Online videos garner large audiences

Broadband Internet has led to a proliferation of homemade media.

JP Leider

The MySpace-YouTube combination has proved tantalizing for millions of people in the United States and beyond.

MySpace.com, the now infamous networking Web site, allows users to post personalized video directly into their published content. That video can come from numerous places and among the most popular is YouTube.com.

YouTube allows users to post and share homemade videos with family, friends and millions of strangers worldwide. At the University, students are using YouTube to post everything from professional videos to residence hall high jinks.

By its most recent count, YouTube serves 100 million videos daily, and more than 65,000 are uploaded daily. Alexa, a Web-ranking service, rates YouTube as the 16th most-visited site on the Internet. Popular sites Yahoo and Google have video hosting and viewing components as well.

Andy Berndt, a freelance graphic designer and University alumnus, posted a video he took of the 2003 hockey riots and continues to publish professional videos he creates because of the amount of Web traffic.

“That’s where people are going to see the movies,” he said. “I’m using it as an avenue to show other people videos or work that I’ve done.”

Berndt said he expects online video services will change the way people view television and other media.

“The idea of on-demand anything is blowing up, and the sharing aspect has blown up as well,” he said.

Video hosting services such as YouTube.com and Veoh.com already have begun partnering with major networks to deliver traditionally over-the-air content online.

Yegor Simpson, webmaster of entertainment site Planetboredom.net, said the prevalence of video-hosting sites can be attributed to the increasing number of homes with broadband Internet service.

Simpson said he sees two futures for video hosting. The first is one in which technology improves and broadband and hosting costs decrease, paving the way for higher-quality video.

The other possibility, Simpson said, is that copyright laws and lawsuits kill off the industry.

Currently, he has no problem hosting short clips of television shows as long as the entire episode isn’t available, he said, although that might change.

YouTube is embroiled in a copyright war affecting the industry. Although YouTube’s members post the content, some still claim YouTube is responsible for inappropriate use of copyrighted material.

YouTube at the U

Alex Brown, a studies in cinema and media culture junior, said he was fed up with the content he saw on YouTube and decided to post his own comedy shorts.

“Most of the stuff is just lip-syncing to the camera over some bad song or some semi-attractive girl talking about her life – that’s the most popular stuff on the site,” he said. “We actually put some time and thought into ours.”

Brown’s series, titled “Red Alert Productions,” also has formed a following on Facebook.com. Brown said he plans on creating new content.

Even as major movie studios and networks are seeing video-hosting sites as new marketing territory, academia too has found its way into the video community.

But in the case of Tom Holmes, a University professor of economics, it wasn’t by choice.

Holmes’ video, “The Diffusion of Wal-Mart and the Economies of Density,” was co-opted by a YouTube user and posted online.

Holmes said he has no issue with the video post, as his work is referenced.

“I’m happy to see my work disseminated like that,” he said.

Since it was posted two months ago, the video has been viewed more than 20,000 times.

Holmes said his video being posted on YouTube struck him as odd, because the site mostly hosts “funny home videos.”

“When I heard about it, I did a search on Wal-Mart, and (the results are) kids’ high jinks in Wal-Mart bathrooms, and then there’s this academic piece,” he said. “It seemed kind of out of place; I didn’t even understand how people could find it.”

While Holmes said he is “very intrigued by the whole process,” he has no plans for publishing his academic work on YouTube.