting its videos on YouTube so they can be discovered there, swimming with the same fishes as everybody else. Says the site:

New Jersey needs a television station to call its own. Programmed by New Jerseyans, for New Jerseyans. TVJersey has no broadcast towers, no satellites. It doesn’t even have a studio. But it has you. And what you produce, we’ll promote.

So this turns video into a local conversation, an open conversation. It also turns a newspaper into a TV station.

Mindy McAdams is already impressed.

[Full disclosure: I advised them on this.]