Elizabeth Edwards calls out Anne Coulter on YouTube

June 29, 2007

In March, Anne Coulter called John Edwards a “faggot” (here).  This week, Coulter said that she wished he would be “killed in a terrorist assassination plot” (here). Elizabeth Edwards then called Anne Coulter asking her to stop with personal attacks.  The exchange is on the video.

Back when I was a real practicing lawyer, I always looked for signs when a witness was uncomfortable or on the defensive.  Fidgeting in their seat, playing with their hair, smirking nervously, they’re all telltale signs of basically squirming.  You can judge for yourself how Coulter comes off on the video.      

Video of the week: Kids turn train into roller coaster

June 29, 2007

YouTube gives Smosh back views after take down of Pokemon video

June 29, 2007

News: YouTube apparently has given the Smosh boys (Anthony Padilla and Ian Hecox) back the 24 million views that were erased from their overall view count after YouTube removed Smosh’s most popular video involving a Pokemon lip synch (notwithstanding a strong parody fair use defense for Smosh). The video was removed after the copyright holder to Pokemon sent YouTube a DMCA notice.

The other big news is that Lonelygirl15 just got passed by Fueled by Ramen, an independent label.


Are you sick of the media coverage of Paris Hilton?

June 28, 2007

News:  Sen. Dodd is up this week for YouTube’s Spotlight.  He takes a back-handed slap at Hillary Clinton for using her YouTube spotlight question to ask people to select her campaign song.  (Turns out that video was the most watched video on YouTube of all the candidate videos.  What does this say about democracy?)    Dodd wants the media to focus on the real issues that people care about.  Stop focusing on Paris Hilton, or John Edwards’ haircuts. 

Tony Blair leaves office on YouTube

June 28, 2007

Whether you agreed or disagreed with his policies, Tony Blair has left his mark at least in one respect:  he’s the most powerful elected official of a country to regularly post videos on YouTube.   He’s the YouTube King Prime Minister.  Here’s why:

Hitwise survey: YouTube dominates US video market

June 28, 2007

NewsLatest survey from Hitwise (which measures unique visitors to a site) shows YouTube with 60.2% of the U.S. traffic in May.

MySpace was second at 16.08% of the traffic.  Google Video, 7.8%. Yahoo, 2.77%.  MSN, 2.09%.

This means that YouTube has more U.S. traffic than the next 64 competitors in the market combined!

Analysis: For the companies looking for a “YouTube killer,” good luck.

Sneak peak (funny) at iPhone

June 28, 2007

Analysis: I haven’t tested this out yet (it doesn’t come out until June 29 at 6 p.m.), but I think the biggest question is the lack of a buttoned keyboard for people who use Blackberrys and text messages. Have you ever been to a Panera Bread store and watched their cashiers use a pen cap to type on the keyboard screen? That’s the problem.  And there’s the cost.

MySpace TV gears up to do battle with YouTube

June 27, 2007

News: Many media companies are plotting to create the so-called “YouTube killer,” the site that will take down YouTube in videos. Today, it’s MySpace’s turn. MySpace is launching a new, freestanding site called MySpaceTV.com.   More about the new site here. Here are the key features:

1. Free standing website

2. Greater attempt to feature professional content over amateur ones. Sony is exclusively airing its “Minisodes” of Different Strokes, Silver Spoons, and Charlie’s Angels — which condense an episode into 5 minutes or less.


Analysis: MySpace is a serious competitor to YouTube. I would place it as No.2. As far as the changes go, I have a mixed review. First, I think having a free-standing site is a smart idea. That will help distinguish MySpaceTV from what most people will think about when they hear “MySpace,” the social networking site. On the other hand, I don’t like the design of the new website. It looks almost exactly like the regular MySpace website. MySpace needs to distinguish the look of the site more, so that people know it’s about videos. As it is, the site’s so cluttered. There’s just too much going on there to crowd out the video component. Finally, if MySpace wants to take a gamble on professional content over amateur content, then it needs to highlight the professional content on the front page. At least in my quick review, I couldn’t find any mention of Sony’s “Minisodes” of Different Strokes, Silver Spoons, and Charlie’s Angels. Although I probably wouldn’t bet against amateur user-generated content myself, I really love the Minisodes idea.

