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What has Obama got in its pocketses?

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 21, 2016

Last week, after the State of the Union address, President Obama was interviewed by three prominent YouTube users. Oh, the outcry that arose! (Even though he did the same thing last year.) The President giving valuable country-running time over to mere social media stars, what has this country come to?

Well, it turns out if you get different kinds of people asking different kinds of questions, you’re going to get answers you normally wouldn’t hear. Case in point: Ingrid Nilsen was one of the three YouTubers chosen to interview the President. She asked him to talk about a meaningful item from his house and the President told a wonderful story about what he carries in his pockets every day:

Obama continues to be delightful and Nilsen might be my new favorite person after watching her YT channel for a bit this morning. I mean, just watch the first few minutes of this video where she came out to her viewers.

We Work Remotely

The best YouTube videos of 2015

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 09, 2015

This video is 20 minutes of the best YouTube footage from 2015 of extreme sports, marriage proposals, cute kids, funny animals, fast cars, groovy dancing, dronies, and more slow-motion GoPro footage than you could ever want to see in one lifetime. I’ve linked to a few of these videos, but generally my list of cool videos of the year would be a bit less X-TREEM. If you want to watch all 506 videos in the compilation, check out this playlist.

New cache of historical footage on YouTube

posted by Jason Kottke   Jul 23, 2015

The Associated Press and British Movietone are uploading 17,000 hours of archival news footage, some of dating back to the late 19th century. The videos can be found on the AP Archive and British Movietone channels. Some notable videos from the collection follow. Coverage of the Hindenberg disaster:

The celebration of VE Day in London:

Coco Chanel fashion show from 1932:

Martin Luther King Jr. and marchers being arrested in Selma:

See also British Pathe.

How YouTube changed the world

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 10, 2015

Burning a person alive is not a new act in warfare or intimidation. Far from it. So how did the gruesome burning of a Jordanian pilot become a incident that outraged the world and possibly altered a war? It was on video. Seeing a video changes everything. The existence of video footage can determine what leads the news, what drives public opinion, and what gets lodged in our memories. It can also determine who becomes a celebrity, who gets elected, which products we purchase, and confirm again and again the dominance of the once overlooked house-cat. Whoever controls the video controls the story. And since about 2005, the person who’s controlled the video has been you. You, the cat owner. You, the aspiring singer. You, the citizen journalist. And yes, you the terror group determined to intimidate and remain at the forefront of a global conversation. From The Telegraph: How YouTube Changed the World.

YouTube goes pro

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 09, 2014

There’s a good reason your cat looks so depressed. The days of her antics dominating YouTube are long gone. As the New Yorker’s Tad Friend explains, in addition to cats “YouTube was adults with camcorders shooting kids being adorably themselves. It was amateur hour.” Since then, YouTube has gone pro. Jeffrey Katzenberg predicts that “within five years, YouTube will be the biggest media platform of any, by far, in the entire world.” It’s where your kids are. It’s where the new stars are. And it’s where your cat isn’t. Welcome to the new Hollywood and Vine.

YouTube’s invisible standards

posted by Tim Carmody   Jul 30, 2014

Great essay by Paul Ford on the hidden infrastructure that makes most of your favorite user-created viral videos possible: 4’ by 8’ by 1/2” slabs of drywall, screwed into studs and painted beige.

The people dancing and talking and singing in beige rooms with 8’ ceilings are surrounded by standards, physically and online. Technological standards like HTML5 also allow us to view web pages and look at video over the Internet. All of their frolic is bounded by a set of conventions that are essentially invisible yet define our national physical and technological architecture. Their dancing, talking bodies are the only non-standardized things in the videos.

YouTube is the dominant force in music

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 01, 2013

This is a nice article about how memes are often made or promoted deliberately by financial interests and not because of a spontaneous popular uprising, but mostly I wanted to highlight this statement:

Google’s YouTube, not Apple’s iTunes, is now the dominant force in music.

