Wednesday, April 23 marked the ninth anniversary of YouTube’s inception. In those nine years, YouTube has grown from a niche website to an Internet video powerhouse.
On April 23, 2005, the Internet was a completely different place compared to the one we know today. The idea of social media was barely a blip on anyone’s radar. No one knew what a “viral video” was.
It’s fascinating, then, to look back at the very first video ever uploaded on YouTube. “Me at the zoo,” uploaded by YouTube co-founder Jawed Karim, is a 19-second clip of Karim standing in front of the elephant exhibit at the San Diego Zoo.
“The cool thing about these guys is that they have really, really, really long trunks,” Karim deadpans in the video. “And that’s pretty much all there is to say.”
Since it was uploaded, “Me at the zoo” has been viewed more than 14 million times, liked more than 130,000 times and disliked more than 7,000 times, according to mashable.com. These aren’t quite the numbers that a Miley Cyrus music video might pull, but are nonetheless impressive for a video showing such a mundane observation.
“YouTube is a game changer in terms of hosting content,” explains Bryan Bolan, Founder and Creative Director of b-Mc creative. “The infrastructure allows any type of video on any hosting platform to be accessed by almost any type of device. The abundance of platforms that video can be distributed to has widely increased over the past nine years, and YouTube was definitely what opened the gates for these videos to be viewed. However, the platforms for video hosting have widely increased over the past few years. Streaming capabilities have also increased in both quality and abundance, and this has probably served YouTube with the ability to be as successful as it has been.”
Since 2005, the video channel that gave Karim an outlet to observe elephants has become the home of viral classics like the double rainbow guy, “Charlie Bit My Finger” and Chris Crocker’s emotions regarding Britney Spears. Videos like these have become cultural calling cards, as familiar to us as a Saturday morning cartoon.
And now, in 2014, YouTube acts as an outlet for more creative content than ever before. According to Yahoo News, 100 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute. YouTube also boasts more than 4 billion views each day from around the world. YouTube’s community of users includes musical artists, comedians, celebrities and corporations — yet it also allows any ordinary person a level platform with which they can share their content.
The ways in which YouTube has affected our culture are undeniable. Here’s to another nine years.