YouTube’s market share in online video is monopolistic. Why does it matter? Here’s the best example yet: YouTube suspends Egyptian blog activist’s account.
You could protest YouTube’s policy in this case or any other situation where videos get censored. But fundamentally, the structure of the online video market is where the problem lies.
When the place people watch videos is the same as the place people host videos, you get consolidation and gatekeepers. Publishers want to put up a video once and reach as many folks as possible, so of course the more popular YouTube gets, the more reason they have to publish there. Users like to have one space that brings together all the video they like, but if all that video is hosted by the same service then you have a single company controlling what people can and can’t watch. This snowball effect for both creators and users is what helped YouTube grow so fast; the more popular it got, the more sense it made for everyone to use it. It’s also what put a single company in charge of so much of what gets seen online.
Miro is designed to break the tie between where a video is hosted and where it’s watched. Miro can pull in video from YouTube, from other big videos sites, or from any tiny server anywhere on the internet. Just as users don’t care where your web servers are, they shouldn’t care where your video is hosted. A decentralized model lets video hosting companies compete for creators with better service (not just the biggest user base) and gives viewers a unified experience that brings in video from everywhere (not just the biggest video site of the moment).
You can’t have real freedom of speech when 90% of viewers are watching video on just a few sites run by naturally risk-averse corporations.