I’ve been convinced for awhile now that YouTube and not Android or Google+ will be their main source of revenue if/when Google’s search business wanes. (via @claytoncubitt)

Watch full-length movies on YouTube

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 20, 2013

This Reddit group is collecting links to full-length movies and TV shows that are available on YouTube. Like this unauthorized copy of Django Unchained:

See if you can get through the whole thing before it gets taken down.

Update: David reminded me that you can actually watch full-length movies and TV shows on YouTube for a rental fee. (thx, david)

YouTube gun nut shot dead

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 11, 2013

Keith Ratliff posted dozens of videos showcasing high-powered guns on his popular YouTube channel, FPSRussia. Last week, he was found dead with a single shot to the head, surrounded by several guns…but not the gun that killed him.

The news, coming amid a national debate about gun control, rippled across the blogs and social networking sites where his videos were popular. Tributes on Facebook and Twitter came from fans stunned that such a well-armed expert had not been able to defend himself.

“For him not to pull out that gun and try to defend himself, he had to feel comfortable around somebody,” his wife, Amanda, told a television channel in Lexington, Ky., where he used to live. “Either that or he was ambushed.”

Here’s a FPSRussia video showing off a fully automatic shotgun that can shoot 300 rounds per minute even after being submerged in water:

And this drone with a machine gun on it is terrifying:

(via the atlantic)

Update: Just to clarify because I’m getting a bunch of mail about it, Ratliff was a gun nut and the owner of that YouTube channel, but he was not the person in all those videos…he was more like the producer/camera operator.

Also, that quadricopter machine gun thing is CGI and a commercial for a video game. Soon enough though.

YouTube founders acquire Delicious

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 27, 2011

AVOS, a new internet company founded by YouTube founders Chad Hurley and Steve Chen, has acquired the social bookmarking service Delicious from Yahoo!

Why has Yahoo! chosen to transition Delicious to AVOS?
While we love Delicious (and our users love Delicious), we wanted to find a home for the product where it can receive more love and attention. We think AVOS is that place.

When will AVOS officially start running Delicious?
We anticipate Delicious in its current form will be available until approximately July 2011. By agreeing to AVOS’s terms of service upfront, you will allow us to move your data when the time comes to transfer control to AVOS.

Delicious founder Josh Schachter reacted to the news on Twitter, saying:

inbox asplode!

YouTube Time Machine

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 09, 2010

You give it a year and YouTube Time Machine will show you videos of events from that year. For instance: 1894, 1943, and 1991. A super idea. (thx, alice)

Viacom vs. YouTube

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 22, 2010

In defending itself against a copyright lawsuit brought by Viacom, YouTube notes that the media company has been surreptitiously uploading its copyrighted content to YouTube for years.

For years, Viacom continuously and secretly uploaded its content to YouTube, even while publicly complaining about its presence there. It hired no fewer than 18 different marketing agencies to upload its content to the site. It deliberately “roughed up” the videos to make them look stolen or leaked. It opened YouTube accounts using phony email addresses. It even sent employees to Kinko’s to upload clips from computers that couldn’t be traced to Viacom. And in an effort to promote its own shows, as a matter of company policy Viacom routinely left up clips from shows that had been uploaded to YouTube by ordinary users. Executives as high up as the president of Comedy Central and the head of MTV Networks felt “very strongly” that clips from shows like The Daily Show and The Colbert Report should remain on YouTube.

This jibes with what I heard a couple of years ago:

I heard that the staff of the Daily Show and Colbert Report upload the shows to YouTube as soon as they can after the shows air and then the next day, lawyers from Comedy Central hit YouTube with takedown requests for the uploaded shows.

(thx, @peretti)

Cory Arcangel’s atonal YouTube cat video mashup

posted by Jason Kottke   Jul 28, 2009

Drei Klavierstücke op. 11 is a set of pieces written for the piano by Arnold Schoenberg in 1909, some of the first western music to written in an atonal style. Cory Arcangel took a bunch of YouTube videos of cats playing the piano and fused them together into a performance of op. 11.

