Friday, January 27, 2012


"The Beast with a Billion Eyes," by Lev Grossman (Time, January 30, 2012, pp.39-43)

Grossman includes all the numbers, but here's the gist: "More video is uploaded to YouTube every month than has been broadcasted by the three big TV networks in the past 60 years."* However, the average viewer stays there only about 15 minutes, versus an average of 3 hours of watching television. With TV, we know what's on -- roughly -- and where to look for it. While YouTube has "channels," most people don't use them like TV channels (though they are working to change that). Grossman explains the challenges of searching such a massive universe, even alluding to the problems of using natural language to tag/catalog things: sometimes people mark their videos with a description, but often they "call it 'LOLOLOLOL this thing is amazeballs!!!!!!!'"

One of the ways YouTube staff hope to improve channels is by introducing TV-network like channels with known stars and brands (Jay-Z, Amy Poehler, Disney). Yet current viewer habits put the amateur (semi-pro?) on top: the former hedge-fund manager Salman Khan and his math problems; teen character Fred and his 2.4 million followers - which Grossman compares to The Cartoon Network's mere 53,000. Some observations from public library land: maybe younger people watch Cartoon Network on YouTube, but don't subscribe to anything. Maybe it's more sophisticated high schoolers and 20-somethings actually subscribe to stuff. 

Grossman concludes that whatever changes YouTube makes, it's likely that the massive site will remain quirky: "What Nyan Cat [hyperlink added] tells us is that when you put amateurs in charge of broadcast media, odd things happen, and that's what YouTube does."

 their link for more:

*Note: Google-owned Blogger know that Google-owned YouTube is spelled correctly, but has given me the squiggly lines under "Grossman."
P.S. I am about to get lost in the land of meta nyan. . . . Must. Put. Down. Keyboard.