We saw a lot of work and business tools for conferencing and collaboration come out of Under the Radar last week, but what about when you want to have fun? YouCams is a slick little embeddable video, voice, and text-chatting tool that's a mix of fun and business. The entire app runs in Flash, and users can jump in and join a discussion without the need for registration. The tool is aimed at social network users (mainly the MySpace crowd) as a way to communicate and interact with one another. Something that will likely get them blocked from the service, like what happened to competitor Stickam.
If you've used Stickam before, the Webcam functionality is a little similar. And by a little I'm being generous, because YouCams is much more full featured. There are two tiers of service, both free and paid. Basic registration is fairly generous, giving you voice, text, and video broadcasting privileges. Upgrading to the premium level turns YouCams into a full-on conferencing tool, allowing you to video chat with three other users at the same time, and own a personalized URL with the option to host your own conferencing room.
An interesting addition to YouCams is integration with YouTube, and a large variety of widgets. These float around on the interface, and require no extra installation. It feels a little bit like YourMinis. The Space Invaders widget in particular nearly kept me from finishing this post. Likewise the YouTube integration is well done. Video links pop up in a conversation bubble, and won't start until you click on them. Like the widgets, they float around and can be resized on an ad-hoc basis.
There's also a social networking component integrated in the service. Users trade 'stars,' which act as credits to buy into various features. It's an interesting take on user involvement, although I'm not sure it'll catch on until users have a real reason to get involved. Maybe giving them access to premium content like music or movie downloads would be a good hook. In the meantime, casual chatters will likely get a kick out of YouCams for its slick interface and ease of use.
I've embedded a YouCams module after the jump. It might not run if you're using Firefox. We've been in contact with the YouCams team about this, and they're on it.… Read more
Microsoft is closing its video-sharing site, Soapbox, to new users for up to two months so it can create better safeguards against pirated content.
The software giant, which agreed earlier Thursday to distribute movies and TV shows for big media companies, has seen Soapbox fill up with unauthorized clips since a test version of the site launched last month.
No new subscribers will be accepted, but anyone who has already signed up for Soapbox can continue to access the site, said Adam Sohn, a director in Microsoft's online-services group.
Microsoft stood to be embarrassed by the existence of pirated work on Soapbox. There was a real possibility that the company could have found itself distributing video from News Corp. and NBC Universal, at the same time another one of its units was hosting material stolen from those same companies.
Microsoft, AOL, and Yahoo have agreed to be part of a new online joint venture of media conglomerates that also includes NBC Universal and News Corp. The new video network, scheduled to debut this summer, will feature full-length programming, movies, and clips from at least a dozen television networks and two major film studios. … Read more
YouTube has launched the first ever YouTube Awards with 70 videos in seven categories. This week viewers can vote to pick their favorites of 2006. It's kind of like the Oscars, but for user-generated video clips such as Lonelygirl15 and Ask a Ninja. As of right now, there's nothing on the awards page but a bunch of comments from confused users who have made their way to the site to find nothing to vote on. Digging deeper, clicking on playlist shows a full listing of clips. We're assuming there will be a voting system similar to the … Read more
According to a war game played out at London's Business School last week, MySpace wins. But, in a conclusion that was validated by this week's Viacom lawsuit against Google and YouTube for copyright infringement, the participants concluded that both MySpace and YouTube are vulnerable to legal attacks and government regulations that target illegal activities and objectionable content, such as child pedophilia and pornography.
Copyright lawsuits will be a "major distraction at best or they could undermine" the businesses, says Leonard Fuld, president of Boston-based Fuld & Co., which ran the war game. "Sexy and cool as MySpace and YouTube seem, they are prone to attacks."
Meanwhile, the team of students representing MySpace successfully convinced the panel of experts who judged the war game that MySpace has the most viable business strategy among the social network sites. "MySpace won the game by a fairly good margin. They had a much better argument: that content is king," Fuld says. "MySpace won the strategy event...whether it will win the war" is unclear. … Read more
Vlogging social network Vlip launched this morning, providing users with a way to record and share video messages with others using their Webcams. Vlip has incorporated a system similar to YouTube's, allowing Vlip users to post a video response to another user's video. Both the video and its responses can be viewed from embedded Vlip clips on social networking profiles, blogs, and Web sites (similar to the dynamically updating embeds on SplashCast and Searchles.) Posting and browsing the site requires no registration.
What's also neat is the ability to add a response from any embed on other … Read more
Google has released a new module to use on its personalized homepage that retains the look and feel of its Windows-only installable chat application, Google Talk. What's interesting is that the Web-based version ends up having a few extra features you don't get with the desktop client. For instance, starting a conversation with a contact creates a new tab on the top of the interface. You can jump through these like tabs on a Web browser. It's far better system than the Google Talk application, which uses expandable horizontal bars like Microsoft Outlook.
There's also a … Read more