Sunday, March 30, 2008

Channel Surfing the Earth

In my last post wrote that if an alien were monitoring photos of what humans thought was important in our lives using flickrvision, they might feel we were a species worthy of survival; on the other hand, if they were monitoring our video posting on YouTube, they just might blow the planet up.

I may have spoken too soon. When I think of YouTube these days, I think of people uploading clips of dogs humping, people throwing up (and worse), the snips of nudity from TV shows and movies, and vloggers spouting inane comments on other's vlogs. It doesn't bode well for humanity if this is what we choose to watch.

And this remains true, but these are only the clips that have snowballed and broken through the noise. They are the clips that get forwarded and bookmarked and commented on, in the same way chain letters and urban legends get passed around. These are the most viewed, most commented, most "favorited" videos.

The ever-updated "Videos being watched right now" area on the YouTube homepage gives obscure videos slightly more attention, but still tends to reinforce the most popular videos.

Spinvision is different. Also created by David Troy, it is essentially the same as flickrvision, only it shows any video that was uploaded to YouTube that same day, visualized as springing up from random locations on the globe. While the user base for Flickr tends to be English-speaking countries, Spinvision pulls from YouTube, which has a more global user base, so these videos are even more likely to show you what is going on in non-English speaking countries.

YouTube also seems to attract a younger audience than Flickr. Older folks invest in expensive cameras that take photos worthy of uploading to Flickr. Younger folks (and 30-40 year olds with kids) are the ones likely to post videos to YouTube that they took on their webcam or mobile phone.

So when viewed via spinvision, YouTube as a whole is slightly more tame than it's most popular videos, though at the same time, more quirky. Below are three clips from Japan, Portugal, and Romania that popped up in the last hour. After viewing, aliens might not want to blow us up, but they might want to collect us as oddities for their traveling zoo.

After all, how else would I have found that video at the top of this post? It only had 20 views and was uploaded a few hours ago. I do not know if "8uma" is just shy, really likes horses (uma is Japanese for horse), is doing a cover of a popular Japanese song called "First Love," or is performing an original composition for his girlfriend who really likes horses. I just want to know where he found that mask! This video's only English tag is "uma," the rest are japanese for horse, guitar, world, music. So unless there are Uma Thurman fans out there who accidentally stumble upon this while searching for video of her latest movie, there is no way this video is going to get the worldwide recognition it so clearly deserves.

I love the Edwin Hawkins Singer's song "Oh Happy Day," it makes me feel, well, happy. To hear it being performed by a Portuguese choir makes me even happier.

Everyone loves breakdancing, even Romanian kids.

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