kottke.org posts about YouTube

YouTube is the dominant force in musicApr 01 2013

This is a nice article about how memes are often made or promoted deliberately by financial interests and not because of a spontaneous popular uprising, but mostly I wanted to highlight this statement:

Google's YouTube, not Apple's iTunes, is now the dominant force in music.

I've been convinced for awhile now that YouTube and not Android or Google+ will be their main source of revenue if/when Google's search business wanes. (via @claytoncubitt)

Watch full-length movies on YouTubeFeb 20 2013

This Reddit group is collecting links to full-length movies and TV shows that are available on YouTube. Like this unauthorized copy of Django Unchained:

See if you can get through the whole thing before it gets taken down.

Update: David reminded me that you can actually watch full-length movies and TV shows on YouTube for a rental fee. (thx, david)

YouTube gun nut shot deadJan 11 2013

Keith Ratliff posted dozens of videos showcasing high-powered guns on his popular YouTube channel, FPSRussia. Last week, he was found dead with a single shot to the head, surrounded by several guns...but not the gun that killed him.

The news, coming amid a national debate about gun control, rippled across the blogs and social networking sites where his videos were popular. Tributes on Facebook and Twitter came from fans stunned that such a well-armed expert had not been able to defend himself.

"For him not to pull out that gun and try to defend himself, he had to feel comfortable around somebody," his wife, Amanda, told a television channel in Lexington, Ky., where he used to live. "Either that or he was ambushed."

Here's a FPSRussia video showing off a fully automatic shotgun that can shoot 300 rounds per minute even after being submerged in water:

And this drone with a machine gun on it is terrifying:

(via the atlantic)

Update: Just to clarify because I'm getting a bunch of mail about it, Ratliff was a gun nut and the owner of that YouTube channel, but he was not the person in all those videos...he was more like the producer/camera operator.

Also, that quadricopter machine gun thing is CGI and a commercial for a video game. Soon enough though.

YouTube founders acquire DeliciousApr 27 2011

AVOS, a new internet company founded by YouTube founders Chad Hurley and Steve Chen, has acquired the social bookmarking service Delicious from Yahoo!

Why has Yahoo! chosen to transition Delicious to AVOS?
While we love Delicious (and our users love Delicious), we wanted to find a home for the product where it can receive more love and attention. We think AVOS is that place.

When will AVOS officially start running Delicious?
We anticipate Delicious in its current form will be available until approximately July 2011. By agreeing to AVOS's terms of service upfront, you will allow us to move your data when the time comes to transfer control to AVOS.

Delicious founder Josh Schachter reacted to the news on Twitter, saying:

inbox asplode!

YouTube Time MachineSep 09 2010

You give it a year and YouTube Time Machine will show you videos of events from that year. For instance: 1894, 1943, and 1991. A super idea. (thx, alice)

Viacom vs. YouTubeMar 22 2010

In defending itself against a copyright lawsuit brought by Viacom, YouTube notes that the media company has been surreptitiously uploading its copyrighted content to YouTube for years.

For years, Viacom continuously and secretly uploaded its content to YouTube, even while publicly complaining about its presence there. It hired no fewer than 18 different marketing agencies to upload its content to the site. It deliberately "roughed up" the videos to make them look stolen or leaked. It opened YouTube accounts using phony email addresses. It even sent employees to Kinko's to upload clips from computers that couldn't be traced to Viacom. And in an effort to promote its own shows, as a matter of company policy Viacom routinely left up clips from shows that had been uploaded to YouTube by ordinary users. Executives as high up as the president of Comedy Central and the head of MTV Networks felt "very strongly" that clips from shows like The Daily Show and The Colbert Report should remain on YouTube.

This jibes with what I heard a couple of years ago:

I heard that the staff of the Daily Show and Colbert Report upload the shows to YouTube as soon as they can after the shows air and then the next day, lawyers from Comedy Central hit YouTube with takedown requests for the uploaded shows.

(thx, @peretti)

Cory Arcangel's atonal YouTube cat video mashupJul 28 2009

Drei Klavierstücke op. 11 is a set of pieces written for the piano by Arnold Schoenberg in 1909, some of the first western music to written in an atonal style. Cory Arcangel took a bunch of YouTube videos of cats playing the piano and fused them together into a performance of op. 11.

