Kazakhstan: A Kazakh Video Tube

On St. Valentine’s Day, February 14, a Kazakh video hosting project Kaztube.kz came to life. Dozens of videos with congratulations from celebrities and government officials had been uploaded for the opening of the website. Even the prime minister congratulated on the opening of new service — such PR is unheard of for a Web project. It is not surprising though since it was a state entity that supervised the service. Moreover, the project itself was sponsored by the state budget.

As a matter of fact, there has been need for such project. Indeed, current basic Internet connection speed of Kazakhtelecom is too slow to allow watching videos on YouTube without interruptions (although for an extra fare you can get a decent Internet speed). The main idea of such projects is user generated content. Here Kaztube developers are going to be the driving force of creating content; they will also take some local TV programs and recruit creative video and animation studios, who will be getting paid.

There are also plans to teach people basic movie-making skills. But apparently, the notorious “administrative resource” and money relations are fundamental. And this is when a number of questions kicks in:

1. How much taxpayers’ money has already been spent and how much more will be.
2. Censorship. They promise that censorship will be limited to basic morals—no perversion, no fascism and no porn. But the list of categories includes “Politics.” I fear that content filtration will activate once opposition starts uploading videos addressing people or clips of meetings with constituencies.
3. Basically, the government should mind its own business. Its business should be creation of technological and market conditions for competition of new ideas and start-up projects on the Web. Its job should not be the spreading its “state capitalism,” essentially monopoly, and “manual administration” from economy to ICT.

It has to be noted that the emergence of start-ups and interesting ideas had already started last year the natural way — thanks to internal traffic’s lowering tariffs and growing connection speed. A number of social networks, photo hosting, civic journalism and podcast portals have been launched.

And by the way, video hosting had also existed long before the opening of kaztube — kiwi.kz. There are certainly questions in regards to its convenience and aesthetics, but according to opinions voiced throughout blogs, Kaztube raises similar concerns…

Pribalt-kz writes [ru]:

Advantage: the project’s implementation was quick.
Disadvantages: there’s very little content. There is no code for embedding clips into blogs. Standard flash animation is so trite that (as Lebedev would say) it makes one vomit due to lack of imagination. And it’s absurd that Livejournal is still banned in Kazakhstan.

Megakhuimyak has also some grievances about the Web site [ru]:

Dear developers of Kaztube — for starters at least take a look at Youtube. Memorize the way it looks; take notes on its main functions and algorithms of the most basic actions. And then your salary would not be in the column titled “Completely wasted state money.”

Jumshut does not like its design, which is overloaded by national ornaments [ru]:

I certainly apologize but kaztube.kz is all covered by national ornaments so that even an imbecile understands that tube is really kaz, and that .kz is really .kz?

But not everyone is so critical of the Web site. For instance, cheerful-husky says [ru]:

Yes, the waste of national money is painful. Yes, you’ve got to save more in times of crisis, etc. Whatever happened there, since money and labor has been invested, the project has been launched, so you’ve got to use its service. Good luck, Kaztube!

Also posted on neweurasia

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