October 25th, 2008

Sailor Steeler

In Praise of YouTube

Part of the reason why I have been in a good mood as of late is because I love YouTube, and I think with YouTube, I have finally found something to make me happy on a long-term basis.

You see with every other movement, fad, or creative method, I have always found the work I put into it always far more than the enjoyment I get out of it. I love to write, but it is literally harder for me to write 100 words that I can be satisfied with than to edit ten seconds of video. I love editing sprites, but it can take hours and days to arrange the pixels in a fashion that I feel is satisfactory, versus a few minutes to express the same feelings with video. And in turn, since I'm not doing professional quality video work or competing with people on an artistic level, I can simply post something and have that express me, my ideas, and my obsessions more effectively than an 80,000 word rant.

Yet is is not only the video format that I like, but model that YouTube uses which propels it to the top, YTMND is open, and it still has its uses, but it has drifted so far from its original constraint of image + text + singular focus that I dropped out of keeping up with the latest fads years ago. Newgrounds came close to perfection when it came to a formula for user participation, as it offered me the ability to be an active watcher, something that YouTube has yet to recreate. And one day, I hope to go back to Newgrounds. But YouTube allows me to be a part of the experience of creating without the filter or narrow artistic criticism that would force me into being a Newgrounds reviewer rather than a Flash artist.

With YouTube, I can upload something and it's either accepted, rejected, or ignored. Altough I would like to see my videos viewed, if only three people view a video, then it's okay. All it means that it's less likely for people to target me as was done to Zekelonewalker. Don't get me wrong. There are plenty of times I am ultimately dissatisfied with a video, and there are also plenty of video ideas that I have flirted with but never pursued. But unlike a lot of my abandoned projects, they don't ache, beg, and fill me with pain as punishment for not finishing them. I actually get more pleasure out of posting a video clip of gameplay than finishing a story, working with pixels, or engaging in some other activity. All I have to do is crop it or play with the sound. Thus, if I'm disappointed in something, it's because I know its because I just didn't work at it enough, and I know that I'm not pushing the format to its limit (and video is limited).

In the end, between Viacom's suit and the troublesome nature of depending on a service for happiness, I know this can't last. One day, all my videos may be taken down and my account deleted. But for now, I have found a niche, something where the reward is proportional to the amount of work I put in. YouTube, as flawed as it is, is as close to a meritocracy as it gets.