This project fuses a few different things I have been interested in lately, mainly "cats", copy & paste net junk, and youtube's tendency in the past few years to host videos that are as good and many times similar to my favorite video artworks. I think all this is somehow related.

Cory's no-bullshit statements about his art are just as entertaining as the work itself:

So, I probably made this video the most backwards and bone headed way possible, but I am a hacker in the traditional definition of someone who glues together ugly code and not a programmer. For this project I used some programs to help me save time in finding the right cats. Anyway, first I downloaded every video of a cat playing piano I could find on Youtube. I ended up with about 170 videos...

You can catch Cory's project in-person at Team Gallery in NYC and at Kunsthaus Graz in Austria.

Josh PoehleinApr 10 2009

Josh Poehlein's Modern History project takes screen grabs from YouTube videos and assembles them into collages.

Josh Poehlein

These are wonderful. And he's giving them away.

I am offering large printable files to anyone interested at no cost. Computer files are the most easily reproducible information on the planet. In this particular case I see no reason to imbue a false sense of preciousness on the work. The information I gathered to create the collages is publicly availaibe, and the collages themselves are no different.

(via conscientious)

YouTube, remixedMar 05 2009

Thru You is a site that showcases remixed YouTube videos...the singing from one video combined with the drums from another and the piano from a third and so on. I was skeptical but these are really well done. Do I even need to say that this reminds me of Christian Marclay's Video Quartet? (via sfj)

Bernstein conducts Shostakovich with YouTube vocalsJan 14 2009

Leonard Bernstein conducts Shostakovich's Symphony No. 5 while comments from YouTube commenters are read. (via the rest is noise)

Obama's fireside chats on YouTubeNov 17 2008

Aha, Obama will be doing online fireside chats, but in video format on YouTube.

Online political observers say President-elect Obama's innovative, online-fueled campaign will likely evolve into a new level of online communication between the public and the White House -- the Internet-era version of President Franklin Roosevelt's famous "fireside chats" between 1933 and 1944.

Here's Obama's first video address as President-Elect. His transition team, potential cabinet members, and other experts will also be recording videos in the coming weeks.

High quality YouTube video hackNov 13 2008

You may have noticed that the video of Burn-E I embedded looked a bit better than a normal YouTube video. YouTube has been quietly offering high-quality versions of some of their videos for quite some time via a "watch in high quality" link just underneath the player. It's not HD, but it's definitely an upgrade of YouTube's legendarily crappy video quality. By default all videos on YouTube and embedded on other sites load at normal quality, but there's a way to set your default viewing quality to high, link to high quality video, embed HQ video, and even save HQ videos for later viewing.

Set your default viewing quality to high:
When you're logged in, go to Account / Playback Setup / Video Playback Quality and set the option to "I have a fast connection. Always play higher-quality video when it's available."

Linking to YouTube videos in high quality:
If you need to link to a high quality video on your blog, append &fmt=18 onto the end of the YouTube URL, like so:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MuqiGrWBRqE&fmt=18

Upon arriving at the YouTube page, you'll see the highest quality video that YouTube pushes out. The full technical details are available here...basically it's a mp4 encoded using H.264 with stereo AAC sound at 480x360.

Embedding high quality YouTube videos:
The &fmt=18 trick doesn't work here, but a similar trick does. For each of the URLs in the embeddable code that you get from YouTube, add &ap=%2526fmt%3D18 onto the end, like so:

<object width="425" height="344"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/MuqiGrWBRqE&hl=en&fs=1 &ap=%2526fmt%3D18"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/MuqiGrWBRqE&hl=en&fs=1&ap=%2526fmt%3D18" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="425" height="344"></embed></object>

Saving high quality YouTube videos:
When you're viewing a high quality video on YouTube, you can use the KeepVid bookmarklet to download the mp4 file for later viewing on your computer, iPod, or iPhone. I tested this with the Burn-E video and the resulting mp4 was in letterbox format (480x198, or roughly the standard 2.40:1 aspect ratio).

BTW, here's a comparison of the low and high quality for the same video.

Low quality:

High quality:

Sources: Yahoo! Tech, jimmyr.com, My Digital Life.

Update: I switched the example videos and code because YouTube took the Burn-E video down.

Update: I got an email from a YouTube engineer who tells me that format 18 isn't even the highest quality you can get. Check out Dancing Matt in format 22, aka 720p. Furthermore, some videos don't have a format 18 version (if the uploaded movie doesn't have sufficient quality, for instance). (thx, phil)

Meta YouTube artNov 03 2008

A collection of meta YouTube video art.

