Monday, December 1, 2008

YouTube Essay

There has been a wide variety of Web 2.0 media that have emerged into our society over the past decade. Some of these contain tools that have changed the way we operate in our daily life. The ways in which we are able to communicate and find entertainment has changed dramatically. One specific Web 2.0 medium that has changed the ways in which we navigate and seek entertainment is YouTube.

YouTube is a video sharing website that allows users to upload their own personal videos for millions of other people to see. Its main purpose is for users’ entertainment value. This new Internet medium was developed in February of 2005 by three college students named Chad Hurley, Steve Chen, and Jawed Karim. One of the most important inventors of this website is Jawed Karim. The website , his own personal website , and scholarly articles retrieved from the EBSCOhost database have given me a great amount of information on this student in his $1.65 billion creation. Karim began his strive for this creation as a student at St. Paul’s Central High School. While he was attending this high school, he was constantly engaging himself with computers. He had developed his own emailing system for the school, which was his first ever project as a developing computer engineer. While in high school, Karim was eventually employed by PayPal, which describes itself as “A safer easier way to pay online and get paid online. This service allows anyone to pay in any way they prefer, in forms of credit cards, bank accounts, and account balances without sharing any financial information.” This job was the initial spark to the creation of YouTube, where he had met and began developing ideas with his future co-owners, Chad Hurley and Steve Chen. While still employed with PayPal, Karim attended the University of St. Thomas. states that he had participated in an entrepreneurship discussion at this University, where he had coined the term “Ideas are cheap.” This term by Karim was meant to illustrate that cheap ideas can come and go, but you will eventually land on one that will give you success. Karim finally landed on a good “Cheap idea” where he had wanted to launch a dating website based on videos. These videos would contain various members who would tape themselves in hope for a date with another individual. provides information that this video dating idea was eventually launched but did not succeed. Jawed then decided to modify this website from a video dating service to a service that was open to anyone, not just dating participants. While it is opened to any person, he had allowed them to upload any videos containing almost anything besides nudity and pornography. These users were able to share these videos and search for videos by using various keywords and hyperlinks. These hyperlinks that were found within the website gave users the ability to find related videos to the initial video they were watching. The form of navigating this website through the use of keywords and hyperlinks is what allows users to use this new Web 2.0 medium effectively. This final creation known as YouTube was eventually sold to Google for a total of 1.65 billion, leaving the three creators very wealthy.

In order to elaborate more on navigating features found within this new Web 2.0 medium, I would like to use two very informational readings that we have blogged about in our class. Tim O’Reilly’s article, “What is Web 2.0: Design patterns and business models for the next generation” gives a very good elaboration on searching with keywords. This article provides the differences between searching in a Web 2.0 medium rather than a Web 1.0 medium. He states that “Subject categories help narrow a users search terms and strategies, and the advanced searching capabilities increase the chances of a more relevant results list.(O’Relly 2005) This is exactly what Karim had created from his original video dating site. He allowed users to search with keywords of what they are looking for. If a user wanted to search for a specific title of a song or video, that one keyword would display a wide array of videos. If they were searching for a particular artist or a user host of the video, a large list of videos related to the keyword would also appear. This use of subject categories gives the Youtube user anything they desire to this day. It is the most effective way to navigate its large database. But there is also another very effective way in order to navigate its database. Like I have previously stated, if you search using various keywords, you will come across a wide array of results. When you click on one of these results, you will find various hyperlinks of related material. For example: If you search a particular artist and find a particular video you like, you will find various other related videos to that artist in hyperlink form. If you click that hyperlink to that video you will then find more related videos relating to that artist. It is a never ending cycle, and that is what hyper linking does. One very important reading that we have blogged about in class is Eszter Hargittai’s article, “The role of expertise in navigating links of influence.” This article contains information regarding navigation through the web with the use of hyperlinks. Hartittai basically summarizes the importance of using hyperlinks within this article. He states “Links remain an important way for users to move around online, whether within a known site or by venturing to new destinations. Links are very important precisely because they allocate user attention.”(Hargittai, 2008) This statement is very important because it relates greatly to YouTube. The various links within YouTube allow the user to allocate their attention to more areas of their interest. As I have previously stated, if you search using a keyword of something you are looking for, you are most likely interested in the results. The links that follow your initial search all relate to that area of interest and provide more and more options that can give you what you desire.

