Thursday, October 19, 2006

"What will make the Web universal is video"

Virginia Heffernan unfortunately chose her New York TimesScreens” blog Tuesday to make what I thought were some excellent observations about YouTube’s most popular videos, and Web video overall -- and I do mean "over all."

I say unfortunately only because the NYT requires a "free" (in return for your e-mail) subscription to read, which makes linking awkward. But that's carping, isn't it? I mean, you used to have to pay 50 cents a day for the paper. And only today we see again that "Ad Sales Continue to Sag at Major Newspapers." (According to them, it's all Craig's fault.)
Now, if what she proposes is true, it’s not exactly good news around here, because as you’ve no doubt noticed I consider myself, ahem, a writer, and this could easily be seen as implying that there ain’t no big need for me or my kind in the brave new video Webworld.

But though we writers will probably still have something to do for a while yet, I think she’s right, in what reads like a loud manifesto, about where it’s mainly going.
The Breakthrough of That Dance Video, the Future of YouTube and the Wisdom of Google
NYT, October 17, 2006

"Why is an overlong mollycoddle mime dancing sketch, 'The Evolution of Dance,' YouTube’s top-viewed video?

"It’s hokey and did I say long and it’s like a chumpy cousin at a family reunion, which is to say — so I’m relenting a little — not entirely without corny charm, but far from groundbreaking or bellwether or cool or Web 2.0. ...

" 'The Evolution of Dance' has drawn more than 34 million views, nearly double the number of the runner-up, because it’s . . .

" . . . not in English. That’s all. No talking. No dialogue, no voice-over, no monologue. No language but lyrics.

"...blogs are not the form that makes the web universal. Neither are news sites, or databases, or Wikipedia, or anything else that’s restricted by language. What will make the web universal, what will turn us into one magical networked planet, what will blow our minds with how much can be said in icons and images and film — and, above all, why Google didn’t overpay for YouTube — is video.”
Just for the record, we are not at all sure about the "magical networked planet" invocation there, just so you don't think including it was an endorsement of the dream.

That's a great, swinging paragraph, and we didn't want to risk disturbing the music.

We know it's coming, to some degree or another. The question is, what type of magic will it be?