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Colin Devroe

Reverse Engineer. Blogger.

YouTube has replaced TV for me (and, how to use the Watch Later playlist)

I’ve been watching a lot of YouTube lately. More specifically, I’ve been watching a lot of YouTube on my TV lately. Here is how I do it but first, a bit of background on my personal YouTube habits.

For the first few years of YouTube the only videos that I would see were the viral or massively popular ones. Unless someone sent me a link directly to a YouTube video I probably wouldn’t have seen it. Then, a few years into YouTube’s massive growth, it seemed as though the utility of its video library exploded. I could search just about anything and find what I needed to know. Things like how to cook hard boiled eggs or how to properly brew my coffee using a Chemex or how to fix some random household item. Even incredibly obscure things that you’d never think you’d get a result for ended up popping up. Entire days worth of video were uploaded every minute and I’m sure that continues today. A few years later, out of the ooze of that same library, came personalities and talking heads and people putting seriously well-made films on YouTube. That’s when I started to dabble in subscribing to some channels.

But it didn’t stick.

Every person with a modern computer had a camera facing them all day and so some of them used that camera to record themselves talking about various topics. Every single day. But, for me, talking heads are boring. And while some of these YouTube personalities tried different editing techniques to make their discussions somewhat entertaining, I grew tired of them and so YouTube didn’t stick with my daily watching habits. The videos were yet good enough to replace my TV habits and the rest of what was on TV was taken off of YouTube since the major networks still didn’t have accounts.

Then vlogging came along. And vloggers, like the talking heads on YouTube, made videos about their day each and every day. Except, these people went outside and explored and did interesting things. They just happened to record themselves while they were doing it. As someone who was a pioneer in MeToday photos on Flickr and videos on Viddler (where I used to be employed) I really liked this type of content. And, as time has progressed so have the tools. Now, instead of people being limited to recording videos in front of their laptops, they can fly cameras above cities and mountains have stabilized handheld cameras that shoot video in 4K. So now these videos are amazing.

Watch a few of Ben Brown or Casey Neistat’s (who is about to burst past 5M subscribers this week) videos and you’ll see a quality of video that wasn’t even available to commercial videographers just a decade ago. Now anyone can make these types of videos if they learn the software.

Having a YouTube account allows you to upload videos. But it also lets you subscribe to as many channels as you’d like. Effectively building an interest graph for the types of videos you’d like to watch. Far better than TV even with a DVR. Brand-new content is available daily and you can watch any of it whenever you want on any device. My TV, Blu-ray player, Apple TV, mobile phone, tablet, and computer all have excellent YouTube apps on them. I can literally watch YouTube from anywhere and cable TV has yet to figure that out.

A neat feature that you may have overlooked is YouTube’s “watch later” playlist. You can build your own playlists for anything if you’d like, just like a music playlist. But YouTube gives you one that is private by default and you can’t delete it called “Watch Later” and this playlist is available on all of these same devices. So if you see a video you’d like to watch on your TV but you’re on your phone… you can just hit “watch later”. It works fantastically and I use it every single day. In fact, I’m subscribed to enough channels that I cannot watch every video that is published so I pick-and-choose and add videos to my watch later playlist using my phone and then watch them all on my TV.

Best of all, at least so far, is that my TV doesn’t show any YouTube ads. Not one. So I’ve been watching hundreds and hundreds of hours of video that I’m interested in without ever seeing an ad.

If you know of any channels I should be subscribed to please email me.

Wait, so Verizon is going to own Flickr? The Yahoo! weather and sports APIs? Yahoo! Mail (which I hear some like). Oh boy.

Flickr Premium?

Danny Nicolas has been keeping up with my Flickr commentary of late about how Flickr should create a more affordable, less feature-rich account type and he has a few things to add:

I feel as if most people currently paying for Flickr Pro don’t take advantage of all the features offered. I might even go in the other direction and have the current Flickr Pro offering become the mid-size account, and offer a more expensive Business account that doesn’t have file size or video limitations.

My main argument for why I think Flickr should make a scaled-down account is more about price than about features. I was a paying Flickr Pro user for many years, as was my wife, and we never utilized the account to the full. Though I’m sure more serious photographers do. However, in today’s market of mobile apps and the services that power them, most people will not pay $24 a year to share photos with their friends. And I don’t think the Instagram generation needs Flickr Pro. But I do think they’d pay enough to make it worth Flickr’s while to create a more affordable account with less features.

