Google: Don’t Be Evil, But We Do Harm? (The End of YouTube?)

One of the so-called core philosophies in the way Google operates is their motto “Don’t be evil.” It was an idea adopted early on in the company’s lifespan. On top of that many of their product decisions was engendered through their “10 things” principles. As the company has grown to the mega-power over the years, it feels as though many of these guiding philosophies have been pushed to the side as the company’s focus seems to be improving their revenue, infiltrating every pocket of the earth and “focus on the shareholders” rather than the users.

Of course, one of the biggest issues at the moment is the whole YouTube/Google+ integration. Of all of Google’s properties, Others and I feel that YouTube’s quality has steadily declined over the years as the company attempts to heavily commercialize one of the world’s top web properties. Despite YouTube at its core not truly being a baseline type of social network, it has many foundations of a social network, especially in its massive user base. Because of how successful the commenting system is on YouTube as well as the large number of viewers, Google probably perceived YouTube as the natural place to forcefully integrate the Google+ social network in attempt to finally get a foothold in that market.

The response has been resoundingly negative. I think many people resent the fact that they must use yet another social network, where the company backing that network has very questionable motives in employing user information. With the large number of G+ links scattered around the web, the company has yet another mechanism that can further identify and convert people into their analytic schemes. On top of that, I feel that with the whole NSA whistleblowing, the idea of partaking in another social network shakes the way people feel about how massive corporations use their data for other purposes.

If anything though, the interface for YouTube has progressively just gotten worse over time. I hear from numerous YouTube content creators that YouTube’s constantly shifting interface and confusing layouts have cost them numerous potential views for their videos.  In fact, there’s a rather scathing video describing some very obvious issues with the latest interface:

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The fact that a large number of traditional YouTuber and upcoming YouTubers now must deal with this interface issue just highlights one of the main deficits about YouTube. Another massive issue is that YouTube slowly is becoming this system that feeds you a lot of nonsense that most people don’t care about. While there are ways to get around this limitation, to the average user who might just want to view all of their latest subscriptions, this might not necessarily be the case. Once again here many YouTubers have the potential to lose out on views as a result of this auto-feed system that resembles a crappier version of Facebook’s shitty newsfeed.

More than that though, I think as YouTube becomes more commercialized with their integration in more traditional and popular media outlets, garage band style YouTubers end up not having a chance without some luck in being discovered. The search system these days is absolutely horrible because it always attempts to feed what Google/YouTube feels you want to watch as opposed to keywords. On top of that, there’s so much redundancy when you try to filter through the search that the real results you want might be buried beneath 10-20 pages. As most people know in web programming, after the first page or two, the average user gives up and leaves. So unless you’re a wizard at SEO and other dark web magics, you can easily be left undiscovered forever while more popular channels or videos hide the hard work you employ as a YouTuber.

So what does possibly imply in the long run? The main thing is that whenever a product goes south, you always have the opportunity for a competitor to spring up. YouTube’s primary resources are the financial backing and scale from Google, the large user base, sheer amount of videos it has and the increasing acceptance of commercialized videos being allowed from traditional media companies. However, what it’s lacking is the humanizing aspect that made it one of the chief go-to sites for videos on the web.

Regardless, YouTube is still just a web site at the end of the day that allows one to post a movie clip and have it shown to the world. There’s truly nothing special that cannot be replicated by most people in technology. That makes YouTube incredibly vulnerable to competitors who might offer the smaller time YouTubers a better chance for publicity. Take Livestreaming as an example. On the gaming front, you have Twitch.tv, which, at the moment, does a far better job at allowing gamers to find other gamers doing what they do best. It’s possible that other companies might pick up on this trend and either attempt to develop their own infrastructure to compete or work with a partner like a justin.tv to create their own niche market, something that YouTube will struggle against due to their sheer volume.

Nonetheless, it’s interesting seeing how one of the most successful properties coming from Google now has a massive chink in its once perceived impenetrable armor. I think a huge issue is that Google just wants to compete so badly in the social space that they’re willing to sacrifice anything to get a foothold against Facebook. Yet if YouTube is the only aspect that truly differentiates Google’s social media strategy from Facebook, they’re in a lot of danger of jamming their foot back into their mouths.

In the past, I talked about how Google lacks the foundational knowledge to compete at the social level. Their culture has always been a very traditional nerdy, anti-social, highly competitive environment. Their success has created an internal mentality of invulnerability, which is dangerous to ones survival at any time. Right now, we’re seeing this issue manifest as their designs and certain decisions are leading them towards a very gloomy path. I’ve read an article about some of the fundamental issues inside of Google’s work culture and how it’s become extremely corporate and even more arrogant if that’s possible. To me that’s the beginning of the end. Maybe Google has already hit their highest mark and slowly are in a decline without realizing it. Pockets of people might clamor around the web but it’s hard to say whether or not these cries from former (or even current) Google employees will be acknowledged by upper management. That isn’t to say that there aren’t fantastic things that Google is doing; however, they’ve strayed far from their original premise and it’s going to be a matter of time before they face some stiff competition.

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