Here’s one Minisode video of Charlie’s Angels. If you go to MySpaceTV and search for the shows, you can find more.

YouTube says it will fix categories back to old way

June 27, 2007

News:  After The Utube Blog complained about the removal of category searching on YouTube, YouTube has announced that it will restore the function.  OK, I wasn’t the only one who complained.  Lots of people did.

User-generated “Die Hard” trailer by Guyz Nite

June 26, 2007

News:  NYT has an article discussing this mashup video made by Guyz Nite about the Die Hard movies.  Guyz Nite is a “comic rock” group that tries to summarize the plots of the entire Die Hard movies in 4 minutes flat.  When FOX movie studio first saw the video, they sent YouTube a DMCA notice to have it taken down.  Well, afterwards, FOX had second thoughts and realized that the fan video was a great way to promote the upcoming Die Hard 4.  So FOX asked Guyz Nite to put the video back up, even paying the group and sending them some preview clips of Die Hard 4 to use. 

Analysis:  FOX made a wise decision.  User-generated content can often be great, free marketing. 

More on Andrew Keen’s “The Cult of the Amateur”

June 26, 2007

Instead of writing more of my own views about Keen’s book, I’ll let this YouTuber have her say.  She didn’t even read the book, but she understood its basic idea.  Here she speaks specifically about journalism and news.

Andrew Keen’s “The Cult of the AmateurExpert”

June 26, 2007

Book review:  I’ve discussed Andrew Keen’s book “The Cult of the Amateur” once already.  I’m not sure the book deserves much more.  It’s a rant, sweeping in its attack, but thin on its evidence of support.  Today, I’ll mention one more problem I have with Keen’s argument, his romanticization of so-called “experts.”  

The Cult of the Expert in Keen’s world:  Keen romanticizes “experts” as being the preservers of “our culture.”  For example, he writes:  “the free, user-generated content spawned and extolled by the Web 2.0 revolution is decimating the ranks of our cultural gatekeepers, as professional critics, journalists, editors, musicians, moviemakers, and other purveyors of expert infromation are being replaced … by amateur bloggers, hack reviewers, homespun moviemakers, and attic recording artists.” (p. 16)

In my view, this argument is just wrong.  It’s true that, in some areas, we need experts — medicine, law, economic policy, etc.  But Keen’s not talking about those areas.  He’s talking about experts in “our culture,” which includes art, entertainment, music, movies, books, publications, news.  His idea is that experts in these areas should filter out for the rest of us things that are worthy of our time. 

There are two problems with this argument.  First of all, it’s elitist and anti-democratic.  Maybe Keen would have us elect a Minister of Culture in the United States who would decide for us what content is worth consuming?  As I asked in my last post, what “expertise” qualifies Keen, a Silicon Valley enterpreneur, to tell us what is good for protecting “our culture”?  Second, many of these areas involve matters of taste or prediction for which so-called “experts” are virtually useless.   I don’t need an expert to tell me why I do or don’t like Britney Spears’s music.  I just listen to her music and decide for myself.  Except for maybe journalism and encyclopaedias, I don’t think any of Keen’s examples involve matters where expertise can determine a “right” answer.  It’s all subjective, matters of taste.

Business and innovation are pretty similar.  There’s no “expertise” in predicting what’s the next thing that will take off.  I’ll end with a quote from the co-founder of YouTube Jawed Karim, who gave the commencement address (video) at University of Illinois this year:      

“What I learned next may sound counter-intuitive:  Don’t listen to so-called experts.  When the time came for responding, initial reactions from investors were mixed.  Some of them called the website cute, but they questioned its long term growth.   They told us get advice from experts on what to do with your website. That’s when I realized that there were no experts because, after all, if those experts really existed, how come they hadn’t built this website?  We realized that we were now experts and it was up to us to figure out how to proceed.  Within 18 months, YouTube had a far greater impact than anyone, including us, could have predicted.


“People often ask me what do I take away from this phenomenon. To me, it just shows that there are talented people everywhere.” 

