Once I uploaded my leaving YouTube video I was bombarded with comments saying I should start using LBRY or DTube. Funny that… being that I’m an official advisor for LBRY with stock and everything. When it comes to LBRY and by association DTube and the others I am driven by two separate financial imperatives. I want LBRY to become a unicorn and take over the world so that I can sell my stock and buy a very…. VERY nice condo in South Beach, and on the other hand my current income comes from being able to deliver content to my viewers and so I need a reliable, user friendly way to do that. In some ways those imperatives overlap, but in many ways they do not.
The idea behind LBRY and their ilk is to decentralize video distribution and create a system that no one party has an authority over. When you upload to LBRY the video meta type information is stored in a blockchain, and then the videos themselves are broken into shards and distributed amongst the network of computers that have LBRY installed. Beyond this LBRY then has built a client app that is able to parse the blockchain to turn it into a UI that can be used through a GUI. The one weak point in this system where an authority could take control would be the app that parses the blockchain, but the ability to parse the block chain is open so even if LBRY’s app is compromised someone else could build another.
Past this there is the LBRY cryptocurrency and the ability to pay for services within LBRY using it. Video creators can create a paywall to require a certain number of LBRY credits to be able to view content, certain taxonomy requires LBRY credits, etc. These credits can be earned through mining, hosting, and purchased with cash on exchanges.
When I was first sent the link to the beta I was not over optimistic. This seems like a very technically complicated way to essentially provide FTP services. After using it for a bit I was very impressed with the technical aspects and how well LBRY works on the technology level. Videos were easy, and fast to download and watch. Uploading generally worked well. And I can’t tell you exactly what I did, but I received credits, and was able to spend credits. The technology layer works like a champ even at the beta stage. As a stock holder this made me a happy geek.
This is when I had to start looking past the quality of the service and really review the PRODUCT. As a content creator how does this make my life better? Sadly this is where all of these services fall apart.
The issue for someone like me is that my real concern with platforms is simply how fickle they are. They have a set of rules one day, and then scrap them the next (YouTube). They are poised to take over the world right up until they shut down with a weeks notice (Vessel). They tell you that you should upload all of your content to their platform, and then implement a 50GB storage limit (I’m looking at you Vid.me). I’m really just looking for a stable, reliable platform with a vendor that acts as my business partner, and not a number that can be erased at a whim.
For myself I’ve chosen Vimeo as my new delivery platform. I pay $50 per month for 5TB of storage and unlimited bandwidth. I can restrict viewing and embedding of my videos to specific domains so that I can put the videos behind a paywall on my own site. For UI I get a good old fashioned video embed where the viewer clicks the arrow button and starts watching. In this situation I am the paying customer of Vimeo. I get to control, as well as you ever can, the access to my videos. The end user gets a seamless experiences that doesn’t take a MAN page to understand.
THIS is not what LBRY and such provide. I fear these folks are ironically falling into the same trap that captured YouTube. They are looking at video delivery as a technical problem and not a business one. Delivering video at this point is a near trivial task. Almost any moron can buy a Synology and setup a video RSS feed server out of their home. Even services such as Google Drive provide a surprisingly robust way of delivering content for $10 per month. And as said Vimeo does a great job. (Not to mention PodBeans, Vid.me, etc).
When I look at these services from a consumer and creator standpoint they make my like more difficult. I just want a platform that isn’t insane. It’s hard to fully explain just how insane these platforms have become. I don’t want to scream about which race should own the United States. I don’t want show images of body parts of people that may or may not be 18. I just want to be able to create content that’s a mile from the edge of anything too controversial, and not have to worry about my business being destroyed at the whim of a PR person. This is a TOS issue, not really a technical one. I just want to buy service from good old fashioned adults who have mortgages to pay, and so sell clear cut services.
When you look at the UI of LBRY and such it’s just not user friendly. They have a built in monetization system, but it’s in a cryptocurrency you have to find a way of turning into real cash. The taxonomy is a mess. And the idea of creating a coherent brand identity on any of these platforms gives me a headache. These platforms feel as if they were designed and built by engineers, not creators.
I have a vested interest in seeing LBRY succeed, and by default their competition (They’re the best so at the end of the day if this can be won they will be the ones to do it 😉 ) My issue is that the problem I have is not really a technical one. I don’t really care if my content is delivered through FTP, RTMP, LBRY, or carrier pigeon. I need a platform that’s easy for everyone to use, and will offer service as reliably as the local gas station.
The gas pump does not ask me where I’m going. The gas pump does not remark about my politics. The gas pump does not tell me who I should associate with. The gas pump takes my credit card, and gives me gas. The video platform that embraces the zen of the gas pump is the one that will win my loyalty.