When YouTube first came on the scene it was dismissed by mainstream communicators as one of those blips on the radar screen that would soon pass on.
How wrong can you be?
Today we see YouTube used by media savvy U.S. politicians. When President Obama was running for the Presidency, his communication staff prepared brilliantly crafted YouTube productions that achieved an estimated 14.5 million viewing hours. How could one ever hope to obtain that sort of reach with a regular TV commercial?
Canada’s Prime Minister, Steven Harper, has gone the YouTube route as well to reach the younger demographics and was successful in getting his messages across.
Susan Boyle’s, “I Have A Dream” CD had 400 million video hits on Web sites within nine days. The Los Angeles Times said, “Her popularity on YouTube may in part be due to the broad range of emotion packed into a short clip which was perfect for the Internet.” “I Have a Dream” is the fastest selling CD in history, all due to YouTube.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and many state and local police agencies are now producing videos to be shown on YouTube as an extension of the old Crime Stoppers programs. These are meeting with increasing success in nailing the bad guys.
New York City’s prestigious Guggenheim Museum and YouTube recently launched a competition to search for the most creative videos and expand on the idea of what video can be. Named “YouTube Play. A Biennial of Creative Videos”, the project will select 20 videos to be presented at the Guggenheim on October 21st and simultaneously in Berlin, Bilbao and Venice.
Guggenheim Foundation Deputy Director, Nancy Spector said, “We’re not looking for what is now, we’re looking for what is next.”
You know you have created an instrument of change when governments want to shut you down. Iran and North Korea, to name just two countries, have both implemented powerful national firewalls to block access to YouTube because they want to control what their citizens can see.
Psiphon (www. psiphon.ca) is a web proxy designed to help Internet users securely bypass the content-filtering systems used to censor the Internet by governments. Psiphon was developed by the Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto, building upon previous generations of web proxy software systems, such as the “SafeWeb” and “Anonymizer” systems.
In 2008 Psiphon was spun off as a Canadian corporation that continues to develop advanced censorship circumvention systems and technologies. Psiphon maintains its research and development lab and computer network “red team” at The Citizen Lab, Munk Centre for International Studies, University of Toronto.
YouTube also calls into question the need for traditional networks like CBS, NBC, ABC, BBC, etc.
Jeffrey Macpherson has come up with a brilliant idea for TV stardom: use YouTube to create your audience. The 32-year-old Canadian has emerged as an early break-out star in the new era of video podcasting.
Macpherson stars in “Tiki Bar TV,” a periodic series of quirky, vignettes – each lasting only a few minutes. They are available only by download from his web site, www.tikibartv.com or Apple’s iTunes service for the iPod.
The series has won a rabid following since debuting last year. Each segment draws approximately 300,000 or so viewers, rivaling the reach of many cable shows.
When disasters occur, folks are on the scene before first responders arrive, streaming live video shots of the incident to the world at large. I would like to suggest YouTube is causing the same shift in literacy as the Gutenberg bible did in 1452-53.
My position is that we have only just begun to understand the power and reach of YouTube.