In the time it’s taken you to read these 11 words, 45 minutes worth of video has just been uploaded to YouTube. And now another 45 minutes worth has been uploaded.
As of May 2009, 20 hours worth of video was being uploaded every minute of every day. You Tube now serves more than 1 billion video views every day.
Fun, games and causes
So what are all these videos? Are they all dancing babies, or dogs on skateboards, or cute things the kids just said? Are they all illegal uploads of music videos?
Sure, all those things are there, along with bad karaoke, amazing bicycle stunts, and clips from motorsports. YouTube can be pretty good fun.
But it also has its more serious side. Queen Rania of Jordan discusses issues around peace and poverty. NASA talks about scientific research in the Antarctic, and its explorations in space.
The NZ Salvation Army have their channel, with TV ads, good news stories and more. PracticalMacTips (disclaimer: that’s me) teaches you week by week how to use Macintosh computers. Yale University provides lectures and discussions on topics that shape the world.
Videos short and long
Videos may be only a few seconds long, filmed with a shaky cellphone, or 45 minutes or more, filmed with professional lighting and sound. All have an equal chance of being viewed and becoming popular.
Where only a few years ago creating a video involved huge expense, mountains of equipment, and a truckload of expertise, there is now effectively no barrier to anyone, anywhere, sharing their video with the world.
Of course the quality varies. Some videos are terribly poor: shaky footage, bad sound, awful lighting.
But if the world wants to see almost live footage of the latest tragedy, the firestorm, the campus shooting, the huge earthquake or tsunami, then viewers will throng to the video. We’d rather see 10 seconds of bad video within minutes of an event than wait a day to see professional coverage.
In fact, keep an eye on the TV News to spot YouTube footage being used in stories.
Can you be found on YouTube?
YouTube is enormously popular. Search Engine Watch tells us:
In August 2009, Americans watched 10 billion videos on YouTube. That same month, Americans conducted 9 billion searches on Google.
So, do you want to be found when someone conducts a search for a relevant term on Google? Of course you do.
But do you want to be found when someone looks for a relevant video on YouTube? You should.
There’s no reason to think that New Zealand or Australia, or any other population with decent Internet access and computers (or cellphones) is any different from America.
We take writing for granted
In the days before universal education and universal literacy not so many people could read or write. You would pay a scribe to write a letter on your behalf.
These days most of us have grown up reading and writing. While for some of us writing is hard, it’s still something that most of us take for granted and do automatically.
If we want to communicate with others, to tell them about our activities, to encourage them to participate in our events, we generally still turn to writing first, and perhaps exclusively.
We send e-mails, we put up posters, we put advertisements in a newspaper or magazine. Maybe we’ll include a photo to catch the eye.
Video is a new literacy
For decades many of us have been passive consumers of films and television. Now is the time to become literate in creating video. Now is the time to think of using video, perhaps before text.
We don’t need to spend thousands, or hundreds of thousands, or millions of dollars on creating television advertisements. We can spend a few seconds, a few minutes, or a day or two creating a video to upload to YouTube.
There must be many stories you could tell about your organisation. Start thinking about videos you could make. Could you show aspects of your program? Could you put a friendly face to your staff? Could you show off your location, or your latest event?
It really is time to start thinking video.
- Queen Rania of Jordan
- NASA Television
- Salvation Army
- Yale University
- Search Engine Watch, October 14, 2009, We Watch More YouTube Videos than We Conduct Google Searches
Written by Miraz Jordan for, and reproduced from CommunityNet Aotearoa Panui, November 2009. This article has been modified for publication here.