You know something big has happened when Thomas and Samuel Gordon-Stewart (well, really, only Mr. Gordon-Stewart) blog about the same topic. My thoughts on the Google purchase of YouTube can be found below, my second latest post. Samuel’s can be found here. We both, apparently, have different takes on the whole issue: Thomas the pessimistic, fearful one and Samuel the happy, excited other. Upon writing my post, and then reading Samuel’s later in the day, I felt that, in the efforts of promoting the diversity and free speech that I so dearly hope YouTube’s sale doesn’t destroy within its community, I attempted to engage in some healthy debate with young Samuel by leaving a comment to his afore-mentioned post:
Quite happy? Is this really a good thing Samuel? It is in my opinion that the world and society need function beyond 1’s and 0’s, especially in this day and age of disconnectedness between persons. YouTube managed to enable it, and it’s could be under threat now. For my full and detailed opinion of this news, visit my blog, by clicking on my name above.
I thought it reflected some of my views and opinions, but merely served as a taster, so that anyone who enjoyed their whiff of Northcutt writings could simply head on over to here and read up on my full opinion. Do note, also, that this could be conceived as my first ever piece of advertising for my cherished blog.
Anyway, Samuel replied, and with gusto:
I can understand where you’re coming from here Thomas, but allow me to draw a comparison between Google buying YouTube and Google buying Writely. The latter has remained virtually unchanged since the acquisition some months ago, Google have continued to fix the beta bugs, and have moved Writely over to the Google Accounts system…other than that, not much, if anything, has changed.
When Google bought Writely, there were a few mumblings on the Internet, but not much publicity in the real world, certainly not enough to prompt talkback radio hosts who had never heard of the acquired website to interview IT journalists about it.
YouTube on the other hand is big news, both in the technology field and the financial field, and therefore Google are going to be under much more pressure to live up to expectations and not destroy the community which has grown on YouTube.
To be perfectly honest, I think YouTube is the better site, and I think Google agree, and I also think that the talks took as long as they did simply because the owners of YouTube were concerned that if Google bought it, they might destroy it. I think everyone involved wants to make YouTube the best video and related content website that it possible can be, that may involve some pay-per-view programming, but I have no doubt that the vast majority of videos (and pretty much everything contributed by users) will remain free.
At the very least, Google have the funds to handle YouTube making a loss for a while, and I’m sure they have plans for the future which will ensure the profitability of YouTube, and the continued excellent relationship YouTube has with its users.
Perhaps I’m just optimistic, but I really don’t think YouTube’s owners would have sold the website to Google unless they thought it would be “safe”.
And based on a video message posted by the former-owners of YouTube, it looks like they are staying on in executive roles, more focussed on developing the site, and not so worry about the business stuff which is now Google’s problem.
Samuel would then close his comment by linking back to the video in which the owners of YouTube announce the sale through video posted on YouTube (quite appropriate really).
I felt that, perhaps, the ambiguity of my overt advertising post didn’t quite convey what I was hoping to say, and perhaps (if the all-to-busy Samuel couldn’t find the time to really read and engage with the post below this, I can totally understand and cope with) by not really reading my post, I should make my reply comment a little more detailed (albeit longer than my original post ((seriously)):
Ah, yes, the video that send waves round the Internet pond. I saw that earlier today, and, for a moment, felt (somewhat) reassured. However, let us ask yet more questions, and consider the answers, if only to amuse me.
Negotiations took a long time because the YouTube owners wanted to ensure that their product stays in tact – that I can accept. Yet, for how long after the Google takeover are they going to be in the picture? How much say are they going to ultimately have? Are they moving from co-founders to Google employees?
These answers will have significant bearings on the future of the YouTube community, and it’s these answers that worry me. And then how much do the owners care about the culture that has been formed around and in YouTube? Do they consider it some offshoot that isn’t something they should concern themselves with? They hardly regulate ‘the community’ (only the videos, and even then primarily if they have a corporate/institutional request), and one only needs look at many of the comments left on videos. So, my concern in this regard is that they feel that their primary loyalty is to the customer in terms of the 1’s and 0’s that they provide to the world.