This project fuses a few different things I have been interested in lately, mainly “cats”, copy & paste net junk, and youtube’s tendency in the past few years to host videos that are as good and many times similar to my favorite video artworks. I think all this is somehow related.

Cory’s no-bullshit statements about his art are just as entertaining as the work itself:

So, I probably made this video the most backwards and bone headed way possible, but I am a hacker in the traditional definition of someone who glues together ugly code and not a programmer. For this project I used some programs to help me save time in finding the right cats. Anyway, first I downloaded every video of a cat playing piano I could find on Youtube. I ended up with about 170 videos…

You can catch Cory’s project in-person at Team Gallery in NYC and at Kunsthaus Graz in Austria.

Josh Poehlein

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 10, 2009

Josh Poehlein’s Modern History project takes screen grabs from YouTube videos and assembles them into collages.

Josh Poehlein

These are wonderful. And he’s giving them away.

I am offering large printable files to anyone interested at no cost. Computer files are the most easily reproducible information on the planet. In this particular case I see no reason to imbue a false sense of preciousness on the work. The information I gathered to create the collages is publicly availaibe, and the collages themselves are no different.

(via conscientious)

YouTube, remixed

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 05, 2009

Thru You is a site that showcases remixed YouTube videos…the singing from one video combined with the drums from another and the piano from a third and so on. I was skeptical but these are really well done. Do I even need to say that this reminds me of Christian Marclay’s Video Quartet? (via sfj)

Bernstein conducts Shostakovich with YouTube vocals

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 14, 2009

Leonard Bernstein conducts Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 5 while comments from YouTube commenters are read. (via the rest is noise)

Obama’s fireside chats on YouTube

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 17, 2008

Aha, Obama will be doing online fireside chats, but in video format on YouTube.

Online political observers say President-elect Obama’s innovative, online-fueled campaign will likely evolve into a new level of online communication between the public and the White House — the Internet-era version of President Franklin Roosevelt’s famous “fireside chats” between 1933 and 1944.

Here’s Obama’s first video address as President-Elect. His transition team, potential cabinet members, and other experts will also be recording videos in the coming weeks.

High quality YouTube video hack

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 13, 2008

You may have noticed that the video of Burn-E I embedded looked a bit better than a normal YouTube video. YouTube has been quietly offering high-quality versions of some of their videos for quite some time via a “watch in high quality” link just underneath the player. It’s not HD, but it’s definitely an upgrade of YouTube’s legendarily crappy video quality. By default all videos on YouTube and embedded on other sites load at normal quality, but there’s a way to set your default viewing quality to high, link to high quality video, embed HQ video, and even save HQ videos for later viewing.

Set your default viewing quality to high:
When you’re logged in, go to Account / Playback Setup / Video Playback Quality and set the option to “I have a fast connection. Always play higher-quality video when it’s available.”

Linking to YouTube videos in high quality:
If you need to link to a high quality video on your blog, append &fmt=18 onto the end of the YouTube URL, like so:


Upon arriving at the YouTube page, you’ll see the highest quality video that YouTube pushes out. The full technical details are available here…basically it’s a mp4 encoded using H.264 with stereo AAC sound at 480x360.

Embedding high quality YouTube videos:
The &fmt=18 trick doesn’t work here, but a similar trick does. For each of the URLs in the embeddable code that you get from YouTube, add &ap=%2526fmt%3D18 onto the end, like so:

<object width=”425” height=”344”><param name=”movie” value=”http://www.youtube.com/v/MuqiGrWBRqE&hl=en&fs=1 &ap=%2526fmt%3D18“></param><param name=”allowFullScreen” value=”true”></param><param name=”allowscriptaccess” value=”always”></param><embed src=”http://www.youtube.com/v/MuqiGrWBRqE&hl=en&fs=1&ap=%2526fmt%3D18” type=”application/x-shockwave-flash” allowscriptaccess=”always” allowfullscreen=”true” width=”425” height=”344”></embed></object>

Saving high quality YouTube videos:
When you’re viewing a high quality video on YouTube, you can use the KeepVid bookmarklet to download the mp4 file for later viewing on your computer, iPod, or iPhone. I tested this with the Burn-E video and the resulting mp4 was in letterbox format (480x198, or roughly the standard 2.40:1 aspect ratio).