Creating a Premium account is an interesting idea and is always on the table for SaaS platforms. But I don’t think that is the right strategy for Flickr. I doubt there are many members that are pining for more features or space or video capabilities. They can go elsewhere for video. I believe there is a goldmine of brand new users that are dabbling with Instagram – to the tune of tens of millions perhaps – that would love a few extra features that Instagram simply does not provide (stats, groups, sets, etc.) and all Flickr has to do is price the account just right, and market it properly, in order to suck them all in.

Again, Danny:

Whatever their strategy for success may be, Flickr must evade further stagnation in order to be competitive. They can’t ignore and leave new markets wide open like they did with mobile. They have the opportunity to become a powerful weapon in the hands of Yahoo.

It is amazing to me that so many people see Instagram as Flickr’s failing. But it is obvious. The people that were the innovators in photo sharing missed the boat. I think the problem is that Flickr became a business very quickly after joining Yahoo! It went from being an innovative product that was really trying to solve problems to a business that needed to make money and innovation sort of was pushed to the side. And the fact that we didn’t hear anything from Flickr for years was mind-boggling. I have no idea what they’ve been doing for the last few years.

Danny nailed it when he mentioned cannibalization. Some of the things Flickr should have done over the last several years were no doubt thought of and even sketched out but perhaps decided against for that very reason. They didn’t want to lose current customers. But they may have to do just that in order to grow again.

Yahoo! needs to invest in Flickr. They need to let the team know they can take chances again. They can try and fail and try again. They need resources, talent, and a someone with a clear vision to run the entire thing.

If Marisa runs Flickr like she ran search at Google Flickr will succeed. If she runs it the way Google , Buzz, and Wave was run she won’t. And there is a subtle difference between the two approaches. Google , Buzz, and Wave were innovations, no doubt, but without any real value or use case that was obvious. I remember trying Wave for the first time and having no idea what it was for. The products were perhaps a little too innovative. Instagram isn’t so much an innovation as it a well-designed simple solution that brings delight to people every day. Google search is a well-designed (seemingly) simple solution that brings an amazing amount of value to people every day. Flickr should aim for one of those; delight or value. I’d pick delight.

My island on this ocean

Me, over four years ago:

As it stands I post what I’m currently doing to Twitter, I am testing out Pownce with mobile blogging, events, links, and files, I post mobile phone photos to Flickr (as well as the occasional screenshot), videos go on Viddler, bookmarks end up on Ma.gnolia, tasting notes end up on Cork’d, and my thoughts on Appleproducts find their way toTUG.n.

What a difference four years can make! Pownce, Ma.gnolia, Cork’d, TUG.n, all gone. Flickr rarely gets my attention. Twitter is still here but is changing policies more often than I change my shirt. Viddler, I’m very proud to say, is stronger than ever but is certainly a much different service than it was then.

The Internet is like the open ocean and what we publish seems to be on a life raft simply going along for the ride.Yet our personal websites seem to be like small islands in this ocean. Sure, their beaches may change from time-to-time but the island remains – like a beacon to all travelers that we’re still here – somewhere to always come back to as these rafts take on water and eventually sink into the deep.

This environment forces me to rethink, yet again, how and where I publish on the web. This internal debate seems to be one that keeps coming up, over and over, year after year, as the ocean of the Internet ebbs and flows.

Should I simply post everything that I publish directly to this site and nowhere else? Do I cross post things to this site and also onto other services? Do I simply link back to this site from those services? Do I syndicate to those services with their own accounts (like I do now on Twitter and Facebook for this site)? Do I post some content here and some content elsewhere?

Believe it or not, and you may think I’m crazy, but these questions plague me all of the time. I constantly struggle with this. And I never seem to muster the conviction to make a hard choice and so I’ve got content everywhere; Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, the brand-new App.net, Flickr, a little on Google , and so on.

Why does it take conviction to limit myself to only posting on this site? Because there is a pull and a need to share this content with as many people as possible. With nearly 2,000 followers on Twitter, a few hundred on Instagram, friends and family on Flickr, etc. it is hard to limit the exposure of this content. I want people to see what I’m publishing. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t. This site, as it stands, only has a relatively small audience. Some of my posts get views in the single digits, others, in the hundreds of thousands. So I can never really be sure how many people are paying attention. That is why it takes conviction. I have to be OK with the fact that maybe, just maybe, no one will notice. And maybe, just maybe, no one will care.

