Do you know what YouTube is?
Most people do now and I can tell by the increasing numbers of hyperlinks to it that are showing up in my inbox.
Essentially it's a free video hosting website. Users upload video clips, YouTube hosts them their servers, and organizes them - allowing tags, comments, ranking metrics, and searching functionality.
Here, an example transcends all literal description. Below is the first clip I saw from YouTube. It's just a photo montage some Georgia girl made for her boyfriend set to Keith Urban's "Making Memories Of Us" - nothing fancy. Click on the video.
As I type this, that video has been viewed over 200,000 times which blew me (and I am sure its author "Holley") away. These videos are getting very easy to make. She used Pinnacle Studio. One just throws some pics together, adds music, and uses the video transitions from the software. Everyone is doing this now. I just made a similar video for my wife using Microsoft Movie Maker (which came with my version of Windows XP) - but instead I used Kenny Rogers' "Through The Years". Sorry, it's on my son's site - not YouTube.
Everything imaginable is on YouTube except porn and gross vulgarity. Kids dancing to music, funny clips from The Comedy Channel, news clips, funny commercials,......
Obviously, there are few ads on the site thus far and YouTube must spend a ton of money on servers and web hosting to be able to handle all of the videos people keep uploading. Whoever owns it must be trying to build up the critical mass even more before selling or partnering out (think CraigsList).
Where is all of this content coming from?
Like the example above, it's all user generated. If a clip is particularly funny, entertaining, shocking, or clever, the virtual word spreads virally and there's no limit to how many people will eventually view it.
This is not just kids dancing to music. I did a google video search on "golf" and found clips of golf tips - and these clips were really actually cleverly disguised ads for golf schools i.e. info-mercials.
Who would sit at home and voluntarily watch commercials? Well that is a dumb question in 2006. Consider that MTV is all commercials. The videos are just ads for the albums.
Back in probably the 1960s, when Coca-Cola first put its logo on a red t-shirt, critics blathered,
"Now who is dumb enough to buy a Coke shirt and pay them to advertise their product?"
Well, if it's a sharp looking and reasonably priced shirt, people will buy it no matter what. And they did.
A lot of the video content on the internet is ripped from television. This is done by,
1) Getting a DVR (Tivo).
2) Getting a FireWire card and cable for your computer.
3) Plugging it into the back of your DVR.
4) Grabbing some free ripping software off the net.
I tried this recently but it didn't work. I think I bought too cheap of a firewire card. Hopefully I will figure it out soon. Too many times I see something on tv and think, "Now, that is blog material". Plus it would be better to put my fisking of Bill O'Reilly side-by-side with video clips of him.
But the impact of pervasive file sharing and cheaply generated user content will be as revolutionary as the advent of the radio. The current TV pipe is just too narrow to satisfy the appetite of media consumers who are also tired of commercials and $60 cable bills. I can't find the link but I read recently that teens are spending twice as much time on the internet as they do watching television now. Sure a lot of it is instant messaging but they are also big consumers of YouTube and the like.
I have been following YouTube for a bit now but one clip I saw really got me thinking. It was a clip on a Boston Celtics blog (I am a huge C's fan) of highlights from a recent summer league game. Now summer league games are barely on television but someone was able to tape the game and put the highlights together. Then they posted it on YouTube. Who needs SportsCenter? What's fascinating about this is that diehard Celtic fans all over the globe were able to see obscure content that technology (and economics) would never before have permitted.
Consider that hour-long evolution lecture video that I linked to in my last post. Very soon, the net will be littered with educational clips. Perhaps some dynamic Calculus teacher will record and publish a year's worth of their lectures? Home schooled kids will be able to sit at home and learn limits, differentiation, and integration from their homes AND at zero cost. Forget "perhaps", that WILL happen, many times over, and on every conceivable subject.
The internet stock bubble may be long over, but the net's impact on every facet of society is just getting going.
Okay, I have been emailed this clip three times already. It's a parody of rap videos - only with white "WASPS" to drive home the point. Having never seen a rap video, my mother-in-law only got half of the joke - thinking it just a mockery of the blue-blooded. At first I didn't think it was that funny, but subsequent views got me laughing harder.
What do I know? It's been viewed a mere 400,000 times in its first week on YouTube.
Here's one of the links I couldn't find earlier.
Study: Only One in Four Teens Can Name Broadcast Networks