Watching video online is mainstream at this point: more than 145 million U.S. web users watched 13 million videos in February, according to ComScore. While most of the videos watched on sites like YouTube are amateur, there is new movement from YouTube to get more professionally-made content on the site and increase overall video quality (NY Times):
“YouTube draws about 100 million visitors each month, making it an enormous stage for media companies. But many television outlets have been reluctant to share videos with the site. Along with CBS, notable exceptions include ABC’s late-night program ‘Jimmy Kimmel Live,’ which has harnessed YouTube to great effect, drawing 11 million views for its videos in the last month. ‘Consider this your oasis in a desert of skateboarding dogs and popcorn-eating hamsters,’ a message on Mr. Kimmel’s YouTube channel says.
“With deals like the one with ABC, YouTube is working hard to revise that user-generated reputation. ‘They need the money,’ Mr. Vorhaus said of YouTube, and adding professional video is ‘how they’re going to get it.’”
President Obama has clearly taken advantage of an audience hungry for more quality video. During his campaign, his team uploaded over 1,800 videos to BarackObama.com; he now he has an entire staff dedicated to new media (NY Times). As expected, President Obama’s videos are always professionally shot and edited, contributing to his overall polished and “cool” image. He is setting the example of how to present yourself in a public forum, when the video will live on forever. People have become too casual in how they present themselves online, whether it be Facebook, YouTube or Twitter. We have all become public figures in this online world. No longer is it just celebrities that get ridiculed for ignorant behavior displayed in public: we are now inviting it on ourselves by not thinking before posting. The New York Times theorizes a movement toward more cautious behavior from public figures:
“We tend to assume that the proliferation of digital media must be coarsening American speech and behavior. In fact, the opposite seems to be true. The threat posed by video parodists appears to have turned public figures watchful and cautious, like people who affect polite reserve in crowds for fear of being mocked or mugged. In the midst of so much digital chicanery, celebrity comportment may grow steadily more formal.”
As with most trends, this behavior should eventually trickle down to the general public. I am hopeful that it trickles quickly.