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.