YouTube users revolt over categories design change

June 26, 2007

News: In June, YouTube announced several changes to the site. Some vocal YouTube users have been very unhappy with one of the changes: YouTube’s removal of the “most viewed,” “most discussed,” “top favorited” search indicators when you conduct a search by one of the subject matter categories, such as music or entertainment. Instead, YouTube now gives only the Editor’s pick. See the photo below. The only way you can search for “most viewed” etc. is under the “Browse” feature, but that doesn’t break anything down by category.  The controversy is so big it just hit the New York Times.


Analysis: I don’t like the change, either. It’s fine if YouTube wants to add Editor’s picks, but removing the other search features (by Most Viewed, etc.) within the categories just doesn’t make sense to me. For example, I used to scroll through the 100 Most Viewed Musicians on YouTube, but now I can’t. It’s gone.

Thailand to restore access to YouTube

June 26, 2007

News:  After weeks of a ban for objectionable content (clips making fun of the Thai King) (see here), Thailand said it will restore access to YouTube this week.  More.

Ron Paul, No. 1 presidential candidate on YouTube

June 25, 2007

News: This is follow up to last week’s post on Rep. Ron Paul, the libertarian Republican candidate. This guy has the most subscribers on YouTube, more than doubling the closest competitor, Barack Obama. Based on my eyeballing the stats, I said last week I think Ron Paul gets the most views per video of any candidate, Democratic or Republican. Well, after doing a little math, my inital figures indicate that he’s killing the competition.

Ron Paul gets on average 71,000+ views per video. My guess was that Hillary Clinton was the closest competitor based on eyeballing the numbers. Hillary only gets, though, if my math is correct, 40,000+ views per video. Again, Ron Paul is nearly doubling the nearest competition.  (I hope to double check all these numbers, so take them as preliminary.)

Analysis: The key point for Ron Paul was the debate on May 3rd, where he went toe-to-toe with Rudy Giuliani and many people think only Paul was left standing. As this excellent chart shows, Paul’s subscribers on YouTube skyrocketed after the debate. Of course, the number of views for Paul probably include some people who just want to learn more about him, since he is not nationally known. Candidates like Giuliani, Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama already have the name recognition.

[Disclaimer: This is in no way an endorsement of any kind.]

Esmee Denters update: 21 days, 5 million views

June 25, 2007

News:  Esmee Denters’ video with Justin Timberlake just went over the 5 million mark, in 21 days.  That’s just amazing.  I believe the most ever views for an amateur musician video on YouTube.


YouTube Spotlight on presidential candidates

June 25, 2007

Summary: Here are the videos for YouTube’s Spotlight on the presidential candidates.  Each candidate asks a question to the YouTube community; the community responds; and the candidate can offer a reply.  These are typically some of the most viewed videos of the candidates, but the number of views still seems a bit low.  Hillary Clinton had the most views for her gimmicky video asking people to choose her campaign song.  Everyone else asked a serious question.  Go figure.  When the campaign really gets going, YouTube should start throwing videos from the candidates on the front page, to draw greater attention to them.  I’m sure some YouTubers don’t even know they exist.

June 19, 2007:  Sen. Brownback video (322,407 views). Reply

June 13, 2007: Sen. Barack Obama video (542,962 views).

May 29, 2007: Sen. Biden video (190,333 views).  Reply 1, reply 2, reply 3, reply 4.

May 22, 2007:  Mike Huckabee video (154,354 views).  Reply.

May 16, 2007:  Sen. Clinton video (616,436 views).  Reply.

May 8, 2007: Rep. Duncan Hunter video (294,199 views).

April 30, 2007:  Rep. Kucinich video (298,381 views).  Reply and reply.

April 24, 2007:  Sen. McCain video (302,149 views).  ReplyReply 2Reply 3

April 17, 2007:  John Edwards video (372,412 views).  Reply.

Tom Tomcredo challenges Mitt Romney on YouTube

June 25, 2007

News: OK, so you might tell that I’ve been studying the political side of YouTube much more.  YouTube has this cool feature called “Spotlight” in which one of the presidential candidates gets to ask the YouTube community a question and hear the responses.  Well, today, Tom Tancredo (whom I must admit I’m not familiar with) decided to use his one question to ask a question specifically to fellow Republican candidate Mitt Romney. 

Analysis:  Romney should answer the question.

