At present, I am watching an Internet clip show on a geek-centric television network called G4. By my count, it is one of at least three popular television shows that use internet video either as the central component of the show or a major complementary element.
This would seem like the least likely outcome of the technology that made Internet video possible. If you had known in 2003 that YouTube would exist in its current form, you almost certainly would not have anticipated that a series of TV networks would devote programming to the hosted broadcast of YouTube content and be successful at it.
Internet video — in this context meaning user-created and Internet-hosted — has actually made televised video more popular.
What this proves (and what nobody seems willing to realize) is that the Internet is not nearly as convenient a device as we all think it is.
Now, this is not me ripping the Internet, which is indisputably amazing. It is fantastic for certain things:
1) Instantaneous communication
2) Free expression
3) Intellectual larceny
4) Storage of information
Most of what people like about the Internet falls under at least one, usually two, of those categories. Most of what people hate about the Internet falls into at least one, usually two, of those categories.
But — and here’s the thing people never talk about — the Internet is not (always) convenient. There are many things we use the Internet for that it is not best equipped to execute.
For example, let’s say you want to know as much as you can about what’s happening in your city and you have 11 minutes to learn it. Your best bet, by far, is to pick up your daily newspaper.
All of that same information is available on the Internet, but it is going to take you twice as long to consume it all, even if you go to that very newspaper’s Web site, where you invariably will spend a good deal of your 11 minutes clicking around, canceling out pop-up ads and misunderstanding hyperlinks.
You will end up reading most likely a third the number of stories and you will probably just update your Facebook status.
For another example, let’s say you want to watch some viral videos. You could go to any number of Web sites that attempt to aggregate that kind of content, or you could go straight to YouTube. But you will end up wasting a lot of time on links that don’t interest you. The very thing that makes that content possible (total freedom of expression) is what makes it awful; because anybody can contribute, it is saturated with garbage.
Or you could just watch a TV show, produced by professionals who understand what makes good TV, hosted by a professional who adds to the experience, and filtered by living humans with functional garbage filters.
The best way to watch YouTube is to simply watch the tube.