Photo: Robert Scoble via Flickr
Commercial Television was born in 1939 at the World’s Fair. For more than 70 years, it was the dominant form of media — providing the platform that allowed for the emergence of mass media and national and global brands.In 2005, the seeds of change were sown, and mass media began to fade into the distance as a new personal niche video distribution system emerged.
There’s no doubt that the seeds of Web video were already in place. fibre optic cable was making broadband a reality. Digital video gear was for sale at lower and lower prices, and higher quality. And formerly passive “viewers” were beginning to think of themselves as content makers.
But YouTube’s founders seemed to understand intuitively that something big was happening. Chad Hurley, and co-founders Steve Chen and Jawed Karim knew that their peers where making social video, and sharing it was almost impossible.
As much as MTV’s “Video Killed The Radio Star” launch video heralded the beginning of a new kind of TV — Me At The Zoo was the start of something new and important.
What Hurley and his partners understood was that the barriers to entry in the video space were gone. No longer did you need a transmitter, an FCC licence, or an expensive Betacam camcorder. Video making had been democratized — and video distribution was poised to shift from a centralized client/server mechanism to a shared Web of makers and viewers.
YouTube was created in February of 2005. It is just a bit more than five years old today.
In those five years, so much has changed. While mainstream / old / legacy has fought to keep their business models and our content consumption habits in place, YouTube has been powering a grassroots creator movement.
What YouTube understood — and has been able to keep as core value — is fundamental openness of video uploading.
YouTube’s first offices were above a pizzeria in San Mateo, by July 2006 the site was uploading 65,000 videos a day — and receiving 100 million video views a day. YouTube was purchased by Google Inc. for $1.65 billion in November 2006.
But what Hurley did after that is what will make him such an important historic figure. He stayed.
What Hurley understood was that Web video was an evolving ecosystem. Despite the claims that YouTube was, at its core, a network of pirated content, anyone watching Web video is seeing that the explosion is in content creation, not content piracy.
What’s changing is that video is no longer about “entertainment,” but increasingly about creating and distributing video knowledge and information.
As Chris Anderson of the the TED Conference suggested in a recent TED talk, that the Web, and in particular Web Video is changing the way we learn. He called this change ‘Crowd Accelerated Innovation.”
So, as Chad Hurley hands over the reigns of YouTube to Google managment, it’s clear that his work creating one of the core building blocks of the new media world is done, and well done. But what comes next, the evolution of the software side of the Web video ecosystem, is just getting started. Finding ways to organise, focus, and filter content is just beginning. Thanks to Hurely and his partners, we’ve got a great basis to build on.
Today, YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world, second behind Google. And it’s the third most visited Web site on the net, behind Google and Facebook.
Chad Hurely is 33 years old. I can’t wait to see what he does next.
Steven Rosenbaum is a curator, author, filmmaker and entrepreneur. He is the CEO of Magnify.net, a Realtime Video Curation engine for publishers, brands, and Websites. His book “Curation Nation” is slated to be published this spring by McGrawHill Business.
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