YouTube video turned into gameSep 25 2008

Someone has turned a YouTube video into a rudimentary game using the annotation feature.

You get to the "next level" by clicking annotations, which loads the next video. If you want to cheat ahead, all of the videos are available here.

Update: Andy points out that this YouTube text adventure game predates the game above.

James Danziger on the photographs of theApr 15 2008

James Danziger on the photographs of the Florida teens accused of beating a classmate and filming it for YouTube.

The pictures of the accused are startling in the banality of the faces. (While the spelling of many of the names -- April, Britney, Brittini, Cara, Kayla, Mercades, Stephen, Zachary bring to mind a revived Mouseketeers.) A number of the girls look surprisingly similar, but minus the prison garb, they could just as easily be reacting to a berating for poor schoolwork. The boys, who were posted as lookouts while the girls carried out the beating, look a little more ready for jail.

The pictures are fascinating in the narrow range of emotion they convey, from self-pity to sullenness, but to my mind all stop before genuine contriteness. (I'm reading this in, of course, but I have a hunch I'm right.) Yet there's an all-American look to these kids that can only remind us how narrow the line is between good and evil.

The original photos are here.

Uncomfortable Goggle-Eyed Staring Silence Plus Finger Gesture Oddness MemeJan 17 2008

While you were having a life, this was taking place quite rapidly on the tubenets.

I may or may not be headedJan 16 2008

I may or may not be headed out to South Carolina this weekend—their Democratic primary takes place on January 26th—and the new way of learning about places before ya go is YouTube tourism. Apparently there is a lot of hunting (yikes!), fishing, and drag queens in blackface (double yikes). And then, on a much more serious note, there's this short video of "Jared trying to live it up a few days before being sent to basic training at Fort Jackson, SC." It's posted a woman who wrote that "I am twenty years old..believe it or not. I am missing my husband terribly. He is at basic training in Fort Jackson, SC. He will be graduating in March. I can't wait!"

I have finally found the guy IJan 15 2008

I have finally found the guy I want to marry. Seriously, this is my favorite YouTube video right now, and I'm not even sure that I can explain why. Something about the soft color, and the quiet. And he's so sensitive. (I sure hope he's 18 or older or I'm gonna feel real bad inside.)

Wow, Vimeo has videos in HD...theOct 12 2007

Wow, Vimeo has videos in HD...the best quality I've seen from one of the big video sites. You get so used to watching crappy quality stuff on YouTube that you forget how nice it can look.

Congrats to the Vimeo team on theJun 27 2007

Congrats to the Vimeo team on the launch of the latest version of the site. Here's the announcement post. The login/signup page is awesome. I also like how Vimeo has found room in the crowded video-on-the-web field, even though YouTube dominates the space. Vimeo is to YouTube as Facebook is to MySpace...not in terms of closed versus open (you do know that Facebook is AOL 2.0, right?) but in terms of being a bit more well thought out and not as, well, ugly (and not just in the aesthetic sense).

Regarding the recent Google news (YouTube, DoubleClick,Apr 16 2007

Regarding the recent Google news (YouTube, DoubleClick, Dodgeball), Fred Wilson tells us it's time to pour a little malt liquor on the ground and say goodbye to the old Google, the Google that we all know and love, and welcome the new Google, a big company, for better or worse. "Google's lawyers are going to become their most important asset and when lawyers are more important than engineers to a company, you lose."

Public and permanentMar 21 2007

Marc Hedlund, founder of the intriguing Wesabe, recently made this interesting observation:

One of my favorite business model suggestions for entrepreneurs is, find an old UNIX command that hasn't yet been implemented on the web, and fix that. talk and finger became ICQ, LISTSERV became Yahoo! Groups, ls became (the original) Yahoo!, find and grep became Google, rn became Bloglines, pine became Gmail, mount is becoming S3, and bash is becoming Yahoo! Pipes. I didn't get until tonight that Twitter is wall for the web. I love that.