Mike Gravel, “Rock” stare-down video

June 25, 2007

Mike Gravel is running for President.  He sure knows how to make a splash.  (My recommendation:  just hit your pause button for the entire video to download, then fast-forward to 1:30 minutes left in the video.)  The guy should consider getting into one of these stare-down contests on YouTube:

The Economist on the YouTube Presidential election

June 25, 2007

News:  The UK based Economist magazine has an article today about the increasing power of YouTube on the presidential election.  Here’s one passage:

“Campaigns are also more interesting these days. The droning, top-down television ads touting a candidate’s virtues and his rival’s vices are now supplemented by far more creative message-making….This year Mr Obama seems to have more internet buzz, for example claiming more (possibly, these things are hard to compare) “friends” on MySpace than does Mrs Clinton. But MySpace friends do not equal votes. Young users of new technology are not as important as the dedicated and capable “ground troops” in a campaign. The latter come from unions, religious groups and other traditionally organised blocks. Once again, Mr Dean’s story is illustrative—thousands of his enthusiastic workers descended upon Iowa for that state’s early Democratic caucus. But this much-touted “perfect storm” of volunteers, mostly non-Iowan, failed him. Name recognition, money and old-fashioned organisation are virtues that no amount of net savvy can replace. Mr Dean finished a distant third in Iowa, and never recovered.”

Analysis:  Ron Paul probably deserved some mention, particularly because he seems to fit the prototype that the Economist continually referred to — the Internet popular candidate who may have a hard time translating that into votes.  If Ron Paul is the No.1 most viewed candidate on YouTube (here), then how can you write a story on YouTube’s role on the presidential election without even mentioning the guy?   

So who’s on YouTube?: TV New Zealand (TVNZ)

June 25, 2007

TV Goodnight Kiwi

According to TVNZ, “Before 24 hour TV Goodnight Kiwi signalled the end of nightly broadcasts. The last airing of this animation was in 1994. Today the characters are regarded as icons of New Zealand culture.” Rest of videos here.

Google, why it’s the best company to work for

June 25, 2007

Fortune rated Google as the best company to work for. Here’s a brief glimpse why.

Justin Timberlake EW interview, speaks about Esmee Denters

June 24, 2007

Entertainment Weekly interviewed Justin Timberlake about his new record label.  Full interview here.

How did you decide to sign 18-year-old Netherlands resident Esmée Denters as your first artist?
Being in the business for 10 years now, you look around and some people got it and some people don’t. I saw her on YouTube, got wind of what was happening — ”Hey, there’s this girl in Holland who’s got a phenomenal voice.” And the word ”phenomenal” in front of ”voice” doesn’t come often. Usually you hear, ”She’s pretty good, but there’s this great song,” which is usually a bunch of bulls—. And so I turned on YouTube and I was literally blown away — not only by her voice, but also her ear. I love the opportunity of discovering a talent that’s so raw. And now I can just kind of sit back and help her mold herself into a superstar.

Video of the week: Who is Ron Paul, and why is he the most viewed presidential candidate on YouTube?

June 22, 2007

Rep. Ron Paul from Texas is a libertarian and a Republican presidential candidate. He voted against the authorization for the Iraq war. Surprisingly, Ron Paul appears to be the most viewed candidate on YouTube, with his videos often generating several hundred thousand views.

I haven’t done the math, but, after a quick eyeballing of stats, I think Ron Paul’s average viewership per video makes him the No.1 Most Viewed candidate. Better than Rudy Giuliani, better than John McCain, better than Hillary Clinton, better than Barack Obama, better than John Edwards. (Sure, it’s possible a handful of people could inflate the number of views on YouTube, but I have no reason to believe that’s what’s happening here. He has the most subscribers, 17,564.)

OK, popular videos on the Internet don’t necessarily mean votes (think of Ned Lamont or Snakes on a Plane), but if this guy had the political machinery and money behind him, who knows what kind of noise he would make on the Republican side. Ron Paul got a lot of national attention after he went toe-to-toe with Rudy Giuliani, who took umbrage at Paul’s suggestion that U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East had played a part in making the terrorists hate America before 9/11. Giuliani characterized Paul’s comment as saying that American policy invited the terrorist attack on 9/11. Paul did not back down to Giuliani’s interruption, though, and reiterated his point about interventionist foreign policy abroad creating blowback against America. After the debate, Paul even gave Giuliani a reading assignment to read the 9/11 Commission Report, Blowback, Imperial Hubris, and other foreign policy books. The exchange is on the video above.

