Where do you put the videos you find around the web, and how do they express your identity? #waywire 2.0 aims to be the answer. Co-founded by Newark Mayor Cory Booker and launched nine months ago, #Waywire focused on original and user-generated content. But with today’s update the beta recenters around you collecting videos from YouTube, Vimeo, Vine and news sites into themed playlists.
From one perspective, this update is sensible. It’s #waywire trying to find its niche. “Pinterest for video” is a bit confining, but it symbolizes the value #waywire hopes to offer.
The initial ambitions of the startup were huge — to turn a generation of news-watchers into news-makers by letting them film and broadcast news segments or responses about things that fascinated them, and to augment those with original in-house news content. But shooting a newscast is tough work that creates a big barrier to user participation, and people have zplenty of news sources and behavior patterns already. Though #waywire was only in alpha, I didn’t see it gaining any traction and the company refuses to provide any user counts.
Moving towards curation bases #waywire on a quicker activity that piggybacks on the consumption most already undertake. And even if it’s official #waywire-produced videos people are curating, it makes peers you trust the source of news rather than another traditional establishment.
In #waywire 2.0, you don’t just post videos to your feed. You collect them from any of the few dozen most popular video providers on the web, and organize them into “wires” about certain topics. For example, Mayor Booker has wires dedicated to civil rights, gun speeches, and a collection of his speeches.
You can also now add hashtags, set which video is the featured of a topic wire, and what thumbnail is displayed on each video. These all give you the power to create more compelling video compilations about fascinating subjects. It also opens the door to easier monetization through traditional video pre-rolls and overlays as well as sponsored posts since the update gives advertisers topics to advertise against. That should please investors who include First Round Capital, Troy Carter, and Oprah.
#waywire is now piping in content from 200 trusted sources including BedRocket Media, CollegeHumor, HuffPost Live, Refinery29, Slate, The Young Turks, and more. This ensures there is quality for people to curate, while the #waywire bookmarklet lets them easily grab content from around the /web. The site’s interface definitely still needs some work before it deserves to drop the beta title. Vines get the bottom of their portrait shape cut off by #waywire’s landscape player, and there appeared to be no way to add existing videos you’d shared to a specific wire.
Still, there is no doubt in my mind that watching a curated video playlist assembled by an expert is an extraordinarily efficient way to learn about something. For that reason, #Waywire could have a serious impact in its new form.
Some part of me wishes Booker would keep pushing the audacious mission of changing the way news is created and discussed. But maybe that’s for the next generation who don’t just love video but have been producing their own since they were little kids.
This modest update may create the right product for this generation. At first there were bookmark sites for curating links, then Pinterest for curating images and ecommerce. Now may be the time for us to curate video news, even if we can’t produce it.