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How YouTube Is Changing The World

Kevin Allocca

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When you upload a video, YouTube's servers process it by breaking it up into pieces and transcoding it into an array of different formats optimized for different screen sizes and connection speeds. These files then get replicated and stored on servers all round the world. The more popular a video is, the more copies are distributed.

Should understand that YT is a giant crowd-sourcing exercise. As of 2017, YT's discovery algorithms were being automatically updated with over 80 billion signals (views, likes, clicks etc) from its audience every day. This is what makes YT different to every other entertainment medium we've ever had.

YT is not working to some careful plan dictated from the top down. It is magnifying the interests of the people who use it. In other words, no one is trying to dictate what people should like to watch. Rather it's trying to figure out what they do want to watch.

"We believe that for every person there is about 100 hours of YT that they would really love. If they're not watching it, it's bc they don't know about it or can't find it."

PSY's Gangnam Style would never in a million years have been picked up by an American record label. A tiny fraction of the world's popn are Korean speakers. And there are cultural barriers - the song is a parody of the behaviour of rich kids in a wealthy suburb (Gangnam) in Seoul. But the crazy dance infiltrated everywhere.

Prank channel Improv Everywhere aims "to give everyone a great story to tell." Like the time they set up a Jumbotron TV at a Little League game and got a top sportscaster to call the plays.

Downfall (Hitler harangue) parodies so he's complaining about anything you like.

One of greatest music vids was when town of Grand Rapids, Michigan (responding to a Newsweek article labelling it one of Amrrica's "dying cities') organized a 5000 strong lip synch dub of Don McLean's "American Pie" with cops, firefighters, gymnasts, football teams, a wedding party, cheerleaders and a marching band.

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Today we expect ads to be more than hard sell - we want them to add to the culture, not detract with boring interruptions. Want interaction with consumers. The first YT vid to get one million views was an ad - a Nike ad featuring famous soccer player keeping ball off the ground. Audience reaction split 50/50 in arguments as to whether it was real or faked.

"Prankvertising" - NY co Thinkmodo. To promote a scary movie they used horrifying puppet that popped up out of a box and filmed the reaction of passersby.

YT stats show we watch educational vids ten times as much as cute animals. YT is basically about learning new stuff. Top searches on how to fix scratched vid disks and cracked phone screens. Top food tute on how to make ballon choc bowls.

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"Explainer" vids - short explanation of a topic, usually with lots of visual aids. Channels such as AsapSCIENCE get a million hours of viewing a month. The title is the critical factor. Questions rather than a statement. So a story about Vit D - instead of a statement title like "You Need Vit D" or, "The Sunshine Vitamin", chose "What If You Stopped Going Outside?" People want to watch things that affect them directly, rather than general info.

All the instructional vids on YT also serve to train robots and AI. Programs like Robowatch break down the steps demonstrated and then turn them into an algorthm that can teach other robots.

The King of Claws - a site run by a young boy with thousands of hours of people trying to win prizes from claw machines.

DieselDucy - thousands of vids of the inside of elevators. Run by an Aspergers kid who got hooked on elevators at DisneyWorld. He was scared of them at first (enclosed box) but his mother reframed it by telling him it was magic - "You close the door, then when you open it again, you're somewhere else". Most of contributers and viewers are autistic ("It's funny. A lot of these kids sound like me on camera."). Elevators engage sight, sound and feeling all at once, but you still feel you have some control over the buttons - something that autism counsellors have noticed works for calming patients.

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This is typical YT - a community forming around an interest that seems completely improbable.

BookTubers for voracious readers.

Cookie Reassignment Surgery - a guy called "The Food Surgeon" carefully removing raisins from a cookie and replacing them with choc chips. Or a vid of a dry sponge soaking up water. Or a dirty sidewalk being pressure washed.

Soldiers Returning Home and surprising family.

Difference between media and social media. The first is just about content, the second is about interraction - a conversation not a lecture.

MJ's Thriller one of most influential music vids, with many tribute versions. One of best by 1500 inmates in Cebu prison in Philippines.

SEGA vid game called Zero Wing featuring a lot of mangled Japlish phrases like "What happen?" and "somebody set us the bomb". But most famously, "All your base are belong to us. You are on the way to destruction."

"Side-eyed Chloe" (2yo reacting to her drama queen sister's over-emotional act) turned into a world wide 'could you not' meme.

First RickRoll was a 4Chan user who claimed to have a trailer for widely anticipated Garnd Theft Auto 4, but the link instead pointed to Rick Astley song. (On April 1, YT itself redirected every query to the song, infuriating millions). It made the little known singer famous, and he was able to parlay that into a concert tour and a new album, which went to #1 in UK, 30 years after his original NGGYU.

The 100 best YT videos

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