A slightly related way of thinking about how to choose web projects is to take something that everyone does with their friends and make it public and permanent. (Permanent as in permalinked.) Examples:

  • Blogger, 1999. Blog posts = public email messages. Instead of "Dear Bob, Check out this movie." it's "Dear People I May or May Not Know Who Are Interested in Film Noir, Check out this movie and if you like it, maybe we can be friends."
  • Twitter, 2006. Twitter = public IM. I don't think it's any coincidence that one of the people responsible for Blogger is also responsible for Twitter.
  • Flickr, 2004. Flickr = public photo sharing. Flickr co-founder Caterina Fake said in a recent interview: "When we started the company, there were dozens of other photosharing companies such as Shutterfly, but on those sites there was no such thing as a public photograph -- it didn't even exist as a concept -- so the idea of something 'public' changed the whole idea of Flickr."
  • YouTube, 2005. YouTube = public home videos. Bob Saget was onto something.

Not that this approach leads naturally to success. Several companies are exploring music sharing (and musical opinion sharing), but no one's gotten it just right yet, due in no small measure to the rights issues around much recorded music.

Creators vs. lawyersJan 30 2007

Here's a fun rumor. I heard that the staff of the Daily Show and Colbert Report upload the shows to YouTube as soon as they can after the shows air and then the next day, lawyers from Comedy Central hit YouTube with takedown requests for the uploaded shows. Which makes total sense...sort of. The people making the shows want them to be seen while the lawyers want to ensure that people are paying to see them. It's a crazy media world we live in.

Nasty Nets used CSS positioning to "embed"Jan 29 2007

Nasty Nets used CSS positioning to "embed" one YouTube video into another. "Be sure to hit 'play' on both YouTubes." Reminds me of the animated GIF mashups (more).

Google is now including YouTube videos inJan 26 2007

Google is now including YouTube videos in Google Video search results. I love the smell of synergy in the morning.

Deaf people are making good use ofDec 18 2006

Deaf people are making good use of YouTube. "Many of them aren't comfortably fluent in written language. For many more, sign is and always will be their first language. YouTube gives them an easy, expressive, unmediated channel for many-to-many communication." (via rc3)

New modes of production result in new forms of media, not alwaysNov 13 2006

Before YouTube and Google Video came along, video on the web often suffered from taking too many cues from the production values of traditional media. Even in the early days of YouTube, a typical video made by someone for an audience was like a mini-movie: 15 seconds of titles, followed by 10 seconds of the actual content of the video, and then 10 seconds of closing credits. Eventually, many people came to realize that all that crap at the beginning and end was unecessary...it's OK not to have a 40 second video if you only have 10 seconds of something to say. Ze Frank took this notion to the extreme; he often launches right into something at the beginning, eschews transitions, and he just stops at the end. If an episode of The Show is 2 minutes long, it's because he has 2 minutes of something to say.

Podcasters have been slower to break out of the mold provided by talk radio. The playing of music before segments and as transitions between segments makes some sense on the radio, where it's used in some cases to fill airtime. But for podcasts, there's no need to fill airtime with anything but content. 30 seconds of music before the actual podcast begins is the audio equivalent of Flash splash pages on web sites. For instance, the Diggnation podcast has 10 seconds of ads and 30 seconds of theme music before the hosts start talking and even then it's more than a minute before there's any new information. It's important to set expectations and the mood (also know as branding), but it's possible to do that in a much more economical way -- something more akin to the Windows startup sound + "hi this is [name] from [name of show] and let's get started" -- or at other times during the podcast.

Interestingly, when I was looking around for examples of this wasted airtime, the folks making the most economical use of the listener's time in producing podcasts were from the mainstream media. That is, the people innovating on the form are not the same as those who are innovating on production. Perhaps in an attempt to seem more credible, native podcasters have embraced more traditional forms while those with experience producing audio content for other media are more free to tailor their content to the new medium.

YouTube's popularity and recent sale to GoogleOct 13 2006

YouTube's popularity and recent sale to Google is hurting Universal Tube and Rollerform Equipment Corp's business; their web site, utube.com, is getting millions of hits from misdirected video viewers and the companies regular customers can't get in to purchase equipment.

Google acquires YouTube for $1.65 billion. (thx, meg)Oct 09 2006

Google acquires YouTube for $1.65 billion. (thx, meg)

A bunch of Andy Warhol videos on YouTube.Sep 22 2006

A bunch of Andy Warhol videos on YouTube.