Everyone has different interests and YouTube is able to deliver various forms of entertainment to all of its users. Users are able to create their own unique user name that allows them to upload, share, and comment on various videos. Anything captured on a personal recording device can be uploaded to YouTube unless it violates its terms of service, such as pornography. These types of videos that are uploaded and shared come in all types. Based on my observations and my experience with this Internet medium, I have found that YouTube is very music friendly. Users are able to search almost any music video they want to see. These videos may fall into the form of a very old, rare video that you may not ever get to see on a medium such as television. I have been able to see many videos that I would have never seen if it wasn’t for the emergence of this great technology. I am not just referring to music videos seen on television networks such as MTV. Users are able to record live shows and concerts with their own recording device, and then upload the whole show on YouTube for millions of others to see. I have seen many users do this and it has become frequently common. Lately I have been able to find almost every show at every venue that my favorite bands have played. Before this medium had existed, it would have been almost impossible to see all these live shows on video. I would have to view these shows through individual tapes that people had recorded for themselves. But with the emergence of YouTube, I am able to view all these tapes because of its unique video sharing feature. Music videos and live music shows is just one form of entertainment found within YouTube. This website contains many other forms of entertainment that users are able to utilize.

Although YouTube users tend to rip music videos and record live performances at concerts that they have attended, they can still record themselves. I have observed that many YouTube users are recording themselves doing various acts. There are a large number of users who tend to record themselves playing a particular instrument, such as guitar. They show off songs they have written on their own and covers of their favorite bands. These people are trying to gain Internet fame, and some most certainly do. They are able to do this by gaining a large amount of viewers. Some of these users have hundreds of videos with thousands of comments on songs they play. They are known people amongst the YouTube community of people who are interested in music. This is something that could have never had been done without the emergence of this medium.

Throughout my observations, I have also found that YouTube can negatively affect a certain person. While I was surfing the Internet on my own time one day, I found a link to news article regarding a Baltimore Police Officer caught on YouTube. I watched the video and it consisted of a police officer abusing his power against a 14 year old skate boarder. In this video it is obvious the kid had done nothing wrong, but the officer was throwing a huge temper tantrum. The officer eventually ended up throwing the kid to the ground and confiscated his skateboard. What the officer did not know is that the kid’s friend was videotaping the whole thing. Later that week the owner of the video camera posted the corrupt police officers acts on YouTube for the public to see. This is when I found the news article that stated this officer had been suspended from his department. The sole reason for his suspension is YouTube. Ever since this has occurred, more and more police officers have been getting into trouble because they are being displayed to the public doing vigorous acts. Based on personal research from an Internet forum known as, I have found that videotaping a police officer is legal but most try to avoid being captured on the job for reasons like this. This would not have occurred before the emergence of this new web 2.0 medium. This is a perfect example of how the emergence of Web 2.0 technologies have changed the way we operate in society.

Throughout my research on YouTube, I have found that some organizations have blocked YouTube from their social networks. states that 1600 schools in the Australian state of Victoria reportedly blocked YouTube from its students because of a vigorous act of bullying. Students were captured on video while bullying a mentally disabled female. This type of act that is caught on tape is very serious because it is viewed by millions of people all over the world. It provides a great amount of embarrassment for those who are involved, the school, the parents, the teachers, and the community. After reading about this news article, I took my own time to search for videos on YouTube related to bullying. I was able to find many videos of schoolyard fights and videos of bullies who are picking on other kids. This is definitely a negative aspect of YouTube that many schools are trying to get their students away from. These videos encourage other viewing students to commit copy-cat acts. Although YouTube is a very entertaining medium, I do understand why schools would want to block it. There has also been controversy revolving around racist cartoons being displayed on YouTube. There was one case where the Islamic religion was attacked in a video showing offensive cartoons to the religious faith. According to Link, Pakistan had completely banned YouTube from its country in this past February. I recently have found a blog of a user who agrees with this decision. The user of this blog states “I fully support the Government of Pakistan for banning YouTube. I think it should make sure that other Muslim countries also follow suit and ban the site as well. Such actions will force the sites which don’t show any respect for Muslims to get back to their senses and learn how to exercise their free speech.” This is a very good example, I believe, that shows how certain individuals feel about YouTube and its content.

YouTube is a very successful Web 2.0 Medium. It has changed the way we operate in our daily life but has also affected many others in ways that could have never occurred without its development. Its search ability tools such as, using keywords and hyperlinks are very essential for navigation within the site. YouTube is growing every day and will continue its path by adding more and more users. It is definitely one of the most unique Web 2.0 media to this day.

Hargittai, Eszter. (2008). The role of expertise in navigating links of influence. In Joseph Turow and Lokman Tsui (Eds.), The hyperlinked society: Questioning connections in the digital age (pp. 85-103). Ann Arbor , MI: The University of Michigan Press.

Haymarket Media Hosted by Macquarie Telecom. (2008) Retrieved November 28, 2008,australian-schools-block-youtube.aspx

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Jawed Karim. (2008) Retrieved November 22, 2008

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O'Reilly, Tim (2005. What is Web 2.0: Design patterns and business models for the next generation of software. Retrieved August 21, 2008 from

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Lowry, Tom. (2008). The Anti-Youtube is Starting to Click. Business Week. 10/6/2008 Issue 4102, p52-52, 1p, 1 color

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