When youtube first came out, and for a couple of years after, it was truly amazing. Any video you could think of was probably on there. As time goes on, we're seeing the functionality of the site go down and the annoyances going up. I'm not taking sides on the issue because I know there's a consumer perspective and a corporate perspective; and I am intellectually sympathetic to both (albeit, as a user, my bias is more towards the consumer.) So I'm just venting...
As with anything in the web now, and seemingly in life, all progress is leading towards mediocrity and chaos. Any little convenience and source of pleasure seems to eventually get squashed (whether or not the reasons are valid). I used to love the youtube channel views, where there was a grid of ALL the user's videos and you can watch them one by one, or browse them very easily. Last year they changed the layout to be more restrictive; just a scrolling sidebar of videos, with very limited space. Even the video titles don't fit most of the time. It went from being a very easy to navigate and browse layout, to a frustrating layout that seems more like Myspace. The "Recent Activity" area is now significantly larger than the area for the user's videos. Make sense? of course not. When we go on youtube, we are PRIMARILY there to watch videos, not for social whatever you call that facebook stuff.
So I ask myself, why? These changes are largely ignored by most users, or they get frustrated and deal with it. But to me, it poses an interesting question. Why would they do that? it has to do with business, there's no other reason. The layouts were not changed on a whim, or accidentally. Whoever was in charge of that wasn't just "trying something" to see if people liked it. There are money reasons behind it.
So here's my crazy conspiracy theory. Youtube is so big that they suck up a lot of bandwidth. youtube accounts for a very large percentage of traffic for any ISP. Most of the videos are copyright-illegal, of course. This is youtube's fundamental problem: in a free for all video site, most of the content is going to be infringing on copyrights. This is a problem. of course, in the beginning, youtube ignored copyright issues or cleverly avoided them through some means. This time allowed the site to get huge, primarily off of the back of infringing videos. Once they got huge, their new problem was addressing the Big Boy Corporation issues. The ISP's are angry that youtube benefits from all this traffic, yet the ISP front most of the cost. The media companies are angry that youtube is benefitting off of their copyrighted material.
As youtube has to deal with these issues, the consumer experience will suffer, and it has tremendously. We all know that youtube is not so easy or pleasant to use anymore. i avoid it almost completely, whereas before I would regularly get sucked into a 2-3 hour vortex of watching videos (you know what I'm talking about!). But now it takes FOREVER to load a video now. I don't know if it's my ISP or youtube, but it makes watching videos so annoying that it's not even worth it. next, copyright issues have taken their toll on youtube. A lot of the really great content is not there anymore, or it's near impossible to find. I know for a fact of large private collections of videos that are really amazing, but you can't search for them, so it's just not like it was before.
The quality of the videos are pretty poor also. yet another measure to limit bandwidth. All these things are tied to money: copyrights and bandwidth. Entertainment industry & Communication industry vs. the consumers. Those are the two biggest titans in the world today teaming up against the consumer. There is no way for the consumer to win that battle in any way.
In the end, youtube is just not that fun to use anymore. Just like google used to be awesome, and now it's like finding a needle in the haystack. It seems to be the prevailing pattern in all of history: when things get too big, the irony kicks in and events just start sort of backfiring on each other. Youtube got big because they offered centrally accessible videos to everyone in the world...conveneint and free. This popularity made them the biggest thing in the world. But it got too big. Everyone wanted their share. Pass the buck, take your cut. By the way, that's how our global financial system works as well.
But for us consumers, we are left with a youtube that is now mediocre and chaotic. And that's what happens when you get too big. To satisfy more and more people, you have to make everything mediocre...pop, in essense. The truly great things in life are great because they are close to the polar ends, and not towards the neutral middle. The edges of the bell curve hold the great things in life...as well as the worst things. But it has to be that way. Things in the middle, they're just...ok. It does the job. it's not impressive, or particularly interesting. It's just...meh.