Thursday, April 28, 2011

An open letter to YouTube.

 In response to this whole debate that broke out really strongly and was initiated by Andrew and then kindled by all the other YouTubers. I can't remember such an uprising in a really long time. I mean, yes, there was a huge feedback when Dan Brown asked if he should quit Dan 3.0 but his request was aimed at particular demographic. This time however, YouTubers from different groups passionately discuss one issue together, like they never have (meaning as far as my memory can reach) and generally seem to agree with each other. I think it's beautiful. One of the problems often raised is the lack of interaction and the agreement on the issue made everybody interact in an incredible way. It really amazes me. 

So here are some of my opinions on the topic. My viewpoint may not be the same as Andrew's or John's or Danielle's or Sarah's. Also the whole thing doesn't make me as angry as others. All the same, I probably won't have any original opinions, there has been so much going on and pretty much everything I'm about to say has already been said. 

The hints of this "schism" were visible already some time ago. There was a huge debate round 2008 when a lot of people that I watch became partners and obviously many viewers weren't pleased with the fact that people make money off that while up until then it was treated like a creative outlet, a hobby  and a social-networking site. I personally thought that if someone does something he loves, has support and an audience, why can't he take YouTube as a more or less serious job? I thought that this would encourage people to make more quality videos and put greater care into them, be more consistent. 
I didn't have any problems with Johnny Durham selling his T-shirts or Mike Lombardo selling his music or Robyn Schneider selling her book through YouTube, because they're all awfully talented people. The funny thing was, they all seemed a bit embarrassed by it, they would often shyly say "I'm not trying to sell you stuff, I swear, I just thought that you might be interested. But you know guys, no pressure.". This was actually kind of adorable and everything they did was always just super good art. 
Neither was I very upset, as many people were, with the sponsor videos. I knew that Dan 3.0 was a huge enterprise and that a sponsor is necessary. But when Alex and Kristina were doing the Fiesta Movement project sponsored by Ford Fiesta, I felt like something there went terribly wrong. On the one hand, of course, once you have such audience and if someone  pays you/ gives you a car for showing the product in your video, why not do that? But on the other, it is taking advantage of what you gained through making friends to make money. I didn't have issues, but I just think that it was one of the first hints that YouTube would go in that direction (I'm speaking for people whom I watch. I'm really not a partner to talk about Shane Dawson. Not only because he's disgusting, but because for the aforementioned reason I just do not watch his videos).

Do I think that making money through YouTube has changed people on here? Yes. Of course, I am happy that Natalie Tran can be payed for spewing brilliance in everything she says and that Vlogbrothers can realize so many terrific projects through their partnership (not talking about Your Pants. A website like this is surely expensive to maintain). But for other people YouTube HAS become business and I am certain to say so. But I disagree if you say that YouTube has become all about money and that there is no space for friendships, interactions and great content. 
Something that Danielle mentioned, look at all those Collab Channels! I used to get annoyed at all the new ones starting with "5awesome..." and thought that the idea was generally old chestnut and doesn't make any sense NOW. But the interaction is amazing! Being on a collab channel now I realize how much it gives you, the interaction is amazing and friendships are being made. And I really like this thing we have. Maybe it's not about putting out first-class content or making anything new. It's about personal experience, I wouldn't care about boring the audience with unoriginal topical vlogs as long as we enjoy the experience that those who complain had had before.

This was basically in response to Sarah with whom I disagree when it comes to the actual content (by the way, I just hate the word "content" when applied to YouTube. Any other suggestions?). She says that she's bored with YouTube; she cannot even watch it anymore because there isn't anything new going on, people don't do anything that hasn't been done before. For me personally, YouTube right now is the best version of itself as I can remember. Maybe that's because back in 2007 I wasn't introduced to Nerdfighteria yet. But I am happy with the variety of my subscriptions, I watch partners, I watch friends, I watch Ena who vlogs going to and back from work, talking about who different customers were. I watch collab channels that all look the same but there is different  energy between the members. Of course I miss a bit Leah's videos (LCSsings, she took them all down from her channel page unfortunately) where she would draw her friends in crayola style or lipsinc to Queen. It was somewhat friendly, intimate, there wasn't any show-off involved, just you talking about your day and drinking a smoothie. I miss tag games, the times when you could watch 20 videos about what was under people's beds, lipsyncs. But I cannot say that this demand for "quality" means some people still don't do old school videos. Sure they won't get as recognition as in the old days, without using fancy editing software and effects. But they do this because they like those types of videos and because they have a faithful audience. And that's the whole point! There is so much talk about how it is important to make videos because you love it, not because you seek recognition! Those people do this!

