See what I did there? I managed to shoe-horn an old viral video into the title of my blog post. Three cheers for me. But actually, my lame sense of humour has turned out to be serendipitous in this case. Psy’s monstrously-popular hit is the last proper ‘viral’ video I laid eyes upon.
Here’s why. YouTube has taken away one of its best buttons. ‘Browse’ (see the screenshot below). I’m a heavy YouTube user; I subscribe to over 200 channels. You might say I was stuck in my ways, but how wrong you are. As part of my life as a wannabe journalist, student radio presenter and human, I need to make sure I’m fully-aware of what’s going on in the world of online video. YouTube used to do a reasonably good job of keeping track of trending videos and the best way to find out what was doing well on any given day was to click on the ‘browse’ button.
There is now a wall between the content I like and the content I might like.
The new equivalent of this button is a very presumptuous button called ‘What to watch’. All this seems to feature is stuff I already subscribe to, plus some of the stuff that the people who I subscribe to have recommended/commented on.
This is part of a shift in values that YouTube has been enacting of late. It’s trying to get into bed with Google+. The first time I noticed this was when YouTube gave me the option to change my 2006, 15 year-old username to my ever-relevant real name. For a while, I held off on this because I didn’t know if I wanted ‘internet weirdos’ finding my comments on popular videos and tracking me down and murdering me. Then I realised I was acting like an idiot and gave in.
Anyway, back to the point. YouTube is trying to force upon me the belief that the people I subscribe to are my ‘friends’ and that they should curate content for me. Sure, perhaps this sometimes works but, quite frankly, numbers don’t lie. I don’t care if the latest YouTube sensation is a video of a pile of faeces riding a skateboard: I want to see it and I want to talk about it with my friends both online and offline.
Right now, YouTube is preventing me from seeing the next extreme sports turd and I resent it for that. YouTube, give me everything, warts (and faecal matter) and all.
Note – I’m aware that there are workarounds which could still allow me to see the day’s most popular content. But I don’t care. I hate that I have to use them.