Tag Archives: Social Media

Youtube: Getting It Right

youtube
I am on the train when I get the word. Miley Cyrus has released her new video. Naked and
swinging from a wrecking ball apparently. I am immediately overcome by an inclination to whip out my trusty smart phone and watch it. As much as I could give or take the increasingly scandalous offerings of Billy Ray’s younger daughter, this is current. Miley Cyrus is trending off the wall lately and I want to be involved in the conversation.

Yet I refrain. The opinion of a cellphone sales rep a few months prior resonates through my brain.
“It should be good for day to day use,” he had told me when I enquired about my data
requirements. “It’s sites like Youtube that are the killer.”
And so I reluctantly curb by pop culture appetite and resolve to scrutinize the video when I get home and back to the land of the WiFi. I just can’t spare the data for Youtube sessions on the train.

Sound familiar? Probably. Whether you’re standing in line at the movies, waiting on a bus or just hanging around while your other half tries to pick out a pair of shoes, Youtube is your own personal and seemingly endless library of entertaining and/or informative video content, just waiting to help you pass the time. Alas unless you’ve got your modem in your bag, it’s going to have to be 3G or bust.

That is, my friends, until now.

On September 17th, Youtube announced, via it’s Creator Blog, that it’s introducing a new feature for it’s mobile app.

Starting in November users will be able to store videos from the site on to their devices for later viewing when there is no internet connectivity. That means you can pick your videos while you have an internet connection and have at them at your leisure long after your connection is gone.Pretty nifty eh?

Here’s a quote from the brief and relatively vague blog post:
“This upcoming feature will allow people to add videos to their device to watch for a short period when an Internet connection is unavailable. So your fans’ ability to enjoy your videos no longer has to be interrupted by something as commonplace as a morning commute.”

Now, I know what you’re thinking; “Why is this relevant? Didn’t Youtube announce this last year?” Well, close but not quite. In June 2012 the site came out with the ability to precache videos for later viewing. The gist being that while, yes, your videos would be preloaded from your device, you still had to be online to actually watch them.

What makes the latest announcement so relevant, in addition to being incredibly innovative and just downright handy, is that it is a huge step for Youtube whose terms of service currently prohibit downloading of content. Not since its inception in 2005 has the company allowed users to do so, thus rendering this a pioneering move for the media giant.

Proving that being the dominant force in online video sharing is no excuse to rest on one’s
laurels, the update is the next step in a succession of recent developments by Google-owned
Youtube for it‘s mobile app in an effective attempt to keep up with the smart phone society we live in. In addition to last year’s preached video feature, in August of this year, the site unveiled a sleek new navigation tool that allows users to watch a minimized video while continuing to browse the site, enabling an easier flow of content and increased usage.

Unfortunately though, the most recent update of the app comes with a catch. You didn’t think Youtube would let us download all the content we want just like that did you? According to reputable tecch blog, AllThingsD.com, via an email sent from Youtube, content downloaded to the “on device” section of the app will only be available to watch offline for a period of 48 hours, after which time, users must reconnect to the internet in order to refresh the selection.

There is no indication yet as to whether the site has secured rights to allow music videos to be downloaded, however temporary, but it’s definitely not something I would assume to be the case. Youtube has promised more details in the run up to the update next month.

Still though. Overall, it sounds pretty generous to me. And with mobile viewing comprising over 25% of Youtube’s global watch time, there is little wonder why the company is taking every step to remain relevant and socially up-to-date in this fast-paced electronic generation. It’s exciting and simply begs the question, “what next?”.

Irony, Thy Name Is… Me?

I am your archetypal daydreamer. I mostly wander around with my head in the clouds carelessly minding my own bidness until something provokes enough thought that I feel like I have to come down for a minute to say something about it. Well recently I read an article that roused me from my mental hibernation. It was called ‘The Voice of The People’. It was in Sundays’ ‘Life’ magazine with the Independent and was written by a guy called Declan Lynch.

The subheading read: “There’s a reason why everyone doesn’t have a voice and a reason why bloggers are just bloggers.”

Now, usually I’m not one to get all antsy over something between the two covers of a magazine that comes free with the Sunday paper but this particular scribe implicated me. He implicated and he criticized me and any other person out there who has the audacity to flaunt freedom of expression in the form of… A blog!