Another thing that I heard was, I guess from John? Basically he said that YouTube changed so much, that people who actually make quality videos get lost in the mess of all those other videos, that they don't get promoted, because only big people, endlessly get promoted and that because all of this he doesn't want to make videos anymore and honestly he doesn't know what about. At the same time he's advocating making videos for the videos' sake and not to seek fame, so... do I have to comment? I mean, for me logic ends somewhere here.

Does YouTube's ( as company) policy needs to be changed? Definitely yes. And I think that we, as a community, can do this. The thing is about YouTube's front page (actually I had a look at it today for the very first time since I joined in... 2007? I'm always logged in so the whole piss-off people were experiencing doesn't really concern me) featuring only the most popular ones (usually being Shaytards) instead of having a random vlogger or a smaller vlogger as it used to. I still think that this YouTube revolution we're watching live right now should alarm the company and that we are able to convince them to improve this feature.

The thing about YouTube games and tricking people into giving you thumbs-up, annoying annotations and thumbnails... yes, it's all true. YouTube doesn't owe you to be famous and this site has never been about that! It was about social network and sharing your talent and opinions with other people. If your goal is just to "make it" on YouTube, then sorry, you're an idiot. Yes, Andrew, that shouldn't be the case, that shouldn't be the mentality. But this thing evolved naturally, it's people, not system. You cannot complain about that (not constructively), because it's not that people changed. What happened was, more people joined this website (as it grew) and YouTube made it possible for them to co-work with it. If there wasn't such thing as partnership in the first place would everything be different? I think that it would. But how unjust would it be for people who do awesome job on their channels and care about it? (Vlogbrothers)

So basically the point is, if you want to make videos because you enjoy it, because you have this circle of followers and it's friendly and fun, just do it! You can get annoyed with bigger YouTubers getting promoted but if you make videos for your own pleasure you should not seek that no matter what! It cannot be the trigger to stop making videos. Because that just doesn't make sense.

Is YouTube not supporting the smaller, passionate filmmakers? I think I could agree with that, on a daily basis that's what happens. However YouTube NextUp proved that claim to be wrong, it wasn't a voting for the biggest following. The point was to vote for the best videos. The reason why we all voted for those people was not because they begged and pleaded (I think we're somewhat intelligent to see through that, aren't we?) but because we liked what they were doing and they simply kindly reminded us to vote if we LIKED.

And yes, I'm looking forward to more video responses. This was an awesome way of communicating. I think we should work on that. As Kayley said, "say something". The change starts in us.

Another thing that I find significant - something that Lizzie said: learn how to tell from a good video and a cheap, artificial entertainment. Watch videos that make a difference, do not waste your time on stupid content. I think that was a really good point.

If you don't know what I'm ranting about: here. And a whole bunch of video responses. Sorry  that this is so long and that there is a very high probability I'm not making any sense, but  it's so long I can't be bothered to reread it. So please ignore ramblings and imagine some tasteful transitions.
And I have a chemistry test tomorrow. I didn't do absolutely ANYTHING. I know NOTHING about chemistry. And it usually takes me 9 hours of studying to get a decent C. So. Joy. I haven't slept for 38 hours now. Awesome.

Oh, and today I ate a lollipop I got from a (MALE!) stranger in the tramway. I didn't die. 

Song of the day: Bohemian Rhapsody - Queen

In the name of reliving YouTube's golden era for vloggers I've been watching some RockinVloggers. I got sentimental.

1 comment:

  1. I loved this. So much. Your points are so similar to what I've been thinking throughout this whole ordeal.

    I really, really enjoy reading your blog!

    I hope you continue to blog frequently! :)