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YouTube Adds Webcam Upload, Chatrooms

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YouTube updated its UI and added new features over the last couple days, allowing users to upload directly from webcams and set up chatrooms. We’ve been playing around over the weekend and like what we see.

These are YouTube’s most noteworthy feature additions since to it joined up with big corporate parent Google, and they’re all directed at community creators and viewers, rather than advertisers and big media. Of course, ads for a new Coca-Cola holiday promotion littered across the site may be easier to find, but there’s also a newly added “Video Toolbox” of how-to articles from Videomaker Magazine.

The simplicity and universal compatibility of YouTube’s on-site Flash transcoding was instrumental to its success. The site’s most interesting new feature brings it even closer to the act of uploading video, allowing for uploads direct from webcams through a Quick Capture tool.

This is pretty easy, and helps eliminate some of the hassle that still keeps much of video off the web. Quick Capture is not instant gratification, but it’s fast. It does mean YouTube is going to be hosting a crapload more of crappy video.

Lastly, the chat feature, called Streams, is the first product out of YouTube’s newly exposed labs section — cutely titled TestTube. Users can set up chat rooms and bring in a whole bunch of videos for discussion, then gather participants to wander in and talk about the videos. These are currently ad hoc and hard to sift through, but some more structure around the screening rooms could bring in a devoted audience of the Usenet/forums variety, with scheduled gatherings around a specific topic.

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