I've not had much use for YouTube, but I do have a son who does better with video than with text. I figured I'd collect selected educational videos for him to study from, using a family video learning blog.
That was when I began to learn that YouTube sucks.
Yes, there's lots of stuff there, and some of it is well done. There's Monty Python, for example. When it comes to education in general, and science in particular, however, it's really lousy. Most of the material is both very poor quality and very old.
The problem isn't a lack of good material. There's an enormous quantity of instructional science material owned by the BBC and by the television networks. That material could be sliced, diced and repackaged to create thousands of high quality educational videos from brief demonstrations to longer expositions.
The problem is money, or lack thereof. We need a way for people who own high quality material, or who are able to create it, to get paid.
I'd like to see YouTube offer up this material with a 10 cent/min 1 day rental fee. A five minute concept demonstration would cost 50 cents to rent until midnight. A 60 minute show would cost $6.
Maybe that wouldn't be enough to unlock the vaults of the BBC. It might be too easy to steal for example. It would, however, be enough to support independent production of short format well catalogued educational video material.
Stop being free YouTube, and start being valuable.
Update 3/5/2010: Per Janek Mann, in comments, YouTube debuted YouTube Rentals in beta about 7 weeks ago:
... Introducing the beta of YouTube Rentals, a pay-to-view model on YouTube. Providing content owners a new way to generate revenue on the site, YouTube Rentals allows partners greater flexibility to monetize a variety of videos, provides full control over their content, and allows content owners to tap into the world's largest online video community.Evidently they thought it was a good idea too, though, barring time travel, they've probably been planning this for years. Obviously I'm a fan!
The YouTube Rentals beta is currently available only to content owners in the U.S.