In the past decade, the internet has gone beyond being a platform for communication and the spreading of ideas, it has become a platform where people can create careers for themselves. Most notably, are the group of people who have become colloquially known as YouTubers, who produce weekly videos or “vlogs” which YouTube allows them to profit off of, based upon the showing of ads and number of views that each vlog receives. One thing which has always interested me about the internet is how this system came to be.
YouTube got its start in 2005, launched on Valentine’s Day by creators Chad Hurley, Steve Chen, and Jawed Karim, having experience with the World Wide Web as former PayPal employees. Karim claims that his idea for the site was inspired in 2004 by Janet Jackson’s costume malfunction at the Super Bowl half time show, and the devastating tsunami in the Indian Ocean. This is what its original beta site looked like when it was first launched in 2005!
The first video on YouTube was uploaded by one of its creators, Jawed Karim, and was entitled “Me at the Zoo”. It was only 19 seconds long, and featured Karim at the zoo standing in front of the elephants, talking about their trunks. If you wish to view this slightly uninteresting but still important piece of internet history, you can see it here!
YouTube very quickly took off, being one of the original online sites which allowed users to share their own video content online, for anyone on the internet to see. Along with funny home videos, it became a platform through which people could share their talents, such as their musical talents, as well as their ideas, through vlogs.
One of the most notable people who got their start from videos they posted on YouTube is Justin Bieber. The videos of him singing and playing guitar soon went viral, allowing him to be discovered by music producer Usher. Though he can’t really have been considered a YouTuber, he is an example of the power that YouTube had to make a career for someone.
In May of 2007, YouTube launched a partner program which allowed people to get paid for the video content they posted. The most successful vloggers, such as Jenna Marbles, John and Hank Green, and Tyler Oakley, were able to quit their day jobs, making six digit salaries from the videos they posted on YouTube. Many successful YouTubers were even able to take their careers beyond YouTube, being offered jobs by the BBC and MTV due to their online notoriety.
Today, every celebrity, musician and organization from Miley Cyrus to the Vatican has their own YouTube channel, which allows them to communicate their content online. YouTube has grown in a way that allows you to not only share your ideas or your talents on the internet, but even profit off of them.