All About You(Tube)

Time Magazine Cover

YouTube is an online video hosting site that allows users to view, upload and share videos on the web. You can not only view videos on YouTube, you can also easily embed YouTube video clips in your own website or blog.

Starting with a single video of a trip to the zoo in April 2005, YouTube now airs 100 million videos and its users add 70,000 more every day. (CNET, Nov. 2006)

What happened? YouTube’s creators had stumbled onto the intersection of three revolutions. First, the revolution in video production made possible by cheap camcorders and easy-to-use video software. Second, the social revolution that pundits and analysts have dubbed Web 2.0. It’s exemplified by sites like MySpace, Wikipedia, Flickr and Digg-hybrids that are useful Web tools but also thriving communities where people create and share information together. The more people use them, the better they work, and more people use them all the time……..The third revolution is a cultural one. Consumers are impatient with the mainstream media. The idea of a top-down culture, in which talking heads spoon-feed passive spectators ideas about what’s happening in the world, is over. People want unfiltered video from Iraq, Lebanon and Darfur-not from journalists who visit there but from soldiers who fight there and people who live and die there. The way blogs made regular folks into journalists, YouTube makes them into celebrities. (Lev Grossman – Time Magazine, Dec. 25, 2006).

You don’t need to set up an account to view most videos. Clips that viewers have flagged as “inappropriate for some users” do require that the viewer have an account and a declaration that the user is over 18. You must have an account to upload videos.

As with anything online, viewer beware – the content of the videos spans a wide spectrum of topics, tastes and quality – from frivolous to serious and everything in-between. There are old toothpaste commercials, clips from the Daily Show, Geraldo’s screaming match with Bill O’Reilly, tutorials on all types of subjects, and, lots of library-related stuff.

How It All Began

The first video was posted on YouTube on April 23, 2005 (“Me at the zoo“). By March 2006, the total number of clips available on YouTube reached 25 million and by the end of 2006, YouTube was selected as Time Magazine’s 2006 “Invention of the Year”. In November of last year, YouTube was purchased by Google for $1.65 billion dollars and is currently the fourth most-visited site on the Internet.

A Star is Born (or Flames Out)

Individuals sometimes become stars from their exposure on YouTube, developing a word-of-mouth fan base (some intentionally, some not). Bands, comedians, mash-up artists will often post all or part of a performance.

Others have gotten far more publicity via YouTube than they might have wished. It played a significant role in the 2006 defeat of Republican Senator George Allen due to a video clip of him making remarks deemed racist that was continuously replayed by YouTube viewers during the campaign.

Platform for change

Videos posted on YouTube have served to bring about social and political change – recent examples include a video (taken by a parent) of school bus barreling through crosswalk full of children, a student inappropriately detained in a college library, police brutality during arrests, elder abuse. YouTube has also become a player in political campaigns, with all major presidential candidates posting their own videos, and hoping not to get caught on someone else’s (ask George Allen). In this year’s presidential primaries both parties have held debates which aired on television and YouTube, in which candidates fielded questions submitted by YouTube users.


YouTube has a tabbed navigation menu at the top of every page — The tabs are: Videos, Categories, Channels and Community.

The homepage contains daily featured videos and “Videos being watched right now.” YouTube also has both text-based and (suprise) video help files. Here’s a short example:

YouTube employs many of the social networking components we’ve seen in other 2.0 sites. All videos have tags and users can comment on clips, either with text or with video responses. Each video you view is accompanied by a list of other videos with related tags or titles.

YouTube policy prohibits uploading any content that is copyrighted. All videos must be 10 minutes or less in length, and user guidelines prohibit porn or sexually explicit material, graphic or gratuitous violence, animal abuse, material designed for “shock” value, and hate speech. Clips which infringe on copyright protections or YouTube guidelines are removed. These community guidelines are primarily enforced through self-policing by YouTube users.


A channel is YouTube’s name for a user’s profile. A typical channel includes information about the user, the videos they’ve uploaded, the subscribers to their channel, and comments. Users can subscribe to channels and be notified when any new videos from that channel are uploaded. You can also subscribe to tags, as in del.ic.ious, and automatically get updates on new videos posted with your selected tags.


Playlists allow users to organize their favorites collection, give other users a grouped collection of similar kinds of videos, or to simply group related videos together. Playlists are an optional feature. You don’t need to create one to view videos.


Groups are another social networking feature of YouTube – similar to groups in LibraryThing – which allows users with similar interests to have discussions and share mulitple videos on specific topics. The “Groups” feature is also often used to hold video competitions and contests.

Here’s a sampling of some popular and/or library-themed videos:

It can be frustrating if not impossible to view video clips with a dial-up connection. If this is a problem, consider checking out one of the staff laptops. You’ll also need a sound card in your computer (you may want to use headphones if you’re viewing them at work. Each branch has a set — check with your branch manager if you want to use them).


YouTube – The Complete Profile (Rev2.org)

Digital Ethnography – The History of YouTube (Kansas State University)


  1. Try a search on “Love Your Library” or “Bookcart Drill Teams” – check out a couple of the clips you find
  2. Search for some videos on a topic of your choice
  3. See if you can find a video about KRL (hint: it’s a fishy topic)
  4. Write about your thoughts on YouTube in your blog and note your entry in the Tracking Log.


  1. Find a video you like and embed it in your blog.
  2. Find a library-related tutorial or video and put a link to it in your blog.

Coming Attractions

KRL productions is finishing work on its own premier tutorial — the scriptwriters’ strike and tough negotiations over the perks for the cast have delayed the final editing, but check back during the holiday bye weeks — it should be YouTube ready by then.

5 Responses

  1. Um, are we supposed to put something in the tracking log–I don’t see a tab/page–or are you just tracking this by blog entry. Just being a rule-following homework do-er and making sure we all get proper credit.

  2. Dear U.D.:

    Thanks for the reminder — a new tab for YouTube is now in the tracking log.


  3. The sampling of popular clips above are so great, now all I want to do is sit here and watch YouTube, and it’s after my bedtime. Hilarious!

  4. Perhaps we could compile a Staff Picks – YouTube Favorites – I’d certainly enjoy seeing what others have found.

  5. I just HAVE TO share a U Tube Video…

    It is named “Achmed the Dead Terrorist”.

    Who’da thunk terrorism could be funny?


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