PC Pundit Misses the Point About other people Missing the Point about YouTube

I remember reading John Dvorak in my dad's copies of PC Magazine... or was it PC Monthly...   PC somethingerother.   We got our first computer back when I was in the third grade... in 1987.  It was an IBM PS/2.

And now, he has managed to become the Web 2.0 version of Encino Man...   analyzing web services using the same guidelines that helped me, my dad, and our 20MB harddrive out almost 20 years ago.

First he rips on tagging, and now he's here to explain to us how YouTube became popular.   So let's just run down some of his points:

"Google video, in fact, looks a lot like YouTube, but never achieved this growth despite getting a big head start."

Really?  Hmm... I seem to remember YouTube being around for most of 2005.  Google Video, however, not so much.  It was actually YouTube who had the head start.  Also, is it me, or does Google Video look nothing like YouTube.  Yes, it has sortable videos, but... Where are my friends?  What about my own profile page? 

"What's not so apparent, unless you actually have tried to use the
various video sharing sites, is that nobody -- and I mean nobody --
made it easy until YouTube."

Actually, Vimeo made it pretty easy to share video long before YouTube did.  They had about a 6-9 month head start actually.  He continues on the ease-of use bandwagon:

"It's amazing that the YouTube formula for success is simply ease-of-use and convenience. A shocker, huh?"

"I'm hoping that the founders of YouTube Chad Hurley and Steve Chen
realize that they may be subtle geniuses insofar as ease-of-use is
concerned."

That would make sense if YouTube's userbase was my dad, who needs a really clean and simple UI to get the most out of web services.  But, this is the MySpace generation.  These are the kids who grew up teaching their dads (or moms, of course) how to work the VCR...  when they were eight.  They are net native and ease of use has never stopped them from using MySpace.  Is MySpace easy to use?  Its a UI disaster, but it doesn't matter, because there's joy and satisfaction in getting into the guts of your page and making it work...  and why do they want to make it work?

Because its social!  And I can do what I want with it.

Social and flexible is the reason why MySpace works.  It doesn't have to look pretty... it just has to do what I want and help me connect to others. 

From early on, YouTube focused on getting users to take their videos off of the YouTube site and pass them around, encoded in Flash.  YouTube jumped in the Flash bandwagon early...that was key.  Embed codes were prominently displayed and when each video stopped, you were prompted with opportunities to share.  It was all about the viral features.  Sure, it had to work, but viral/social/portable trumps easy UI in this day and age. 

In the same way, Photobucket has rocketed to the top of the photosharing market in a similar fashion.  Flickr could do anything Photobucket did, but embed codes are a few clicks away whereas on Photobucket, they're right smack under every photo everywhere you see them.    That's very social.  Is Photobucket easy to use?  Umm.. actually... not really.  Its UI isn't as simple, as, let's say, Ofoto or Snapfish, but this generation does not want easy UI... they don't care.  They click everywhere until they find what they want. 

YouTube videos have at times been slow, choppy, etc. but when you give people what they want and tie them together in a social network, it often takes long to shake them for reasons of performance.   

So, the next time Marketwatch or a big tech magazine wants to write an article about why YouTube works... perhaps they should just ask a 15 year old.