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Weekly #10: Danke, YouTube!

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Although by Canadian time I am a month and change too late, I would like to give thanks to YouTube during this time of Thanksgiving. YouTube, you have become so integral to my everyday life over the past five years that I don’t remember a time before your birth. You’ve given me laughter, tears, laughter through tears and, most importantly, information of all sorts. You have done this with grace and wisdom, never charging me or making me break a sweat.

Sure, you didn’t make the billions of videos on your site, but you host them and let me find them in lightning speed. And you even let me watch them with minimal wait time. Sample me this, Batman, and feast on the harvest of videos that have made you glorious in my mind: kittens, David, the cutest laughing baby in history, Charlie’s finger biting, SFG, JK wedding dance, Antoine Dodson a.k.a. my love, and Justin Bieber. You also act as my one stop shop for movie trailers, clips, interviews, fan videos that turn me into a fan, and complete songs.

Perhaps I am most grateful to you, YouTube, because you put the power with the people. Anyone with an internet connection and camera (now already installed in laptops) can contribute to your site. You embody the central ideas that we have discussed in class this semester. You lower barriers for participation, welcome user feedback through comments, and celebrate and reward the long tail. You have become a main point of reference for all, and not a day goes by without someone saying, “Did you see that YouTube video?” This is true for videos of things as trivial as the double rainbow and as momentous as the protests of the 2009 Iranian presidential election. You hold them on equal ground, letting me find, watch, share, and discuss what I want.

In other words, YouTube is conversation. (Aw, the Cluetrain authors must be so proud!) You allow for greater connectivity and shared experiences, doing what television did for Americans in the 1950’s (and much more). Your links are ubiquitous and sharing them is a main way video gets passed along on the internet.

You may think you are just the medium, YouTube, but in your case the medium is the message. Being able to post a video of my talent, thoughts, or anything I see fit to record tells me that I’m worth just as much as footage of Princess Di’s fairytale wedding. In fact, you’ve ripped up Coase’s floorboards so much that my contribution may be worth more to the people than coverage of the People’s Princess.

The point is, YouTube, you are getting a hearty shout-out during the family prayer and share in two days. I imagine the conversation going something like this:

Mom: “I’m grateful for having my family all together in one place.” Translation: “Thank God you’re all here, I need help decorating the tree, and many of you owe me money.”

Dad: “I’m grateful for having a healthy family.” Translation: “You heard your mother. Start bringing down the ornaments.”

Brother A: “I’m grateful for the food we are about to eat.” Translation: “This is worse than torture. Just let me eat now. Tara’s about to say something stupid…”

Me: “I’m grateful for YouTube, which gives me plenty to laugh and cry at. Plus, I can learn, share, and connect on there.” Translation: “Look, family, look at what I’m teaching you!”

Brother B: “I’m grateful that Tara is leaving in three days.” Translation: None required.

Brothers C and D nod in agreement.