So one of my Google Alerts I created turned up a link to a video in Veoh. Veoh is very similar to YouTube but with some features from MySpace/Friendster thrown in. It also has some elements that reminded me of my brief experimentation with BitTorrent.
Like YouTube, Veoh allows you to upload videos, comment on videos, even embed a video in say your blog. One difference is Veoh allows you to download the videos from its sight onto your own computer. To do this requires registering and downloading the Veoh client. There is a Mac OS X version which although in beta worked fine when I initially tested it out.
One thing I noticed right away was the preview video online didn’t seem to be has high quality as the average YouTube clip. Some YouTube clips are of better quality than others, but when I downloaded the clip it seemed to be both higher quality and higher resolution. Ultimately both Veoh and YouTube are dependent on just what is uploaded by their users both in terms of content and video quality, but by allowing you to download the video in the background while you say write a blog post, maybe some higher resolutions will become common.
Where Veoh is similar to MySpace or Friendster is in the “Friends” tab. I know YouTube has the concept of friends or groups too, but why Veoh reminded me of MySpace in particular is when I signed up I immediately had a friend request from Wendy. Wendy is equivalent to Tom over on MySpace, she even has a MySpace page… (well kinda) One irony about user created content is competitors could potentially host content critical of each other on each others sites. In addition to policing for adult content keeping vicious hate-filled attacks must also take some doing.
While I was trying out Veoh it also reminded me of BitTorrent. BitTorrent is a peer to peer file sharing system. What it allows you to do is pirate a movie, say “Pirates of the Caribbean”, but doesn’t require a central server, making it harder for authorities to stop the sharing of potentially illegal content. What happens is I find someone who has made the file I want available and I start downloading, once I have a portion of the file, say after I download the first twenty minutes of the movie I become a seed. If the original person goes offline I can possibly get the rest of the movie off somebody else in the network and people can start downloading the first twenty minutes off of me. I’m sure someone will come up with a legitimate use for P2P file sharing networks but my brief look at them revealed most people were using them either for piracy or porn or better still pirating porn, the double dip.
Veoh indeed operates as a P2P network, that is why the resolution of the downloaded video is higher. It also means part of my limited bandwidth is now being used to allow other people to download the same file I already downloaded. The requirement to always be online and the fact that much of the bandwidth I have potentially can be used by others to download stuff I’ve already downloaded rather than the stuff I wanted to download is why I gave up on BitTorrent. I know MBA classmates who just left it running to download movies 24/7, but another real issue is malware. P2P networks have been used to distribute all kinds of nasty stuff in addition to Madonna songs and pornography.
Another issue is privacy, I believe BitTorrent is as anonymous as possible, but knowing the US government or indeed many governments and corporations such as ISPs will still be tracking you online… So if you are using BitTorrent or Veoh to download something dubious I’m curious who can easily find this out? This will be an issue Veoh will have to deal with, Veoh like BitTorrent and unlike YouTube is reliant on users ‘seeding’ and remaining online to function at peak efficiency.
According to their FAQ, Veoh doesn’t ‘seed’ in the same manner as BitTorrent. But “the Veoh network uses a portion of the system’s capacity to “trade” small bits of video content between users” which seems to be very similar to what BitTorrent and indeed any P2P network does. Veoh must have some of its own servers hosting content otherwise if I was the only person with a video no one could download it unless I was online, that is a limitation of BitTorrent.
There are a number of BitTorrent clients and you can find ‘torrents’ by Googling. There are websites that direct you to torrents, some of which have been shut down over time I believe. Opera, always on the cutting edge of browser technology, ships with its own BitTorrent client built in now, but I’ve never gotten around to trying it out. I’ve never been big on pirating intellectual property and that seems to be the primary usage of P2P networks. Veoh will have even more trouble than YouTube getting copyrighted content legally on their site.
Other issues I can see with Veoh are: where is the content and in what format? YouTube uses Flash (.flv) and it is possible using third party software to download and keep movies from YouTube on your PC. I tried this once and it didn’t work so well, it is not a supported feature of YouTube. P2P networks keep the files in their original format and you can usually choose where the files end up. In the Mac OS X Veoh client the default location for the stuff you download appears to be /Users/Shared/Veoh/Videos I probably will change this if I continue to use Veoh. Once I learned this from the clients settings I was able to see what formats the videos were in. The videos I downloaded were in either .mpg or .wmv format and in addition to the video itself there is a .jpg which is presumably a screenshot to aid in browsing files within the client.