I think I’ve gotten to that point. Even as I write this I’m coming around to the idea that I don’t really need anyone to read this post. And if they do read it I’d much rather them read it here than on Facebook or Google . Whether or not I choose to publish here on my site or elsewhere doesn’t really matter at all to anyone but me. And I want to publish to my site. So I should publish in a way that makes me happy, right?

There is an upside to making this a hard, line-in-the-sand choice. If anything I post is shared around the web it will point back to my website. My island. Some have built up enormous followings on Twitter and Instagram. What happens when they go away or change? I’d much rather people remember me for my website than for my Instagram stream.

So what does this mean? Well, I’ve thought about it. And I’m still going to tweet. Though probably far less. Twenty-five thousand plus tweets so far and counting. My entire family and most of my close friends are on Twitter. And, using Twitter Lists, I’m able to get a lot of value from this service. Far more than any other. However, I’m done with Facebook, Google , Flickr, ADN and Instagram (even though I love Instagram). Everything that I publish is going to be on this site. Follow, don’t follow, it is up to you.

Do you deal with this struggle? I’d love to read about how you’re dealing with it on Hacker News.

Some have asked if they’ll be able to stay subscribed to this site via Twitter and Facebook. Yes, you will. As long as their policies allow for it. And also RSS if you’re a nerd like me.

365 photos by Marisa McClellan

Marisa McClellan is shooting a photo per-day and posting it to her blog (and Flickr account if you’d prefer). Most of her photos are fairly drool worthy but the above tips the scales (you know, because of the cast iron).

She’s up to 38 or so. I’ll be watching every single one.

Other projects like this exist on Flickr too such as the 365 days group and Project 365.

The Web 2.0 Expo experience

When I first found out that the entire Viddler team would be going to San Francisco for the Web 2.0 Expo – I wasn’t sure of what to expect from the Expo. Would it be a social (tshirt and jeans) or more a professional (suit and tie) type of conference? And really, it turned out to be a little bit of both.

The Expo

moscone_expo
The Web 2.0 Expo Floor

The expo floor was filled with companies of all types ranging from large companies like Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft to smaller more fun companies like Viddler, Zimki, and Piczo. Some people were being very professional and demonstrating some very high-level enterprise applications (which are typically found behind-the-scenes of more social software. ie. Analytics and monitoring systems for server grids). Others were demonstrating their next-generation web service that can take care of all your development needs from coding, to versioning, to deployment all in a social and collaborative way. Each had their pitch, each had something very interesting to offer, and each were trying to make their product/service stand out from the pack.

The sessions that I got to see (which weren’t many since I didn’t have a session pass so I had to sneak into any of the rooms by tossing Hershey Kisses on the floor in front of the badge-checker on the way in) were much more “professional” than the panels I got to see when I was at South by Southwest this year. This isn’t to say that those panels at SXSW were not done in a professional manner, but that the sessions at the Web 2.0 Expo were much less interactive and more a demonstration of some products/services/companies that stood out as doing good work in their various fields.

Web2Open

Chris Messina discusses hAtomic

The Web2Open Mashroom

Running adjacent to the Web 2.0 Expo keynotes and sessions was Web2Open which is a *Camp style event that run in the main corridors on the second floor. Various presentations and discussions given by people that attended and participated in Web2Open were very good. “Minutes” were taken by various people and left on the walls so that if you came late to a particular discussion, you were able to quickly catch up and be part of the conversation. If you didn’t like where the discussion was going you were able to change the topic yourself by suggesting a topic, or – you could literally get up and go into another room where maybe the topic suited you a little better.

The idea of doing Open conferences like this is still very much in beta – and the process is being refined by the attendees each and every time one of these events goes on – but they are definitely much more attractive than any other event that I’ve been to. Simply being able to steer the conversation by simply raising your hand and asking a question lends itself very well to building value for those that attend.

The Viddler team and version 2.0

Viddler had a massive push to finish Q&A and testing on the its latest version of the site and player and managed to fit in many hours of development in order to release version 2.0. There are still a few bugs being worked out as soon as the developers and managers get back home from this trip – but overall the release was a big success and was fairly well received. The roadmap for Viddler is still quite exciting and the entire team is looking forward to the next step. I’ll have some more information about this and will be asking for everyone’s feedback on some of our ideas shortly.

saratoga_cake

We celebrated version 2.0 a little bit early with some champagne and cake. The entire team was staying in Saratoga at our President’s relative’s house. We were so well taken care of that none of us wanted to leave (freshly squeezed orange juice right off the tree every morning makes a man wanna stick around).

