YouTube: the best boredom cure since Facebook

Question: What do OK Go, the Crocodile Hunter and George Washington have in common?

Answer: All of the above are subjects of popular videos on YouTube.com, the website that allows users to watch and upload their own videos for free.

Across the top of the website are tabs marked with different ways of featuring popular videos, such as “Most Viewed,” “Top Rated,” “Most Discussed” and “Most Linked” – under which viewers can find such videos as alt-rock band OK Go in a synchronized dance number on treadmills, tributes to Steve Irwin, the recently deceased “Crocodile Hunter” and an animated short declaring hilarious merits of George Washington.

YouTube.com was founded in February 2005 in a Menlo Park, New Jersey garage. It has free memberships that allow users to create their own “channels” of videos, comment on videos, rate videos and create subscriptions to keep abreast of new videos from favorite users.

According to statistics on the website, YouTube receives about 100 million views on a daily basis, with roughly 65,000 new videos uploaded every day. Although the website is less than two years old, it has rapidly sparked an internet sensation that came to a head this summer- this could be the newest thing since facebook- and with several new technological capabilities and media partnerships, YouTube has begun to show its clout in the internet world.

In May, YouTube announced that it would allow users to upload videos from their mobile phones and PDAs to the website. This now allows amateur videographers to capture and publish breaking news – which also means silly cell phone videos can amuse more people more quickly for more low-brow users. While this added capability might seem like a minor development, it may point to the growing market that YouTube can tap into due to the onset of more devices that capture video.

Later in the summer, in late June, YouTube and NBC announced a partnership designed to promote the television network’s programming through use of the website. This relationship arguably marks a coup for YouTube after last winter, when NBC demanded the removal of a video captured from an episode of “Saturday Night Live” that most college students know simply as “The Narnia Rap.”

With recognition of YouTube’s appeal, NBC has created its own channel on the website, with exclusive clips of shows such as “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” “The Office” and of course, none other than “Saturday Night Live.” In addition, NBC also launched a contest on YouTube, which allowed users to enter original 20-second videos to promote “The Office.” Since then, several other companies have followed suit, including Warner Brothers and Fox.

Video-sharing websites such as YouTube have been instrumental in creating the internet celebrity. According to Wikipedia, MTV star Andy Milonakis’s fame began with internet videos that he created with a home webcam. Milonakis’s popularity grew through ridiculous videos of freestyle rapping and funny spoofs, which eventually ended with his own show on MTV2, aptly named “The Andy Milonakis Show.” Now, as a user on YouTube, MTV2 regularly uploads videos from “The Andy Milonakis Show,” including one showing Milonakis biting through anything and everything after receiving a set of grills (jewel-encrusted teeth) from rapper/jeweler Paul Wall.

YouTube spawned another internet celebrity, Gary Brolsma, more commonly known as “the Numa Numa guy.” Brolsma created a home video of himself dancing and singing along to the Romanian pop song “Dragostea Din Tei” by O-Zone in 2004 that became widely watched on the internet. Although initially reluctant to embrace his newfound fame, Brolsma has evidently since come to terms with his celebrity. He recently released a “New Numa” video on YouTube to launch a contest in search of a new dancer to “Numa Numa” with a grand prize of $25,000.

Who knows who the next “Numa Numa” star will be, or who else YouTube will thrust into fame? The website’s popularity is undeniable, and will remain so as long as users keep clicking and watching.

Hannah Bae can be contacted at h.bae@umiami.edu.

September 26, 2006


The Miami Hurricane

Student newspaper at the University of Miami

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