All entries for Saturday 03 February 2007

February 03, 2007

Web 2.0 to the fore: The Davos Web 2.0 Webcast

Web 2.0 to the fore

Well I didn't know it at the time but my selling of Web 2.0 to parents and prospective media students was bang on target for 2007. It has been obvious for some months that MySpace and YouTube are the public face of significant changes in the way that the internet and ultimately the future models of the media industry for some time will start to work. The fact that there was a special section of the Davos economic forum devoted to Web 2.0 is highly significant. The webcast which can also be downloaded as a Realplayer file has some very interesting comments not least from Bill Gates. 

Second Life Intervention 

Before you click onto the Davos webcast I thought I'd just draw your attention to some serious social protest from the virtual world with a link to the real world as reported by Adam Reuters:

Pictured below: luemmel Lemmon of the WEF protest group DaDavos. (The group has a beautifully designed logo, which is displayed on his placard and can also be seen on the website.) Luemmel is talking to a guy whose name I missed, but who is perfectly dressed to fit in here among the suits.

Davos Protest Seconf Life

The Davos Webcast page on Web 2.0. There are several language version here. This is a copy of the line up:

The rapid rise of online social networks is both a social and business phenomenon, the impact of which is only beginning to be understood. The consumer-powered Web 2.0 creates innovative ways for businesses to operate and people to communicate.

  1. What is driving the emergence of virtual communities? Is the rapid rise in their valuations justified?
  2. How are companies beginning to use social networking strategies for product and market development, as well as for communication?
  • Caterina Fake, Founder, Flickr, USA
  • William H. Gates III, Chairman, Microsoft Corporation, USA
  • Chad Hurley, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, YouTube, USA
  • Mark G. Parker, President and Chief Executive Officer, Nike, USA
  • Viviane Reding, Commissioner, Information Society and Media, European Commission, Brussels


  • Dennis Kneale, Managing Editor, Forbes Magazine, USA

Viacom Versus YouTube

Relatively Old Media versus New Media: Viacom versus YouTube



Well one of the most interesting New Media stories to break at the beginning of February is the spat developing between Viacom who control MTV and Google's recently bought YouTube. Its fornt page stuff  for the Weekend Financial Times (non-virtual) and it also appears in their important Lex column and it's an important story for the BBC online business / technology columns. 

Viacom too greedy for its own good? 

Its interesting because it raises the question of whether Viacom in the longer term is shooting itself in the foot.  Viacom has demanded that YouTube remove approximately 100,000 videos which contain some of its copyrighted material from MTV videos and other easy to use clips. this is likely to intensely irritate an exponentially increasing youth community who have already rocked the mainstream music industry to the core. The youth market is primarily who music videos aim at and those are the same people who are increasingly turning to user generated content, perhaps in a post-modern style of hybridised mish-mash of images which partially use 'found objects' such as bits of music video. 

The fact of the matter is that the dramtically falling prices of technology and the rapidly growing base of people who can use these technologies represents the youth 'barbarians' battering at the gates of civilisation as Viacom shareholders know it.

The attitude which Viacom are taking is merely likely to help create a sort of repetition of Punk where the behmoths and dinosaurs of mid-seventies rock spending onanistic months producing some 'concept' album or another. The young don't mind it raw and 'in yer face' the key thing about the content is that it needs to be up to date and dynamic. The era of 'high added value' otherwise known as ripping off the consumer is rqapidly coming to an end in the pop/rock video era.  

Warners see the light 

Well if I was a pension fund manager or similar I would be reconsidering any long-term holdings in Viacom. Previously they were gatekeepers just as EMI was, now look at the latter.  Whilst the Lex column a little pompously notes that:

Among the ragbag of user-generated content uploaded to YouTube, many of the more popular video clips are from mainstream content providers. Those media groups understandably want to be paid. (Lex 03 / 02 / 07)

Lex then notes  that Warner Music, for example quickly came to a deal by arranging revenue sharing with YouTube for advertising that appeared alongside its content. Lex notes that Viacom's MTV and comedy Central both have content which is easily cut and pasteable by choosing highlights. Viacom didn't get offered the deal it wanted and has 'turned up the heat'. 

Lex notes that Viacom probably doesn't want a head to head with Google which is now exceedingly wealthy and any lawsuit is inherently unstable. Lex might have added that Google appear to be more in tune with the spirit of youth which is pervading the social networking sites. The reality is that market fragmentation means that there will be more people producing content and getting paid less. For the forseeable future it probably means that trends will come and go more quickly.

The BBC story on this quotes Google as saying:

But it added that it was "unfortunate" that Viacom would no longer be able to "benefit from YouTube's passionate audience which had helped promote many of Viacom's shows".

This is rather in accord with my point and could be interpreted as a velvet glove covering the digital fist.Viacom would be better off taking a sensible deal rather than risk having its acts being sidelined. 


These are the sort of fascinating case studies which my AS media students have to look at. (For anybody who doubts for a moment the importance of web 2.0 and social networking look at this years Davos lineup). Usually there is a question along the lines of 'Do media companies always welcome New Technologies'. Well the answer is that buying up the owners of the technology if it looks as if there is a potential market  is a good idea otherwise you risk being sidelined. Google has entered the fray of the media world making the transition from being primarily a very effective search engine into a global player. Viacom appears to be doing a Waltz whilst Google is break-dancing. In the long term they may be heading for a fall. If I had the money I'd be buying Google shares not Viacom ones!

Postscript: for more on the Google buy up of YouTube

Postscript 2:  Interview with Chad Hurley who was a founder of YouTube at the Davos World Economic Forum. Viacom shareholders please take special note :-). Here is another interview with Chad Hurley in relation to  copyrighting concerns.

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