Meeting the entire team for the first time was awesome. Working remotely with our team is really great and is actually conducive to getting very good work accomplished without the added expense and overhead of having everyone move to one location and setting up the proper digs for such an effort. However, it was nice to finally spend some time together to get to know each other even better and fit a real personality to the people that I have the privilege of working with everyday.

Harry and I got to work on our commercial together, which has caused a little bit of a stir with some members – which is always good to know that our users are reading our terms of use. We’re looking forward to updating our terms of use to fit more inline with what we really want to be able to do — promote really good video content and display it in an interactive and valuable way.

The Web 2 Party

The moment I got a feel for who was going to be at the Web 2 Expo; namely my friends from Citizen Agency, Ma.gnolia, etc. – I decided I really wanted to have a party with a few companies to help fit the bill to really pull off something nice. I mentioned this to Larry Halff and Chris Messina and I must say – they really took the ball and ran with it especially considering my inexperience in putting something like this together combined with the fact that I’m on the east coast far away from finding out about all of the venues that were available.

Tara (unknown last name) (aka Tara 2.0) came through in a very big way and secured our venue and setup everything we needed go pull off a successful event. Having an “event planner” is really key when you are trying to do one of these events with multiple companies and tons of logistics involved. If you are thinking of doing something like we did – I definitely recommend assigning one experienced person to get everything setup properly.

varnish_party
The party attendees

The party, in my opinion, was a huge success and it seemed like everyone had a really great time. People were lined up outside to get in, we were “at capacity” for the entire duration of the party, and people had to be escorted out of the gallery when the place closed. I had been to a few events at South by Southwest where people leaved early, the bar tab ran out quickly, or where generally not many people showed up. Such was not the scene for the Web 2 Party and we had a great time meeting everyone who came, shooting some video, and had some great discussions.

We’ve been talking about doing something in New York in the Fall so be sure to keep your ear to the ground. We don’t want to let all the west coast peeps have all the fun!

I know I’m speaking for the entire Viddler team when I say that w
e’d like to thank Citizen Agency for helping to coordinate the entire event, and thanks to Ma.gnolia, Scrapblog, JanRain, faberNovel, Facebook, Plasq, and WineLibraryTVfor helping us in throwing the best party during the Web 2.0 Expo. We hope you had as much fun as we all did.

The photos

Here is just a small collection of photos that I took over the course of the week. I didn’t have a lot of time to shoot many photos as I always seemed to be busy recording video, talking at our booth, chatting with friends or just generally preoccupied with other things. I recommend you look at the Viddler Group on Flickr for more photos (oh, if you have photos please put them in the Viddler group) and also watch the Viddler tag on Viddler to see any video that may pop up over the next few days from the Expo.

santaclara_viddler2
Version 2.0 development

Chris Tingom
Chris Tingom

saratoga_house
Viddler Palace

saratoga_lucaszkasper
Lucasz and Kasper

saratoga_oranges
Oranges from Saratoga

saratoga_breakfast
Breakfast meeting

moscone_booth
Viddler booth

Blake Burris
Blake Burris and I

D. Keith Robinson at Varnish

Crazy Keith

Dustin Diaz at Varnish
“Naked” Dustin

Gina Bolton at Varnish
Joyful Jina

The Viddler gang at Ritual Coffee Roasters
The Viddler gang at Ritual Coffee Roasters

Harry Snodgrass
Firecracker Harry

Again I wish that I had more time to take more photos than I did but I’m thankful that friends like Chris Tingom were able to take a bunch of photos during our trip.

So the next time you hear that Viddler is coming to your town or throwing a party in your neighborhood – be sure to give us a shout and come out and drink some of our beerz…

Hobby projects

I always like to have at least one or two hobby projects going. All work and no play makes Colin a dull boy you know. Sometimes I’m ready to start up brand new projects, stuff I haven’t done before or whatever. This time, however, I’m thinking about redoing something I’ve already done.

(Image missing)

I’m considering scratching the entire codebase and starting fresh. This won’t happen for at least a few weeks, but I’m trying to plan ahead. Who knows what will happen.

FlickIt 2.1 is available as a free download, the above screenshot is of an as-yet unreleased version 2.5.