The 15 Most Important Technologies of the Last 15 Years – #7: YouTube

Video had been part of the Internet virtually since it went mainstream in the mid 1990’s. Of course, since dial-up was the cutting-edge technology of the time, video was more of a novelty than a full-fledged citizen of the Information Superhighway. As high-speed Internet became a reality, video started to become more and more of a feature of online life. However, the only people and companies using it were those with an advanced knowledge of the technology required to make video work online and with the resources to run servers that could handle the fairly heavy needs of a video stream.

Twelve years ago YouTube changed all that. Suddenly, anyone with a video camera (and later a smartphone) could upload and publish their videos for all the world to see. In about a year YouTube was one of the fastest growing sites on the Web. Google recognized the enormous potential of video sharing and purchased YouTube only about a year and a half after the first video was uploaded. Today, YouTube is the third most visited site on the Internet after Google and Facebook. By providing a centralized platform for anyone to upload and share videos, YouTube changed how we consume content online and also what kind of content we see. By democratizing video sharing, YouTube nearly singlehandedly created the viral video phenomenon and has made stars out of ordinary people. Besides pure entertainment, people today use YouTube to learn how to fix things, how to apply makeup, how to make crafts, and just about anything they need to know. The scale that YouTube has made video accessible to us all is hard to fathom, which is why it is one of the most important technologies of the last fifteen years.

How big a part of your Internet experience is YouTube? Have you shared videos on YouTube? Comment below!