Create the Path of Least Resistance
There has been a wonderful story zipping around the web over the last two days. It's about high schooler Jason McElwain, an autistic senior who lives in Rochester, NY and manages the varsity basketball team. In the last game of the year, a rout of the opposing team, Jason plays the final four minutes of the game, hits six three-pointers, and scores 20 points.
I watched the video on YouTube as I was slurping down my Cheerios this morning, and the story brought me to tears. It had already been viewed just over a million times on YouTube in the few days it had been posted.
By lunch, it was up to 1.3M views.
And by dinner, it had been pulled down.
There is a very thoughful post on the CBS Public Eye blog--which has the goal of bringing "transparency to the editorial operations of CBS News"--as to why CBS, who ran the original story, asked YouTube to take it down.
The reason, in a nutshell? CBS wanted the 1M+ visitors (and presumably pre-roll ad views) that came with the great story and viral distribution of the clip.
Completely legitimate, but perhaps it got play on YouTube and not CBS for a reason?
The answer lies in Dion Hinchcliffe's post "16 ways to think in Web 2.0":
The link is the fundamental unit of thought. It's called the Web for a reason. The link is the foundational element for connecting the entire Web together. Your information, your relationships, your sense of navigability, and even chunks (of chunks) of content are all referenceable by a URL.
On YouTube, I can distribute the video by cutting and pasting a URL.
On CBSNews.com, I can do the same, except also, umm, you have to look at the right side of the page, halfway down, and click the small play button. Oh, and you have to have RealPlayer installed.
It's a small thing, but it's about the path of least resistance.
Ultimately, it shouldn't even matter where the video is played. If there's an ad start, a content publisher should be happy that it's not paying bandwidth costs to distribute revenue-generating content.
The music industry should have taught us this one: make it easy for users to do the right thing, especially when there's a business model beating you over the head with huge bags of money.