Tongues, Turtles, and a New YouTube

by Secret Sister Caitlin

Date:  A cloudy, humid Thursday.  5:00pm.
Location:  Hudson River Coffee House, Quail St., Albany, NY.
Dork saturation factor: 20%.  There are five people in here and I’m the only one with a Macbook.  Two look homeless, one guy is serving food in an Iron Maiden t shirt, and there’s an Asian kid eating a hot dog in the corner.


This place is a paragon of laid-back cool.  It’s not pretentious like some of the other coffee shops in Albany.  I don’t feel obligated to buy things every hour, but I do anyway because I want to support.  They’ve got old couches from the 80’s and church benches and mismatched leather chairs.  My Macbook is resting on a scratched wood table with a checker board carved into the right side and holes drilled haphazardly into the left side.  There’s a mixture of locally sourced abstract art and Picasso-style art on the walls, an old jukebox in the back corner, and a bunch of old fashioned video games in a row, one of which is entitled “Turtles in Time.”  It’s weird in here.

Today’s topic is inspired by the 7th annual VidCon.  I think about VidCon with a twinge of regret because I am not there to volunteer or staff, but I also have to remind myself that they don’t need volunteers anymore.  Getting the 1st Annual VidCon off the ground in 2010 meant random Vlogbrother’s fans offering to help do stuff under the supervision of Hank’s dad.  There were 1400 attendees, and most of them had no idea what was going on.  The only thing we knew was we loved online video.

I remember Hank coming into the room where we were putting the “swag bags” together.  There was a mountain of Orabrushes piled in the corner of the room – Orabrush was one of VidCon’s first sponsors – and my new friend Nicky was lying in them pretending to be a tongue getting cleaned by 1,000 Orabrushes at once.  Hank’s eyes were glazed over.  It was obvious he hadn’t slept.  He looked at us.  He said one sentence. “What is going on.”  It was more like a statement.

The Orabrush Tongue at Vidcon 201

Fast forward 7 years, and now VidCon is this big deal and it has over 20,000 attendees.  That’s 15x larger than the first annual VidCon.   In the words of Hank Green, what is going on.  I may not need to be there anymore, but one thing hasn’t changed: I still love online video.

I’ve listened to the live streams.  I’ve watched the keynotes and the speeches.  I’ve kept up with the new trends for 2017.  Here is a handy-dandy bullet list of the new stuff happening on YouTube this year:

  • Communication.  YouTube partners will be able to email YouTube for help and get an email from a real person within 24 hours.  Love this!  Especially in light of the safety issues and bullying issues that have been happening on the site.  Which brings me to…
  • Moderated Comments.  YouTube partners (and potentially all YouTubers) will be able to delegate a trusted username to be a “moderator” for their comments section.  I love this too.  Yada yada free speech whatever.  YouTube / Google is a company.  They have a moral obligation to make sure people feel safe.  They would curate comments themselves if there weren’t 100 billon of them.  In light of the shooting of Christina Grimmie, and the ongoing problem of online bullying, it’s nice to know that YouTube cares.  Even when they keep….
  • Changing the design of the goddamned upload page.  Cue heavy breathing.  I know they want to make it sleek.  I know they want to make it functional.  I know they need to update.  But please. First it was the “upload page,” then it was the “video manager,” and now the “creative hub.”  A simple UPLOAD button worked, and it still does.  My favorite anecdote online is how Marissa Meyer, CEO of Yahoo!, repeatedly refused to clutter the beautifully stark google homepage.  YouTube can learn something from this beauteous thing!


  • A better penalty system.  YouTube has heard the frustration of those who have had their page shut down after getting “three strikes,” and they have also heard the frustration over content ID matching penalties.  A new system is coming.  It would be nice to have a more clear understanding of what’s allowed and to see consistency applied to these penalties.

What kind of crazy cons, cool cafes, or fun times have you all been enjoying?  Secret Sister Caitlin over and out.