On April 23, 2005, Jawed Karim uploaded the first video to YouTube: Me at the zoo, with Karim explaining just how interesting the huge trunks of elephants are. The founders of YouTube had some idea of the potential of their creation, but nobody could have predicted the whirlwind speed at which it grew. The pace quickened even further once Google bought the site in 2006. YouTube has been among the top three visited sites in the world for many years now, with its billions of viewers and users uploading more than 300,000 new films each day. Many of the clips belong to new genres created by this new medium, such as vlogs and challenges. YouTube functions as a collective visual memory—the largest in human history. To browse this gigantic collection is to explore the obsessions and experiences of pretty much the entire population of the world. The algorithm that recommends further viewing can be thought of as a semi-sentient undertow of shared preferences that helps determine the direction of future visual media.
Chad Hurley, Steve Chen, Jawed Karim