The article wasn’t directly about blogging really. It was about how we have become a nation of uncertain nitwits who call for a referendum at the first hint of a political decision needing to be made. That’s all fair enough but Declan pointed the finger. A bold enough move when you’re pointing it at the majority.

Basically, Mr. Lynch griped sarcastically for a few hundred words about how blogging has become so popular in recent years and how it’s killing “real journalism”. He reckons that because anyone can write a blog, the integrity of the journalistic vocation is, essentially, being shit on by every Tom, Dick and Harry with a laptop and a basic ability to type/form an opinion.

The first conclusion to spring to my mind upon reading the piece was that there was no way in hell that the writer was below the age of 40. You know that TV show that used to be on BBC called ‘Grumpy Old Men’ where people like Bob Geldof , Jeremy Clarkson, Rory McGrath and the like just sat there and grumbled about things that they didn’t understand? That’s what it put me in mind of. It was like listening to an old man giving out about how it’s far from blogging he was raised and things, of course, were better when he was a buck. And BINGO, further research tells me that Declan Lynch was born in 1961.

In Ireland, we’re terrified of change. Kind of the point of Mr. Lynch’s story in the first place. So it’s hypocritical enough to see the article pan out as the words of a middle-aged man who appears petrified that his job might be at risk to some, in his own mocking words, “desperado” with a blog.

The thing is, in one respect, I can appreciate where he’s coming from. I can see why he feels that his professional toes are being stepped on by the simplicity and freedom that the 21st century and the internet culture provide. There is, no question, an abundance of personal blogs out there covering just about every topic you can think of and laymen with too much time on their hands are behind a vast majority of them.

In another respect, however, I feel that Mr. Lynch is an intolerant old stick-in-the-mud who has a dislike for modernism and the fact that it is now possible for everyone to have a voice regardless of whether they’re endorsed by a publication or not.

I have a degree in Journalism from Dublin City University. I spent three years earning it. About a year and a half into my studies I came to the realisation that, while I loved to write, I had very little interest in resigning myself to a life limited by word counts, deadlines, uninteresting subject matter and the brutality of editors. The reality of the profession was revealed to be a million miles from the idealistic reason I got into it in the first place. Where I wanted journalism to be a craft; something you could be creative with, an outlet for originality and flair, I was thumped in the face with a reality of ruthlessness, confinement and censorship. I finished my studies, graduated with the rest of my class and, while most of my peers ventured off into the cut-throat world of professional journalism, I ventured into the unexpected but wholly more gratifying terrain of childcare, where I today remain.

Point being? That not everyone who writes a blog is an uneducated imbecile who doesn’t deserve a voice, as Mr. Lynch not so discreetly implies. I take exception to the notion that just because a person chooses to write on their own terms it makes them less of a writer than someone who gets paid to roll out mundane “inverted pyramid” style news articles for a broadsheet paper. While a payroll journalist gets the freedom to write about whatever the editor decides, the blogger utilises initiative and crafts something. The blogger has the creative independence that the paid reporter can only hope to someday earn professionally and the blogger can, if he plays his cards right, generate as much attention for their work as any byline can for theirs.

The fact is that, as much as old school “I used to have to walk a mile in the snow just to get clean drinking water” grouches like Mr. Lynch are loathe to tolerate it, the internet is the future of communication. Matter fact, it’s not even the future. It’s the present. This month, Encyclopaedia Britannica announced that, after 244 years in print, it would now only be available online. I mean, I love books (I refuse to ever have a Kindle, for example) but if that’s not one of the final nails in the coffin of the printed word, I don’t know what is. Also, here’s a link to an article listing all the major news stories that were broken on twitter (by the layman) before anywhere else: http://www.techradar.com/news/internet/10-news-stories-that-broke-on-twitter-first-719532

In his tirade, Mr. Lynch alleges that “being good is not the point anymore.” Well, I respectfully disagree with that principle. Being “good” remains an essential component in any piece of journalism whether it comes in the form of an article, a column, a blog or even a tweet. Regardless of the encompassing accessibility of blogging to anyone with a notion to be heard in some way, good writers remain; There are people out there who are perceptive, creative, witty, outspoken and ingenious. They write, undiscovered and unappreciated. But doing it for one common reason: A love of writing.

And what’s wrong with that Declan Lynch?