For most of this day I have departed from my usual posting of chapters of my book, OPML, to comment on the dispute between Viacom and YouTube over 100,000 videos that Viacom has asked YouTube to take down. My own personal video was caught up in the sweep “by mistake” as I presume were the videos of thousands of other folks.
This dispute is highly relevant to the OPML vision. The OPML vision is that users–ordinary folks–can collect, comment on, assemble and share elements of digital culture.
YouTube and its owner Google have come down firmly on the side of this vision. OPML and similar “meta languages” are ways to create folios, indexes, directories, lists and mashups of the content that is strewn across the web. Google has made the first stage of the OPML vision possible by indexing this content. Google has enabled astonishingly easy and comprehensive access to the riches of the digital landscape.
Google has found a way to fund their service from advertising, and in the process has developed a business model for working with others in the web ecosystem, others who provide the richness that is the new media landscape. And Google has increasingly found ways to enable small content producers, whether bloggers or video makers, to monetize their content. Many may question the revenue split between Google and others, but few would want Google to go away. Google has been a remarkable promoter of open public digital creativity.
Viacom and other traditional media companies have a different model. Their model is to find exceptional talent, develop that talent to the highest level, and then make the expressions of talent available for a hefty fee. Their model is to create scarcity. They invest millions in self-promotion for their stars, in order to create a taste for what only their stars can do. Then they lock down the creative production of these stars, and charge dearly for access.
The new model will not, in my view, favor Viacom and scarcity. It will create abundance beyond Google.