Ethiotube: you a tube, me a tube, everyone a tube-tube

April 10, 2008, [MD]

I’ve posted some great Amharic dance videos earlier, and today I came across, a Youtube clone started in February this year and describe themselves in this way:

Founded in February 2007, EthioTube is the leader in Ethiopian online video, and the premier destination to watch and share original videos related to Ethiopia worldwide through a Web experience. EthioTube allows people, mostly Ethiopians, to easily upload and share video clips on and across the Internet through websites, mobile devices, blogs, and email.

So far, they only seem to have 81 videos online (according to the statistics), which varies widely. There are some dance videos, but also some documentaries. Here is a scary short film about a white fire and brimstone preacher who gives an Ethiopian audience the whole tele-evangelist treatment:

And here is a clip from what looks to be “Ethiopia’s Next Great Stand-up Comedian”… I cannot understand what she says, but it sounds interesting.

When I wrote this blog post, the most viewed clip was a talk on Ethiopian Higher Education with 800 views. Today (April 2, 2013), the most viewed video is a clip from an Ethopian film with more than 172,000 views.

What I find interesting in all this is the idea of setting up a Youtube clone for a country - or a cause. I know there is already Teachertube, partly started because Youtube is blocked in so many schools. What are the advantages and disadvantages to doing this? Should there be envirotube, gaytube, and obamatube? (Some of these exist, although with different names).

There are strong local video sites in China, like Youku and Ku6, but not only is the interface language completely different (and so is the language used on most of the videos of course), but there are also issues of speed of access from hosting within China, internal censorship to avoid being blocked wholesale, etc. However, the interface for Ethiotube is all in English, and many of the movies, although related to Ethiopia, are in English as well. I am not sure where the servers are located, and if that makes a difference locally - but my first hunch was that the main target group is the Ethiopian diaspora, with high-speed internet access.

On the one hand I am sure Yotube can use all the competition it can get, and creating meeting places for a diaspora is a worthy cause. On the other hand, I would never have come across the Ethiopian dance clips - or a huge amount of other crazy, improbable and wonderful clips - if it hadn’t been in one central location. And to a certain extent this reminds me of the predilection I saw in the open source community to always want to start their own applications, instead of contributing to already existing projects, or to constantly want to roll their own Linux distributions. One for Indonesia, one for Muslims, one by the Department of Education, one for each campus…

Not sure where this is going, but it will be interesting to see how this develops - whether everyone end up on Facebook, or the Germans are on StudiVz, the Russians on VKontakte, the Chinese on Xiaonei and the Turkish on Qiraz?


Stian Håklev April 10, 2008 Toronto, Canada
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