Friday, November 30

youtube, censorship and the open conversation space

Re: Egyptian anti-torture blogger says YouTube shut his account. - Boing Boing

This is a very egregious case of censorship. I've been following the censorship issue on youtube as it has happened time and time again.

These issues of censorship will inevitably happen again and again and again because Youtube has little concern in safeguarding the rights of it's users. It has an fundamental incapacity and has no economic incentive to protect it's users rights, nor the rights of copyright holders. In short, youtube is a mess.

Whether the excuse be violation of youtube's terms of service or copyright infringement the bottom line is centralized closed systems like youtube are fundamentally bad for safeguarding diverse conversation and culture.

On one hand video bloggers should know better to depend exclusively on a service like youtube. In order for the space to be diverse, dynamic and safeguard free speech it must support a diversity of hosts including completely independently hosted video blogs.

You might accuse me of tooting my own horn here, but this is not me promoting mefeedia (a pet project of mine for several years), but this is WHY I started working on mefeedia in the first place.

There must be an "open alternative" to the walled gardens like youtube. Mefeedia is approaching 30,000 video blogs and audio podcasts and they're hosted on 14,000 websites. Which include 300-350 video or audio specific hosting sites and the rest completely independently hosted endeavours. These videoblogs and podcasts reflect a quality and a diversity that is not found on youtube. This includes everything from the entire CBS nightly news (hosted by CBS), to independant endevours like Alive In Bagdad.

In a marketplace / conversation where people can host their own media or choose from a variety of competing services that marketplace can support the innovation and the diversity of the whole world and those people can safeguard their own voices from censorship.

Youtube may have had an early lead, and I bear them no ill will, but they have simply become the AOL of video. Just like AOL before it is not an ecosystem which can meet the diverse needs of a global conversation. The conversation must be decentralized, diverse, and remixable.

These means independant hosts of content, and independant places for sharing, searching and discussion of that content. It is not just about Wael Abbas' right to securely post his videos of human rights abuses, but also the right of the individual to comment and discuss them independantly of Wael Abbas's domain. The videos are the very article of discussion. As such they must not be bound to any one host or domain and to do so it to restrict and censor the scope of that conversation.

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