The History of YouTube

Topic: The history of YouTube.

I believe that having a firm grasp of the origins and evolution of YouTube is crucial to our understanding of how it functions today. I will be looking back through the history of YouTube to try to identify when certain trends began appearing and how changes in policies or site layout influenced the way users interacted with the site. I will also be asking for the opinions of YouTubers as to what direction they see the site heading in the future, and what changes they would like to see made. I’m sure I’ll get some interesting answers.

Literature Review

As a class, we are creating a document describing in great detail the history of YouTube. There will be a link available when it is completed, and it will give a much richer account of YouTube’s history than I could give you here. Instead, I have concentrated my literature review on more general subjects such as video blogging and Web 2.0.

Since video blogs, or vlogs, are going to be our primary research topic on YouTube, I decided to look into the history of the vlog. The first vlogs, in the personal video diary sense, began appearing on the internet in late 2003, early 2004. Steve Garfield became the early face of the vlog and its chief proponent when he launched his video blog on January 1, 2004. As technology has advanced and continues to grow at an ever faster pace, vlogs have become a part of a larger movement on the Web and have contributed to the formation of Internet communities. When Mr. Garfield first spoke to the world from a chair behind his computer, a new buzz word was beginning to float around in the air to describe just what it was this new video blogging was a part of. The term Web 2.0 has been around for several years, but only now is it beginning to find its way into conversations of people who don’t deal with technology for a living. Web 2.0 emphasizes the role the user has in shaping his or her experience on the Internet. It stresses the interconnectivity between users and between different forms of content on the Web.

Increased connection speeds and online storage space has allowed Web 2.0 sites and software to reach an ever-growing number of people, and it has changed the way the average person uses the Internet. With technology still moving at a furious pace, what can we expect from the future? The consensus seems to be that Internet communities will continue to grow and expand, and that it might be difficult for a person to have a truly individual experience on the Internet, because it will become more and more clear that what we are seeing online is the result of a collective effort of a multitude of people. Individual desktop operating systems may also become irrelevant because the Web will be able to do everything your desktop OS can, and more.

Key Works

Kelly, Kevin

2005 We Are the Web. Wired, 13.08. Electronic document,, accessed March 13, 2007.

- Discusses how the Web is based on mass collaboration and is expanding and making connections where there were none before and becoming the ultimate machine ever created by human beings.

Kolbitsch, Josef, and Hermann Maurer

2006 The Growing Importance of eCommunities on the Web. Electronic document,, accessed March 14, 2007.

- A very clear overview of the current state of user-generated content websites on the Internet today, with an emphasis on how they allow users to become active members of an online community. At the end, the authors look to the future to predict how these communities will be affected by advances in technology.

Miliard, Mike

2005 I like to Watch: Video Blogging Ready for its Close-up. Boston Phoenix,
December 16-22 Issue. Electronic document,
asp, accessed March 14, 2007.

- Discusses the history of video blogging, naming Steve Garfield the “Vlogfather,” because of his early foray into vlogging and his tireless endorsement of video blogs. Discusses the many uses of vlogs, including political uses.

O’Reilly, Tim

2005 What is Web 2.0: Design Patterns and Business Models For the Next Generation
of Software. Electronic document,, accessed March 13 2007.

- Describes the evolution from Web 1.0 to Web 2.0. Explains what concepts are vital to Web 2.0, including such things as treating users as co-developers and designing software for “hackability” to promote growth and user-involvement in progress.