Youtube paid channels might be a thing I guess

There's a website called  I didn't know that. SourceFed's latest video, YouTube To Unveil Paid Subscriptions?!, is about the rumor that YouTube may, soon, be offering paid subscriptions.  Link to the video. Embedded below.

This sounds like an awesome step up past the sponsored channels that YouTube has been funding this past year.  I love Crash Course and SciShow, and I don't mind Felicia Day's channel so much that it makes me want to unsubscribe.  Of course, I don't want those channels to jump up to a pay model -- especially with Crash Course and SciShow, that would kind of defeat the purpose.  But they do make a great proof of concept that YouTube creators can generate consistent, high-quality content that's worth a greater investment than just "You have access to our upload page."

Imagine if Tor had a YouTube channel, that financed quality adaptations of sci fi and fantasy books, the way HBO is doing for Game of Thrones.  Imagine if getting enough subscribers and jumping over to YouTube had been an option for Joss Whedon when Firefly got cancelled.

According to,

It's not clear which channels will be part of the first paid-subscription rollout, but it is believed that YouTube will lean on the media companies that have already shown the ability to develop large followings on the video platform, including networks like Machinima, Maker Studios and Fullscreen. YouTube is also looking outside its current roster of partners for candidates.

I don't think it would go over very well with fans if old channels threw up a paywall for all their new content.  But I think those channels could expand into higher quality, higher production-value work, that would go up on a new channel, and I think external producers of higher-level content might be able to step down on the payscale the way groups like Machinima would be stepping up -- like, imagine if Pixar had a channel, that just produced those shorts from the start of their movies?

This is a great example of the kinds of things that the internet and companies like Google are doing, not just to open up new opportunities for existing art to thrive, but to create new levels at which art can be successful, unpinned from the constraints of pre-existing time slots or demand based on which advertisers were willing to pay.

Lizzie Bennet Diaries episode 77 is up!

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries was gone for a week, and they left off on a huge cliffhanger -- so I'm super excited that they're back. And ohmygod it's SO GOOD.


Not really commentary, but spoiler containing blogging below the fold.

I spend the whole video really loudly hoping that the weird/quirky/cool tour guide girl was going to turn out to be Gigi.  And she TOTALLY DID!  OMGSOEXCITED

(Sorry.  I'll calm down.  This blog isn't tumblr.)

So I went and checked out Gigi's twitter, where I discovered this adorable conversation between her and Fitz:

(NOTE: I'm having problems with the tweet-embedding, so just in case I haven't been able to get it to work, here is a link to the conversation on Twitter.)

(NOTE 2: I never got it to work.  So I guess you have to click the link if you want to see that conversation.  Sorry...)

I'm so happy that Gigi likes Lizzie!  This is such a good series I can't even begin to express how into this I am.  (I really need to read the book soon.  I think I will search through my personal library today to see if I have a copy kicking around.)

Gangnam Style passed 1 billion views

Gangnam Style passed 1 billion views today.  YouTube even made a special  gif for it, dancing next to the view counter.  (For some reason, it won't let me insert the gif into the post, so you'll have to go to the video and hope it's still there.) That's about one view for every seven people on earth.  I mean, obviously it's not exactly that, because it's been more often seen by the same people over and over again than it's been seen by new people, but still.

To celebrate, here's a link and an embed to the most popular song on the internet:

Playing for Keeps

You know something that's really frustrating?  Seeing ads on YouTube, every day, for a crappy romantic comedy[1. I have no reason to think the movie Playing for Keeps is actually going to be bad, but it annoys me enough to assume it is.] that shares a name with a book you really like.  Playing For Keeps, by Mur Lafferty, is a novel about a world in which a huge number of people have super powers.  Specifically, it's about the lives of the people with the crappier powers, and how the people with the good powers push them around.  It's an excellent novel, and it would make an awesome movie.

Playing for Keeps, the 2012 film starring Gerard Butler, seems, based on its Wikipedia description, like it will make a terrible film.  But it comes out in like a week, and it features a bunch of stars and promoted by people with huge advertising budgets, so ads for it are all over YouTube.

Which is annoying.

Here's the Amazon link to the good Playing For Keeps, again.

About YouTube

Have I mentioned before that I want to make YouTube videos?  I can't remember.  Anyway, I've been thinking about it again recently, and it feels like one of those things where it's just going to keep nagging me until I finally get around to doing it. What inspired me in particular this time was Charlie McDonnell's recent video, "I'm Scared."

Depressing, right?  I know.

A lot of YouTubers have been responding to this.  I wrote a rough draft of a video script, responding to it.  I actually tried to record it, too.  But I just ended up feeling kind of gross watching the footage, and I deleted it.

I'm going to start trying to record again soon, and I think I've figured out a way I might be able to make it work.  I'm going to do the CGPGrey thing, just record sound then animate it with text and images and stuff.  It's going to be, like, crazy-hard.  But maybe it'll make me feel a little less nauseous when I create.

