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DIY for the win

15 Feb 2024

I am going to start hosting my own content.

Having become increasingly frustrated with YouTube and its ever-changing, inconsistently enforced policies and dubious AI, I figure it's time to simply set up a computer and start serving this stuff myself.

This will also mean I can self-host a new set of forums, something that is long-overdue.

By bringing this stuff in-house I get full control over the hardware, the software and the management of such things. No longer will I have to worry about an ISP updating a key piece of back-end in a way that breaks something (like the forums),some erroneous copyright claim or voicing views that are not congruent with the ideology of a third-party platform.

To this end, I'll be getting the second port of my ONT activated with a static IP and throwing another gigabit router on there.

At this stage I'm not too sure what computer hardware I'll use because there are actually quite a few practical options, due to the relatively low demands that will be made of it.

Even on a good day I will likely only be servicing a few concurrent users and the 500MBs upload speed of the fibre connection will be more of a limit than the CPU of even something as puny as a Raspberry Pi 5.

However, given that the total cost difference between a suitably capapble RPI5 system and a very low-end PC is not that great, I'll probably go for an Intel-based box with iGPU so as to allow video transcoding on the fly if/when necessary. Despite the popularity of ARM these days there's also a lot more choice when it comes to software on an Intel-based CPU.

The software used to serve up videos will likely be PeerTube, an open-source system that looks and feels very much like YouTube, from an end-user's perspective.

As for forums, I'm currently taking a good look at all the options. The old PHPBBS is an option but I'd like something a little more "mobile-friendly".

I will still be uploading my videos to YouTube, which is where they're get the most of their views, but by self-hosting I'll be able to also publish videos that would almost certainly trigger YouTube's crazy AI to penalise me in some way or another.

Lots of people have asked "Why don't you just use Rumble/Odysee/whatever?"

Well I have my doubts as to the long-term future of those platforms. The problem is that, aside from a few cases, they really just don't attract an audience and are not particularly well curated. There attempts to become "yet another YouTube" is their downfall.

My belief is that if you create a site that is topic-specific then the content is far more likely to be watched. If I create a video serving platform that focuses on just a few well-defined subjects then people won't have to sift through masses of irrelevant dross to find the stuff they're after. I will be offering use of the platform to anyone who wants to upload relevant video content so hopefully it will gain a "critical mass" within the small niche being served.

The creation of content-specific video servers may in fact be the future of user-generated video on demand content, IMHO.

A meta-search/curation site could then bring together all those smaller servers and provide a more "YouTube-like" experience but I suspect that many, many people will simply go directly to the sites that carry relevant content.

Yes, I know that this is kind of how Odysee works but the problem with Odysee is that searching is just so damned slow, even when you've selected a specific genre or topic. When all the videos on a particlar subject are hosted on a single computer, searching becomes a whole lot faster and more useful.

With all this ahead of me it looks like I've got a lot of work to do over the coming months so I'd better get on with it.

Carpe Diem folks!

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