YouTube is huge. It may not be making any money yet, but it can't be denied that the video hosting service is a bonafied cultural phenomenon. And not just in the U.S. The company announced on their blog today that they are now serving well over 1 billion views per day. That makes the website a worldwide obsession, not merely a national one.
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In the blog entry, CEO and co-founder Chad Hurley credited his site's enormous reach and (non-monetary) success to three "fundamental tenants". The first is that "speed matters", which means that videos need to load and play quickly in order to keep people's interest. The second is that "clip culture" is here to stay. By that, he means that the medium of small video clips/skits/promos and the like for entertainment and advertising purposes are not just a flash-in-the-pan idea.
The third and final tenant is the most interesting to me. "Open platforms open up possibility", which basically means that YouTube believes everyone should be able to upload a video including almost anything whenever they want it. The tenant included this interesting line, "Content creation isn't our business; it's yours."
That's innocuous enough on the surface, but could it be a reference to the flak YouTube has taken for not being diligent enough in removing copyrighted material? To me, this sounds like YouTube saying, "our users take responsibility for the content they add. Not us."
Rather than sounding like a cop-out, that makes an extraordinary amount of sense to me. The sheer volume of videos added every day is far, far in excess of what any company can be reasonably expected to monitor. YouTube can't be reasonably held accountable for everything put on their site. They've become too big for any sort of data policing to be close to 100% effective.