“Me at the zoo” – four seemingly innocuous words which entitled the first ever youtube video that would soon kickstart an enormous revolution in internet, society, sharing and you name it (and there’s probably a video for it too).
Youtube has really transcended above not just being a popular site (which it is stands as the 3rd most visited website1) but introducing a whole new paradigm for how we’re entertained and share information, it was arguably the flagship for web 2.0 and the new system of people creating internet content and having power over it which proved to be so vast that the Time Magazine’s Person of the Year for 2006 was, on the back of this web 2.0 shift, us.
However Youtube’s influence on television has always been an interesting one with a persistent debate being can television ever be rivalled or replaced by Youtube or other websites. For now it appears the answer is, other websites maybe but Youtube, no. Yes it’d be silly for me to say that Youtube hasn’t attracted a mass audience for people who want to be entertained but for a long time and currently the line-up has predominately been music videos and funny things caught on camera etc which are of course great but still alienate the many others who seek episodic, original tv content that are found on tv’s, dvd’s and other websites, as i said. Very tough copyright guidelines inhibits such content being showcased on youtube (for instance show me a clip from a Fox show on youtube and i’ll show you something that’s very soon to be taken down) but there are exceptions which do pertain to various British shows in which whole episodes can be found from variety shows and some other shows like Fawlty Towers but not a whole lot else.
Signs do show that a change in Youtube is occurring, recent moves to fund original content being created and aired exclusively on youtube in large quantities and by successful artists have taken place and may prove to grow fast as people can be tempted to conveniently make content and immediately share it and side-step the very long and difficult process of making television shows. Through this we may see a move away from the “amateur” and toward the “auteur” as far as youtube content goes and from this it’s quite possible that a new TV can be found in youtube; only time will tell but if any site can do it, it’s Youtube.