YouBiquitous YouTube

YouTube recently celebrated its third anniversary with Google. Being curious, I was interested in how ‘the little video site that could’ got its start, how much it had grown since being Google-ized and frankly, I was dying to know what Google paid for it!? The story of YouTube is a fascinating and inspiring one to take in, particularly since it seems much of what we hear nowadays is focused on economic woes and downfalls. Their story is one of achievement; from humble beginnings it ends up ranked among the world’s biggest media success stories, boasting mind-boggling, staggering statistics. For the eye-popping sale amount and other interesting info, click here.

Most brilliant inventions are born from a need to solve a problem and YouTube is no exception. Only a few short years ago, it was easy to share photos online, yet frustratingly difficult do the same thing with video. So three twenty-something’s named Steve Chen, Chad Hurley and Jawed Karim decided to change all that and created YouTube in the fall of 2005. It quickly became the “new way for millions of people to entertain, educate, shock and rock one another,” said Time Magazine in 2006, when YouTube was dubbed the Invention of the Year.

YouTube Logo

YouTube captured the world’s imagination with user-generated content, bringing ‘streaming video’ into our lives and our vernacular—forever changing the way people interact. Now mind you, these three young men may have started YouTube, but let’s be honest here . . . we the people invented it. They started YouTube to share travel videos or possibly, they thought, some more tech-savvy people just may even use it to showcase eBay items. But the moment the rest of us saw YouTube, we had different plans: we hijacked it.

Common, everyday people began uploading their homemade videos in droves: their stand-up comic routines, their drunken ramblings and painful-looking sports wipeouts. They sent in their kid’s backyard science projects, off-key singing and dancing routines, their delivery-room footage and never-ending piano solos. They uploaded eyewitness footage from hurricane Katrina and the war in Baghdad—from both sides. A Time article commented that people sat,

“alone in their basements and poured their most intimate, embarrassing secrets into their webcams. YouTube had tapped into something that appears on no business plan: the lonely, pressurized, pent-up video subconscious of America.”

The Word “revolution” is thrown around a lot these days, but YouTube truly embodies the meaning of a revolution. Back then, it represented a complete and utter transformation in the way we communicated and it had impeccable timing. YouTube intersected with three other major shifts in the fabric of our times, all occurring simultaneously. First, there was a dramatic change in video production, making it possible for the everyday man, woman and child to buy an inexpensive camcorder and use the intuitive video software. Second, the social revolution known as Web 2.0 was upon us. At its grassroots level, sites like MySpace, Wikipedia, Flickr and Digg had begun to spring up as helpful websites with a dual purpose of creating social communities where like-minded people could come together and share information. Moreover, the more they would come together, the more they use, the better they work. One article referred to this as “a kind of self-stoking mass collaboration that wouldn’t have been possible without the Internet.”

The third big shift was in our culture. Time Magazine said it best,

“Consumers are impatient with the mainstream media. The idea of a top-down culture, in which talking heads spoon-feed passive spectators ideas about what’s happening in the world, is over. People want unfiltered video from Iraq, Lebanon and Darfur—not from journalists who visit there but from soldiers who fight there and people who live and die there. The videos may not be slick, but they’re real—and anyway, slick is overrated. Slick is 2005. The yardstick on YouTube is authenticity.”

Now for the staggering statistics: a scant year after the official launch in November 2005 with the first video ever aired (click here to see “A trip to the zoo”), there were 65,000 videos uploaded per day, with 100 million views. Sounds impressive, huh? It certainly is, until you read today’s stats: the site now boasts over a billion views per day (yes, that’s with a “b”) and 20+ hours of new video uploaded every MINUTE. Twenty hours in a minute folks. Holy Video Footage! “That’s the equivalent of Hollywood releasing over 86,000 new full-length movies into theaters each week,” according to Ryan Junee, Product Manager for YouTube.

We have news clips, full-length shows and movies, music videos and how-to content, sports highlights and animation, short films, homegrown videos, and, yes, all the dogs on skateboards you can watch.” *

YouTube, ever evolving to meet the changing demands of the marketplace, is adapting their user interface, rendering it even more social-media friendly. They are launching a new feature that allows users to record a video response [via an icon] immediately after watching a video. Says Junee, “Clicking on the icon will instantly activate your webcam and immediately bring you into the conversation.”

For a good laugh and dance-move memories you cannot deny, watch YouTube’s most downloaded video of all-time: Judson Laipply’s Evolution of Dance. (Is that an Orange Crush shirt he’s wearing? Could it be?)

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dMH0bHeiRNg

* Footnote: Read blog for full post: http://youtube-global.blogspot.com/2009/05/zoinks-20-hours-of-video-uploaded-every_20.html