Thursday, March 8, 2012

Packed Like Lemmings Into Shiny Metal Boxes

Pardon me for a moment--I don't usually post about YouTube twice in a row, but it seems appropriate today, for I have mandatorily succumbed to the new channel design.

I'll concede that my channel needed a bit of a change. I was aiming for a new background as soon as I got started on Mega Man 7, but a total overhaul isn't so bad. It's streamlined. My sidebar is cleaner, and it's easier to link to here, GameCola, my Facebook page, etc. My playlists look nice all organized below the featured video on the front page of my channel. Overall, I like it.

Assuming all I'm going to do is look at it.

As a channel administrator, it's a bit of a nightmare. I receive an appreciable volume of channel comments on a weekly basis--it's now two clicks to the comments instead of none; I can't separate my responses to different people with line spaces in a single comment (it's all one big, ugly paragraph, or a separate. Comment. For. Each. Person.); and the decision to treat comments as part of a news feed just gives me that much more to read and scroll through before I get to any real content. Yuck.

That's one big thing I've noticed about the redesign: YouTube channels are suddenly more about social interactions than content, as though having friends is a replacement for having something to do with friends. Two of the three channel design templates focus on everything but your videos, and while I can understand where someone might want to use their channel primarily to promote other people's channels, the available options all translate to me as various degrees of obscuring my content.

I'm also not a fan that uploaded videos are the first thing you see by default under the Videos tab. My channel is set up such that videos are really meant to be grouped into series rather than appearing independently. Once again, two clicks instead of none or one. Granted, I have my playlists all on the front page, but there'll come a time when it'll be too much to keep them all there...and right now, I can't organize any of the playlists on the Videos tab, either, unless it has to do with chronological order (which isn't necessarily what I want).

I will admit that customizing the channel was fun. I spent the better part of my lunch break tinkering with options, and I enjoyed sneaking in an in-joke or two (which are only there for my own amusement, but so much the better if anyone else notices them). Helps to take my mind off my metropolis anxiety--though that's also being alleviated by having some time to record more commentary this week.

Because it's likely going to be a hassle to respond to channel comments anymore, I'm considering alternatives, such as nudging discussions into a fan forum or creating a filler video with the sole purpose of being the preferred place to leave general comments. I'm willing to give the new format a chance, but a part of me really wants to be a clever rebel.

I keep saying this about innovations: I don't mind new ideas, so long as I still have the option to stick with older ideas that are still equally valid. Circumventing the system even to a slight degree is my way of objecting to the technological dictatorships I keep seeing. I dig that YouTube accepted user feedback during the design phase, and I'm grateful for every option and improvement we do have. I'm resistant to this apparent obsession with stuffing content into picture boxes so hard that a little bit of text leaks out over the edge.

I like my lists and menus. I like being able to identify exactly what I'm clicking on by reading rather than guessing at symbols or squinting at the incidental descriptions below the pictures. I'm a visual learner, but I don't process information as well in the format the universe seems to be adopting, and I can think of more than a few people who also object to the rapid and often drastic changes sweeping the technology landscape.

The Next Big Thing had better not get too big for its britches--technology is meant to serve the people, and not the other way around. Otherwise, when Skynet arrives, it won't be because our technology has become self-aware--it'll be because the designers left out the option to not be hunted down by Terminators.


CuntrySongAndMegaman said...

I do agree that YouTube could do better with the fact that videos are no longer the main focus. I never made a Twitter, closed my Facebook, and don't want this site to turn into social networking. Also, YouTube actually FORGOT to turn off the "switch back to old design" button or turn off the old design at all! In fact, I switched my channel back! =D

CuntrySongAndMegaman said...

Uuuuhhh..... Nevermind about switching back. I got forced. =(