Dude, Where’s My Video?
Imagine turning on your television and seeing nothing but static on every single channel, no news, no entertainment and no music. That’s pretty much what happened to the Internet version of television in Pakistan almost six months ago; YouTube.
We all used to spend countless hours watching trailers for new movies, music videos and funny cat videos. YouTube was one of the best forms of pure entertainment, but that’s a given. How else have we been affected by the loss of YouTube?
There are over 800 million unique visitors to YouTube each month who watch over 4 billion hours of video in over 60 languages. Its safe to say that YouTube is the largest video sharing site on the planet and when we lost YouTube we lost part of our connection to the outside world, we lost a major window to what’s happening around us.
Most of the information that came to mainstream media about the Arab Spring was from people on the ground posting videos to YouTube. It was a YouTube video of Neda Agha Soltan’s death that drew international attention to the 2009 Iranian election protests. When news of the tsunami in Japan hit, millions of people went straight to YouTube to witness the disaster.
Aside from insight into what’s happening on the planet before it breaks on mainstream media YouTube is full of videos for product reviews, how-to, why and what!
Before going out to buy a new phone or computer millions of people will seek the guidance of product reviews on the video sharing site seeking the opinion of first time buyers who’ve made personal videos and larger groups of tech experts who usually have very detailed videos. These videos allow us to see and experience the products before we go out and buy them.
The world of education has lost out big time as there are millions of hours of video on YouTube covering a very wide range of topics from studying for your SAT’s to more advanced lectures on engineering and medicine from colleges like MIT and Harvard. There is an entire world of distance education that allows people to earn degrees online and a lot of these websites deliver their lectures using embedded YouTube players.
Doctors use YouTube for physician to patient videos in which a physician discusses specific health issues are very widely viewed. Some doctors use YouTube to build their personal brand by putting their expertise on video. Some physician researchers use YouTube to post presentations that accompany studies. Colleagues who are unable to attend medical meetings or conferences can access these videos.
In the world of marketing YouTube is used to promote online like no other! Commercials are shared, product tutorials are created and branded entertainment rule supreme online.
Over 8 million people tuned in to watch Felix Baumgartner jump from a helium balloon from an altitude of 128,00; he actually broke the sound barrier (Mach 1.24 to be exact) during his freefall to earth, which lasted a little over 4 minutes. That’s pretty cool! And the “pretty cool” was brought to the web and YouTube by Red Bull who, are pretty good at creating, dare I use the term shudderingly, “viral” videos.
There are alternatives to YouTube such as Viemo, dailymotion and Metacafe. All of these sites have the same functionality as YouTube, they let you upload and share videos, let users comment and create channels. The big difference is that YouTube is where everyone already is! And that’s why it holds the lion’s share of the content – it’s like Facebook versus Google Plus, the latter is pretty much the same as Facebook and in some cases has better features, but none of your friends are there!
So until we learn that we can’t control he Internet, as it’s simply a manifestation of human nature, we shall remain in the dark!