Indian Express: Where’s the you in YouTube?


by Jen Carswell

Taking a page from the worldwide web, the supremely popular video-sharing site YouTube has also decided to transform into a glitzier 2.0 version. Current users have the option of changing to a more aesthetic and participative page layout—but soon the switch will be mandatory. However the initial overhaul date has been delayed by weeks, perhaps months, because of still unsolved glitches. But forums and comment spaces are buzzing with unhappy YouTubers, fingers angrily expressing their distaste for the updated version. So, why all the fuss?

First things first: the new look. With a sleeker, sexier design—rounded edges, warmer colours—the user’s posted videos fill the screen, with the latest video in the main player. Underneath, organisable boxes house other features like friends, subscriptions and recent activity. At first glance, the new site seems more professional, with a less basement, messing-around-with-your-mates vibe.

But many YouTube fanatics are not at all impressed by the revamp. The YouTube blog, created specifically for the switch, is alight with negative comments. Japanlover97 says “I don’t care how many bugs there are, or when they’ll be fixed. Why “fix” something that isn’t broken?” User Selif adds, “The new one is over-bloated with flash and is a pain to work with. I like the channel design just fine without changing.” On Twitter, FattLip is “so happy the switchover to Beta is delayed, there are a lot of problems with it! Please reconsider forcing everyone to switch”.

Surfing from his desktop in Andheri, Anish Chatterjee uses YouTube, like most of us, to find funny clips and movie trailers. So he doesn’t spend a lot of time on his personal homepage. “I think the version’s nice,” he e-messages, adding “it doesn’t really make a difference to me, since I’m the kind of user who goes straight to the search bar anyway.”

Asfaq Tapia, a 25-year-old techie who uses YouTube nearly everyday, doesn’t understand why people don’t like the new look. “I like the new design, there are more options to view videos and it’s easier to navigate.”

The majority of unhappy commentators simply want an option: to update or not to update. But despite YouTube’s usual freedom of expression, it is, after all, not a democracy.

The reasons behind the change are to allow a more customised look for users, to allow them to navigate more easily and to beef up security. Most importantly, all corners have been rounded, which will save on costly pixels. A lighter running model would allow YouTube to cut down operating costs—a measure that the Google-owned site desperately needs.

Internet giant Google refuses to give specific numbers, but estimates run anywhere from $100 million to $400 million. Twenty minutes of video are uploaded every minute and traditional advertising barely dents the website’s perennial deficit.

“When Facebook changed its look, it faced the same kind of backlash,” explains Aditya Nag, a senior analyst at PC World India. He is quick to point out that the YouTube ‘blackout’, asking users not to log on to the site for 24 hours on July 14, failed to gain substantial momentum. With few constructive comments, understanding the discontentment is difficult. “In a month, everyone will be used to the new look and will have forgotten about the whole controversy,” adds Nag.

j j j Interview


by Ashwin Murli

Asfaq Tapia

Asfaq Tapia has been a prolific blogger and online junkie way before India had heard the term ‘twitter’. As one of the most popular Indian tweeters Asfaq has ingeniously managed to transcend his passion for technology into a livelihood. Other than being a Communications Manager for Pinstorm Asfaq plays a key role in popularising the Indian online industry to the world. Here is your chance to know what’s on his mind (and plate) these days!

You are one of the most famed Twitter personalities. How did it happen?

Damn! You make me sound like a star of sorts! Thank you! I like to believe I got the ‘early adopter’ advantage with Twitter. Back when I joined the service there were hardly any Indians on there. While Twitter is all about engaging in multiple con-current conversations today, back then, it was like a big IRC chat room in slow motion with around 15-20 users in it.

I am a geek and early adopter at heart. I love signing up to and using all software and services when they are in beta or alpha. That’s how I managed to be on Twitter. Once you get beyond the ‘I don’t see the point of this’ feeling, it becomes addictive.

Twitter has become an instrumental business tool. How effectively have Indian businesses and entrepreneurs used Twitter to their benefit?

Indian business are slowly starting to wake up to the entire Social Media phenomena – which is a good thing. However, they tend to use ‘networks’ like Twitter in isolation and believe that by doing so, they have a Social Media presence

Take the case of Kingfisher Airlines. What is their Social Media presence? In my humble opinion, they have some way to go. Creating a fan page on FaceBook (which happened a year ago) is of no relevance if you don’t engage with your users. They received a lot of press for their Twitter id, but really, its the same depressing story ( there too.

The ones who are doing it really well are SlideShare and MTV India (on FaceBook too). They talk about themselves, engage with the community, follow those who follow them and encourage users to create buzz for them online.

During the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, we at Pinstorm, used Twitter to spread important information about our blog that contained hospital and emergency service phone numbers and information related to the attacks. We later used it to help raise 33 lakhs to rehabilitate those affected by the tragedy. We also use Twitter to engage with the community and spread information about Pinstorm related news and events.

Tell us about your role at Pinstorm

As a Communications Manager, I am in-charge of all official communication for Pinstorm, apart from ensuring our presence at key industry events and conferences. This role also extends to being the ‘Online Evangelist’ for the company and maintaining its various online presences across Social Networking websites and Micro-blogging networks.

I am also in-charge of maintaining the website and the Pinstorm Blog. Apart from all this, I liaise with journalists and bloggers for maintaining ‘top of mind recall’ amongst relevant media outlets and blogs.

Tell us something about the unique model Pinstorm offers, I guess you have taken the PPC model further to Pay per Lead

Its called ‘Pay-for-Performance’. We are actually the only India-based multinational advertising firm, with offices in USA, Europe, China, Singapore, Malaysia and India.

Pinstorm is unique in its integrated approach which re-bundles creative and media in the digital world. Our solutions are created across Display, SEM, SEO, WAP, SMS, Social Media, Viral and other digital media – while they are charged for only on a pay-for-performance basis. Clients don’t pay for strategy, creative, servicing or media – but only pay for the measurable branding impact and prospect responses generated. Our clients around the world include Yahoo!, HSBC, Jet Airways, Standard Chartered, Canon, Panasonic, and Nestle among others.

Tell us something we do not know about you

I am left-handed, love to sing while I bathe and prefer non-vegetarian food

If you wouldn’t have been a blogger, you would have …

Remained a tech writer
Most memorable user feedback

To be told that my insights on Social Media and the tools to use for the medium were effective in generating revenue for a friend’s business.

Twitter Now! What Next?
Location Based Services and Location Aware Apps

3 Tips / Tricks / Cheats for budding Tweeters

  • Dont bother about your ‘follower’ count. Instead, try to follow as many people as you can
  • Dont be a snob. Engage and participate in conversations
  • Get a life. Go out there and attend those offline meets and events.

5 Bloggers and Tweeters you recommend

I follow so many interesting folks! But some of them I really enjoy are

@Netra – if you want to know about events and twitter meetups
@Dina – for Social Media related info
@Krist0ph3r – for his humour
@DarthVader – Star Wars related humour
@E71 – for all the news

Bloggers: WatBlog, Rohit Bhargava, Sampad Swain, IdeaSmith, Manu Prasad.

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