There may be some folks out there who have never heard of or even experienced YouTube. But the basic principle is this. Anyone who has access to a video camera and a computer – or a combination of both – can make videos and post them on the web via their channel on YouTube .
This can and does lead to an astronomical amount of videos featuring cute pets, babies, and toddlers. These type of videos tend to go viral. *viral basically means that HUGE amounts of people click on the video to watch it* The other type of video that usually heads into viral territory are the funny ones. You know someone falls, trips, screws up…well you get the idea, I am sure.
What fascinates me are the different kinds of videos available. Make-up channels, alone, with their self-styled guru’s must run into the thousands. Movie review channels, Game review channels, in fact just about any subject you can think of crop up as multiple channels. Comedy is very popular. Guys like raywilliamjohnson, kevjumba and nigahiga all use comedy as their channels format. All channels have subscriber counts that range from none to the millions. The highly popular channels (the ones with the most subscribers) propel their presenters into “celebrity” status.
But the principle of YouTube is the same for everybody. You film your stuff and people watch it, hopefully, and then subscribe to your channel. A lot of channels on YouTube seem to be trying to get partnered. Getting partnered, I understand, is a lot like getting into heaven; lots of folks want it but only a few get it.
The popular channels result in the presenter getting partnered. These partners then get money from advertisers (like television) and grants from YouTube. Not to mention freebies from companies who want the presenters to feature their products on their channel (like television again).
A channel’s popularity is judged by the amount of views each video gets and the amount of subscribers the channel has. Also each video has a “thumbs-up or down” to show how many folks actually liked or disliked the video. There is a comment box for viewers to say what they think about the video. This can result in trolling. Trolls are disagreeable folks who put nasty, mean, or just plain rude comments on channels. They will also give all videos they watch a thumbs-down.
Unfortunately because anyone can use YouTube it also has it’s fair share of strange, nonsensical, garbled, and offensive videos. These videos are the ones where the channel presenter cannot talk without swearing every other word or shouts so loudly you cannot really understand what they are saying. Of course mumbling or talking in an incoherent fashion also fall into this category. There do seem to be more of these channels than the really good ones.
That is where the problem of communication or the lack of it comes into play. If the presenters can’t communicate the point they are trying to make it becomes a waste of time to watch. Of course for a lot of presenters, practise does make perfect. But these channels generally never reach the dizzy heights of nigahiga or raywilliamjohnson.
Some of the popular presenters go on to do other projects. Projects that became open to them because of their status as a YouTube celebrity. It also leaves presenters open to that dual edged sword of fan/subscriber identification. Because the subscriber sees the presenter on a regular basis and in a more intimate setting than they would on the ‘box,’ they feel like they know them personally. Again a lot like television, where soap opera stars are accosted on the street because the public feel like they know them personally.
I implied that YouTube is becoming the new television in my title. I think to an extent it already is. With copyright issues becoming more prevalent and intrusive and lawmakers trying to control what we, the public can watch or post on the internet; I fear that soon, just like television, YouTube will be so controlled that we will no longer have a choice of channels we want to watch.
Just like television, YouTube will be controlled by governments and sponsors and we will have to watch what they deem fit.