New David Mitchell's Soapbox: Hanging Up

The new episode of Soapbox, about that awkward way in which it seems impossible to end a phone call un-weirdly, seems to me to get it almost exactly right.

And while I do think that somehow arranging to cater a phone call would probably help (perhaps by connecting a video line and arranging to do it every time you eat dinner, with someone, whoever's available) I think that part of the problem is not just the singularly chatty quality of the call, but the minimized quantity of conversational information.

In a normal conversation, you've got body language, much less degraded tone of voice, facial expressions, and positioning, all of which to indicate your intents and desires.  It is, therefore, somewhat easier (though still often incredibly awkward) to terminate a conversation.  And via text, you've at least got so little information that it's an unambiguously alien experience, and people compensate. (brb, g2g, ttyl, etc.)

But on the phone, there's very little way to really tell whether someone's said as much as they'd like to.

Unlike Mitchell's video on Personal Debts, I disagree with his solution to the phone problem.  I like the phone.  It's useful.

YouTube read my letter!

(via hankschannel)

YouTube's Google+ style site redesign

A Two-Part Open Letter

Okay, well probably not.  It's not terribly likely that YouTube released a trial version of their upcoming site redesign because I complained about spiders.  But it remains true that YouTube's new site design does offer the features I hoped for:

It should be possible to hide a video from your results.  I would like to be able to click a little X somewhere on the thumbnail or text, or even by some more complicated option, alter the algorithms that produce lists of videos anywhere on the site so that they exclude particular videos.

I can't tell yet whether it hides the videos I remove from everywhere on the site -- and, if it doesn't, that wouldn't mean it doesn't in the official release of the redesign.  But YouTube's upcoming new homepage has a bunch of great features.

First of all, the thumbnail sizes are more reasonable.  As Hank pointed out in his video, the recommended video thumbnails used to be bigger than the thumbnails in your subscription bar.  It also grays out and labels videos you've already watched, making the process of catching up a lot easier -- I can just scroll through and find the vivid pictures.

You can activate the redesign by following the instructions on this page.

David Mitchell's Soapbox is back!

I mentioned before that David Mitchell's Soapbox was one of my favorite YouTube channels -- in fact, it was the only one I was subscribed to last year.  The central theme of that post was making the point that it was coming back, and that I was happy about this fact. Well, it's happened.  He opens with a rant about people who are surprised that not eating carbs makes you want to eat carbs; here's the video:

They will, presumably, be coming out every Thursday.  So alongside Crash Course: History, Thursdays are quickly becoming the best day on YouTube.

Information Scarcity and YouTube

If I were born just now, and plugged into a 24/7 machine that did nothing but play YouTube videos, in order of their upload, starting with the second of my birth, and I lived to be 80 years old, I would get through almost a week of videos. YouTube announced late last month that, as of their seventh birthday, May 21st, 72 hours of video was being uploaded per minute.[1. Via Boing Boing]  It's not all deeply engaging, intelligent content, but if 1% of it is, that's about 45 minutes of awesome material a day.  I think the percentage is much higher, especially if you look out for a variety of users tuned to your different interests.

And YouTube is free.  I mean, there are ads, (more on that later,) but the users don't have to pay to use the website.

This raises a lot of questions about the nature of our access to information.  I think it can be defensively argued that YouTube, and Google and Wikipedia and Khan Academy, represent the first practical manifestation of a step into a post-scarcity economy -- the fundamental resource of intelligence has been stripped of all meaningful cost, and the only factor maintaining its value is artificially controlling access to it.[2. That idea should be enough to make anyone worry.  Fortunately, it seems like Google has our backs.]

A Two-Part Open Letter

Part 1. Dear SourceFed

I recognize that you do stories on whatever's important, that you think your viewers want/need to hear about. I'm glad for that. It's important, and I think you're a valuable news source.

I also understand that it's valuable and productive to use thumbnails which concisely visually express the content of the video they're attached to.

But please, I appeal to your decency as human beings, please, stop using huge pictures of spiders in your thumbnails.

Arachnophobia is common. It's one of the most common phobias.  I accept that it's reasonable to want to encourage arachnophobic people to overcome their fears, but  I would argue that YouTube thumbnails are not the ideal context to deal with this problem.

Part 2.  Dear YouTube

I know you're not Facebook.  I'm glad you're not Facebook.  But there's one thing about Facebook's functionality I wish you'd adopt.

It should be possible to hide a video from your results.  I would like to be able to click a little X somewhere on the thumbnail or text, or even by some more complicated option, alter the algorithms that produce lists of videos anywhere on the site so that they exclude particular videos.

If I had this capacity, I could evade the problem of terrifying thumbnails like spiders in SourceFed videos, which don't just show up in my Subscription feed, but also in the related videos on the side of every SourceFed story that day, in the video player itself after the video ends, and, often, in the "More from subscriptions" box in the handful of videos that came out shortly after the video with the offending thumbnail.


Thank you both for your time,

T.X. Watson