Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Time's Invention of the Year: YouTube

Time magazine has assembled their list of the best inventions, and the winner is YouTube. Here is a little bit about the origin and reality of this incredible thing they built.

But even though they built it, they didn't really understand it. They thought they'd built a useful tool for people to share their travel videos. They thought people might use it to pitch auction items on eBay. They had no idea. They had opened a portal into another dimension.

The minute people saw YouTube they did its creators a huge favor: they hijacked it. Instead of posting their home movies, they posted their stand-up routines and drunken ramblings and painful-looking snowboarding wipeouts. They uploaded their backyard science projects, their delivery-room footage and their interminable guitar solos. They sent in eyewitness footage from the aftermath in New Orleans and the war in Baghdad -- from both sides. They promulgated conspiracy theories. They 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. Having started with a single video of a trip to the zoo in April of last year, YouTube now airs 100 million videos -- and its users add 70,000 more -- every day.

Read the whole article.

I added the bold emphasis to that quote. I think that one sentence sums up the hyper-reality that is YouTube. It's like we have found a way to make the collective unconscious available to anyone with a computer and internet access.

I can go to YouTube and relive the music videos I loved in high school, find videos of people doing painful things to themselves, see drunken idiots that could have been me if I still drank and had a video camera, or just find travel footage from places I've never been and never will go. I can see intelligent people debate big ideas, politicians talk about absolutely nothing and still manage to lie, comedians make fun of just about anything, instructional videos on meditation, and on and on. Some of it is horrific and nightmarish, some of it is surreal and funny as hell, and some of it is just everyday life caught on film.

It's amazing. Everything we can imagine is available on YouTube or one of its clones (DailyMotion, vSocial, iFilm, Clip Shack, and several others).

Time often gets it wrong on their person of the year, but this one they got right.

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