And I bring up the diversity on the Internet once more; Google can (though I question if they will) dictate what we can and can’t see on YouTube now. This is dangerous, not only to the freedom of speech that everyone on the Internet exercises daily, but to the freedom of the Internet. I doubt that Google has any form of agenda, but if they were to sellout to the corporate world that they are a part of, pressures exist on other companies and institutes that may then be reflected back upon YouTube as a sort of ripple effect. Everyone acknowledges that YouTube takes a ridiculous amount of bandwidth to run. Google has signed onto that responsibility. Furthermore, no company, in the capitalist world, aims at running at a loss. It’s not good business. Therefore, either Google will have to continue running YouTube out of their profits made elsewhere, or, and what I suspect may very well happen, they will have to make YouTube profitable, or at the very least, self-sustaining.
Now I hold faith in Google. They are a good company, and have always shown their intentions from the onset, in everything they’ve done. And these intentions are generally, if not always, good. But this isn’t some foray into the world of emails, like Gmail, or personal web-pages, like Google Pages, or Net-based software, like Google Spreadsheet. This is a pre-established, overwhelmingly popular, website and community. The two things have consumed many an hour of people’s man power to really become a home within the home for some people.
As you can probably tell, it’s the community that I’m most worried about. It’s because it wasn’t made by a company, it wasn’t made by the owners, it wasn’t even made with the dollar. It was made by people like me, like you Samuel. By people who wanted a voice and wanted to make something out of nothing. It’s serves as a testament to what the e-culture, the technologically capable, the nerds of the world, the social outcasts and withdrawn, can actually do. The Internet is quickly becoming a better place than reality! And it’s because of the average person sitting at their average computer living their average life, all chipping together to make something extraordinary. This is the community that I’ve chosen to become part of, that I’ve chosen to help build, and I hope (do note that I can’t choose this option) that the corporate sellout of YouTube doesn’t happen at all.
To get back to the point I had originally intended with my previous paragraph, the community focused around YouTube and existing within, it wasn’t created by a company. How could a company cater for it? How can a company ensure it’s success without ridiculous change? How can a company even possibly understand it? Even a member of the community has times when they say “Wow, how strange” or “That’s a surprise”. This is why I worry about YouTube changing hands. The community was built and existed while YouTube sat in the hands of one person. Now, not only is it going to sit in a new set of hands, different hands altogether, but it’s going to have to travel there. There is no guarantee that can be made with 100% commitment that nothing will change and the community will survive. None. People can say “We will try” or “We will look out for you” but it could be something so small as ads on the page that change everything. Who knows, the YouTube community is so unique in its structure and make-up that, in reality, it serves as a one-time experiment. So how can anyone say, can the YouTube owners, creators and workers, Google, even you and I Samuel, how can anyone say what is going to happen. You and I have done the only thing that anyone can in this situation: hope and talk. We hope nothing changes, as do many, many, people put there. We express our convictions, beliefs, our hopes and (possible) prayers for YouTube and it’s community. And that’s all, really, anyone can do.
I hope you don’t feel I’m attacking you Samuel. It’s only that the community of YouTube that I have spoken so much of is important to me. The website has transcended being a place to watch videos, to being a place to watch people. I live in the world of Vlogs over there, and so it’s no wonder that I feel so ‘emotionally involved’ with this scenario, as I have become ‘emotionally involved’ with many of the people who are going a step further than our mere blogs, and personalising the who get-up with visual and sound. Now you can see and hear and experience a person, really, writing a blog, instead of reading dots on a screen (but (and anyone in the YouTube know will understand this), as we leaned with LonelyGirl15, isn’t it all just dots on a screen anyway?).
Anyway, that’s just what I think, and of course, I encourage debate on this. Perhaps I will be viewed as some socially-deprived looney by some people. But who cares? I still have YouTube to turn to.
But for how long …
And thus I wait, with head dreary, and trying to rip-off The Raven, in the hopes that Samuel will see where I am coming from. Perhaps Sociology 1001 and 1002 (which, in my feedback note, wrote: “Though I thoroughly enjoyed the course I can see no future use for it as a job or in general” (Oh how wrong I was)) wasn’t so much of a waste of time. But this is a serious concern for me, and no doubt will be trivialised by person I know, made into a joke and the like, but it is a concern for me, for my friends that use YouTube and engage in the community on the same levels as I do. And I simply wanted to voice my concern, is all.
Hmmm, this has taken a rather personal and emotional undertone. Rather worrying really …