Stylus magazine has a list of theirSep 21 2006

Stylus magazine has a list of their top 100 favorite videos, complete with embedded YouTube clips of the videos themselves for your instant gratification. Ok, now let's fight about what was excluded and how wrong that is... (via paul)

A controlling interest in Connected Ventures (whichAug 15 2006

A controlling interest in Connected Ventures (which includes CollegeHumor) has been purchased by Barry Diller's InterActive Corp (press release). Congrats guys! Although I don't agree with the choice of suitor...I hate IAC-owned Ticketmaster with the fire of 50 suns. Possible hidden benefit: IAC now has a YouTube competitor in Vimeo.

John Battelle heard that YouTube is worth $1Jul 24 2006

John Battelle heard that YouTube is worth $1 billion and calls bullshit on whoever believes that. As Tim Shey notes, lots of people are comparing YouTube to Napster (except for YouTube, of course), and I think the comparison is apt. Both services have potentially infinite intangible value but little business value.

Boing Boing has information on YouTube's recentlyJul 20 2006

Boing Boing has information on YouTube's recently revised Terms and Conditions, which now state that they can use uploaded video for pretty much anything they want. For some users, that may be a steep price to pay for "free" bandwidth. The longer term question is, can YouTube find a business model that won't completely screw up their wonderful offering or will they ultimately go the way of Napster?

ESPN writer Bill Simmons lists his YouTubeJun 27 2006

ESPN writer Bill Simmons lists his YouTube Hall of Fame videos.

Get yer Richard Feynman on at GoogleMay 10 2006

Get yer Richard Feynman on at Google Video, particularly this 50-minute video of The Pleasure of Finding Things Out. A bit more Feynman at YouTube.

Great extensive list of old Sesame StreetMay 04 2006

Great extensive list of old Sesame Street videos that you can watch on YouTube. Oh, the nostalgia. (Rubber duckie!!!)

BitTorrent = launching a mission to MarsApr 28 2006

Must be something in the water today...Paul Boutin has a story on Slate today that makes the same point about BitTorrent, YouTube, and Google Video that I did this morning (although somewhat more succinctly and entertainingly):

The guys behind YouTube hit the sweet spot. Most important, they made it head-slappingly easy to publish and play video clips by handling the tricky parts automatically. Given up on BitTorrent because it feels like launching a mission to Mars? If you've sent an e-mail attachment, you've got the tech skills to publish on YouTube.

The final paragraph of the article contains this interesting bit:

The same Alexa plots that show MySpace and YouTube obliterating top sites reveal that Flickr, Digg and del.icio.us have plateaued with audiences barely bigger than Slate's. Photos, news, and other people's bookmarks just aren't as interesting as bootleg TV and checking out the hotties. The easier it gets to use, the less geeky the Net becomes, and the more it starts to look like real life.

Expect more bootleg TV and hotties from kottke.org in the future...I need some Alexa love.

BitTorrent, YouTube, and Google VideoApr 28 2006

The other day I realized that within my little online social circle, there's been a lot less mention of BitTorrent lately. It used to be that someone would link to a cool video, the site hosting the video file would go down because of high traffic, and then someone who grabbed the video before the outage would put it up on a torrent site so that everyone could see it again.

And then YouTube and Google Video came along. They offered free hosting and fast (free) bandwidth for videos so when people want to put some neat video of something on their sites, they just slapped it on YT or GV and pointed to it. And more important to the point about BitTorrent, they work completely within the browser environment. You upload videos to YT in the browser (GV has a standalone app for uploading) and the Flash-based viewer works in the browser (most Web users have Flash installed). They offered a seamless end-to-end solution to finding and watching videos all in one application.

Compare that with how you typically watch a video with BT. First you download a torrent file, then open that file up in your BT client (which you need to have previously downloaded and installed), then the file downloads, and finally you open that file in a media player, generally QuickTime, Windows Media Player, or some other player that needs to be downloaded and installed...and hopefully you have the right versions and codecs for the video in question. And that's just the viewing side of things...publishing videos via BT was even more difficult, particularly for non-technical folks.

That BitTorrent took off at all is a testament to the utility of downloading files from multiple sources simultaneously, but it's also telling that once an easier-to-use alternative came along that offered many of the key advantages of BT, people switched1...and really quickly too. Eventually BT will have to find its way into the browser (AllPeers is promising a Firefox extension that will do just that) and somehow overcome the multiple media players problem in order to find success.

[1] For videos of the type I'm talking about anyway. BT is by no means unpopular these days, particularly for feature-length movies, lossless music files, and other really large files. YT and GV are only taking BT's "marketshare" in the realm of short video.

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