The video above – Dr MIchael Wesch’s Anthropological Introduction to Youtube – has, at the point of writing, received over 112,000 views. It was uploaded just over a week ago. Not bad for a 55 minute video
The author has past form. A previous video of his – the Machine is us/ing us – has over 6.1m views.
As Dr Wesch mentions in the top video, the Machine is us/ing us grew exponentially in popularity. It spread through word of mouth and grew via Digg and del.icio.us. User generated filtering led to user generated distribution.
But how can the content rise to the fore? It helps that Dr Wesch produces captivating videos but as he points out, 9232 hours of video are uploading to Youtube per day. Six months of Youtube videos equate to sixty years of always on network TV content.
Blogs can of course promote user generated content. But Technorati tracks over 112m blogs. How can a blog rise to the fore?
This question is bubbling around my head at the moment, but I think it points to the continuing necessity of mass media. These may be traditional, but they can equally have spawned bottom up from the Internet.
There needs to be a guarantor of quality content out there (insert joke about quality of content on mainstream media at the moment). Both for people to consume, but more importantly it needs to exist to attract the talented people that create quality content.
Because in the current climate I’m not convinced that quality can naturally rise to the top. There is a good chance of it being sidelined by a Numa Numa or a Tay Zonday.
While The Machine is us/ing us beat the Superbowl adverts (average cost $3.6m) in popularity, what are the chances of these videos having as many views if they were released virally? They could potentially have been as successful and possibly more if the stars align in the right place, but I wouldn’t bet on it. The event, the television event, brought people together.
Mass media still has a future. It may not be perfect, but for me it is the best method for talent to reach an audience.