[Disclaimer: This is not an endorsement of any kind.]

uTunes: The Bec and Ross show on YouTube

June 21, 2007

Two drama students in Singapore: Rebecca (“Bec,” her real name is Rebecca Louise Burch) and Rossalina (“Ross” for Rossalina Nasir). The best amateur duet I’ve heard so far on YouTube. They haven’t posted on YouTube in a while, but here are their videos. Their most popular song is this fantastic cover of Torn.

UPDATE: The more I listen to this duo, the more amazing I think they are.  Great voices, but they are controlled and never over-sing.  Some label should sign them!  (Where’s Justin Timberlake?) Here’s a moving rendition of Linger, sung with some friends before graduation, and a soft, sweet duet of Leaving on a Jet Plane. If you live in Singapore, you can see The Bec and Ross show weekly on Wednesday at a bar called “Hideout” at 31b Circular Road and other places. If you don’t live in Singapore, they say that they’ll be back posting on YouTube soon.

Is YouTube really “killing our culture,” as Andrew Keen says?

June 20, 2007

Book review: Andrew Keen has a book just out, provocatively titled, “The Cult of the Amateur: How Today’s Internet Is Killing Our Culture.” In the book, Keen launches into a tirade against YouTube, Wikipedia, the entire blogosphere, and all other user-generated or “amateur” content in our Web 2.0 world. Keen’s basic thesis is this: “[D]emocratization [on the Internet], despite its lofty idealization, is undermining truth, souring civic discourse, and belittling expertise, experience, and talent. … [I]t is threatening the very future of our cultural institutions” (15). Yes, according to Keen, YouTube is a big part of the problem.

Over the next few days, I’ll be reviewing this book. Today, let me begin with two points.

1. The rhetoric in the book. It’s filled with punchy writing and clever turns of phrase. The rhetoric is often fun to read, in part because it’s so over-the-top. But I think the rhetoric ultimately undermines Keen’s own message. Keen says he wants more detailed, reasoned professional analysis. But his own book sensationalizes stories and speaks with the same kind of overgeneralizations and rantings that Keen criticizes on amateur blogs. Keen is taking a contrarian view on Web 2.0, and because his book is being mass-marketed, he’s more likely to sell books if his position is more sensationalized or extreme.

2. Is Keen himself an amateur?: Keen decries the amateur and hails the professional expert as the source of “truth” (more on truth in a later post). But what kind of expert is Keen? From his own bio, he’s a Silicon Valley entrepreneur who once was a CEO of a dot com and who now is CEO of “afterTV LLC, a firm that helps marketers optimize their brand desirability in the post-TV consumer landscape.” Oh, and, of course, Keen has his own blog.

OK, so does that make Keen an expert in democracy, freedom of the press, journalism, the entertainment industry, the music industry, intellectual property, libel law, click fraud, identity theft, and child predators–topics all covered in his book? My point is not to attack Keen’s credentials, but to question his overall argument in his book–that “amateur” productions should be kept in check because they are ruining “our culture” (more on “our culture” later). If that were the rule, his book shouldn’t have been published at all.  The people at Doubleday should have edited out any bit of material for which Keen had no expertise.

Justin Timberlake buys Esmee Denters ad on YouTube

June 20, 2007

News:  Justin Timberlake just bought a huge banner ad on YouTube for Esmee Denters.  I’ve never seen a YouTube celebrity get her own ad on YouTube, until now.


BBC interview with Chad Hurley + Steve Chen

June 20, 2007

News:  A full write-up and video can be found here.

YouTube taking over the UK … and the Internet

June 20, 2007

News: Two interesting statistics came out this week. 80% of Internet users in the UK over 15 years of age streamed video in April, with 38% of the streams coming from YouTube or Google. And, according to Ellacoya Networks, YouTube now comprises 10% of all Internet bandwidth consumption.

Apple’s new iPhone to have YouTube

June 20, 2007

News: Apple’s new iPhone, set for release on June 29, will play YouTube videos from the Internet. Apple has a very, very cool demo here. Watch it, it’s amazing.  Steve Jobs is one smart guy.  Apple also just put YouTube into Apple TV.