February 14, 2015

Happy 10th birthday, YouTube

YouTube launched 10 years ago today — February 14, 2005 — and I thought I would give it a little love by wishing it a happy birthday.

Why? Because not only do I use YouTube just about every day, I think YouTube embodies the original dreams and enthusiasm of the Internet and World Wide Web. Yes, the pre-video commercials are annoying and useless, as are the pop-up ads, and YouTube has been increasingly co-opted and whored for commercial purposes over the last five or six years. But it is still a treasure trove of information and entertainment, still a vehicle for the dissemination of all kinds of ideas, art, and history. It allows people like me to access things I could never access before. A lot of it, I assume, was already available online, but it was scattered across the Web. YouTube has become a centralized location for it all, akin to a world library.

For someone like me, who recorded many TV shows and songs on the radio as a kid, YouTube has been a dream. Thanks to YouTube, I have been able to watch episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000 that I had last seen when I was 11. I have listened to Essential Mixes that aired years before I discovered BBC Radio 1. I have seen different parts of the world thanks to the army of people who film their trips with dashcams.

Sure, YouTube probably has its number of detractors — namely media conglomerates — and a downside is that many uploads are copyright infringements. Perhaps there is even some kind of controversy I am unaware of (a connection to the NSA or another crazy but perhaps plausible accusation). But YouTube is an amazing thing and it has been a source of great enjoyment and discovery. I hope it continues to be for decades to come.