Friday, December 9, 2016

YouTube is our Culture: Digitized and Cataloged

I just watched YouTube's annual year-in-review video, "#YouTubeRewind", which compiles pop culture icons and fads of the past year. (See below). While I don't watch as many YouTube videos or stay on top of pop culture trends as much as I used to, I still recognize many of the references.
As I was watching, it got me thinking about how interesting it is that YouTube has become the de facto repository for the great majority of our culture.
Naturally music, videos, and other media is easily uploaded and shared on YouTube. However, even more interesting is how all of this is referenced and grown exponentially from, not just primary content creators, but by hundreds of incredibly popular cover artists, commentators, satirists, etc.
Of course, other social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter aid in the word-of-mouth circulation, but YouTube hosts most of the content. Second in visits, only to, over 1.3 billion YouTube viewers watch over 3.25 billion hours of videos per month.
In today's hyper-politicized climate, it is impossible not to look at how YouTube is contributing. Also like Facebook and Twitter, YouTube has become somewhat of an echo chamber for different ideologies. You can find innumerable supporters of every philosophical belief that present their case for support and the comments section may be even more polarizing than other social media sites.
I'm curious to see how, and if, YouTube chooses to address this. As visual evidence can be much stronger than written word, it has the potential to help bridge the gap and promote discussion across ideological lines. I won't hold my breath hoping that it will happen, but it will be interesting to see if it, or Google as a whole, chooses to engage in diffusing polarization of views... or remain neutral and just continue to spread the joy of cat videos.
Not a long post, but I thought the video was fun and wanted to highlight the evolution of YouTube from video-sharing website to a larger platform that is representative of our collective culture.