Youtube and the Flash-Bang Grenade Theory of Evolution

Nicolas Nova, who will be joining us at the Networked Publics Conference, points to a International Herald Tribute article on user generated content. (Recently, there was an article in the NYT on a similar topic.)

I’ll borrow Nicolas’ graph to give this post some umph..

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And here’s another one that Abe pointed me too — Youtube is getting traction in Usenet and the Boards, too.

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Why do I blog this? This is interesting to me mostly as a nice daily reportage on the sharing and circulation tendencies that resonate amongst digital networked publics. But, I am also interested in the way this particular sharing network is evolving as an “ecosystem.” You can see here in the graph (and in the discussions around the growth of this sharing network) the evolution of a form of cultural communication. I mean, it’s sharing, communicating — all the things that we understand software that foments sociability to be. You can see it right here, in a daily chart. It’s growing. It’s becoming a real, honest to god “ecosystem.” What can we say about that? About its evolution? I heard at etech that Youtube was served with court papers basically in preparation for it being sued. Several people there were really upset with Youtube for not handling copyrighted material in a way that would’ve mitigated attention from other people looking to sue. They fear that the lawsuit will damage the entire space (maybe like napster did?) — I tend to disagree somewhat. Eventually (and presently) some forms of media sharing are thriving. Photos, as Nicolas point out, but so, too, with “production quality” video (iTunes TV downloadds, for instance.) I think an emergent ecosystem like video sharing needs a kind of “flash bang” grenade to go off to startle the world. Like the big bang theory about how worlds are made. Sure..there’s chaos (lawsuits) and confusion (”what’s going on!? who’s ruining my business model!?”) and it may be difficult to fully-form things, but, you know, making new ecosystems and mechanics of sharing culture is hard work! To continue the flash-bang grenade metaphor to its logical, if insane conclusion, you need to stun a few unwitting participants before you take things over. Eww. Horrid metaphor, that..