BTW, here’s a comparison of the low and high quality for the same video.

Low quality:

High quality:

Sources: Yahoo! Tech, jimmyr.com, My Digital Life.

Update: I switched the example videos and code because YouTube took the Burn-E video down.

Update: I got an email from a YouTube engineer who tells me that format 18 isn’t even the highest quality you can get. Check out Dancing Matt in format 22, aka 720p. Furthermore, some videos don’t have a format 18 version (if the uploaded movie doesn’t have sufficient quality, for instance). (thx, phil)

Meta YouTube art

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 03, 2008

A collection of meta YouTube video art.

YouTube video turned into game

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 25, 2008

Someone has turned a YouTube video into a rudimentary game using the annotation feature.

You get to the “next level” by clicking annotations, which loads the next video. If you want to cheat ahead, all of the videos are available here.

Update: Andy points out that this YouTube text adventure game predates the game above.

James Danziger on the photographs of the

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 15, 2008

James Danziger on the photographs of the Florida teens accused of beating a classmate and filming it for YouTube.

The pictures of the accused are startling in the banality of the faces. (While the spelling of many of the names — April, Britney, Brittini, Cara, Kayla, Mercades, Stephen, Zachary bring to mind a revived Mouseketeers.) A number of the girls look surprisingly similar, but minus the prison garb, they could just as easily be reacting to a berating for poor schoolwork. The boys, who were posted as lookouts while the girls carried out the beating, look a little more ready for jail.

The pictures are fascinating in the narrow range of emotion they convey, from self-pity to sullenness, but to my mind all stop before genuine contriteness. (I’m reading this in, of course, but I have a hunch I’m right.) Yet there’s an all-American look to these kids that can only remind us how narrow the line is between good and evil.

The original photos are here.

Uncomfortable Goggle-Eyed Staring Silence Plus Finger Gesture Oddness Meme

posted by Choire Sicha   Jan 17, 2008

While you were having a life, this was taking place quite rapidly on the tubenets.

I may or may not be headed

posted by Choire Sicha   Jan 16, 2008

I may or may not be headed out to South Carolina this weekend—their Democratic primary takes place on January 26th—and the new way of learning about places before ya go is YouTube tourism. Apparently there is a lot of hunting (yikes!), fishing, and drag queens in blackface (double yikes). And then, on a much more serious note, there’s this short video of “Jared trying to live it up a few days before being sent to basic training at Fort Jackson, SC.” It’s posted a woman who wrote that “I am twenty years old..believe it or not. I am missing my husband terribly. He is at basic training in Fort Jackson, SC. He will be graduating in March. I can’t wait!”

I have finally found the guy I

posted by Choire Sicha   Jan 15, 2008

I have finally found the guy I want to marry. Seriously, this is my favorite YouTube video right now, and I’m not even sure that I can explain why. Something about the soft color, and the quiet. And he’s so sensitive. (I sure hope he’s 18 or older or I’m gonna feel real bad inside.)

Wow, Vimeo has videos in HD…the

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 12, 2007

Wow, Vimeo has videos in HD…the best quality I’ve seen from one of the big video sites. You get so used to watching crappy quality stuff on YouTube that you forget how nice it can look.

Congrats to the Vimeo team on the

posted by Jason Kottke   Jun 27, 2007

Congrats to the Vimeo team on the launch of the latest version of the site. Here’s the announcement post. The login/signup page is awesome. I also like how Vimeo has found room in the crowded video-on-the-web field, even though YouTube dominates the space. Vimeo is to YouTube as Facebook is to MySpace…not in terms of closed versus open (you do know that Facebook is AOL 2.0, right?) but in terms of being a bit more well thought out and not as, well, ugly (and not just in the aesthetic sense).

Regarding the recent Google news (YouTube, DoubleClick,

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 16, 2007

Regarding the recent Google news (YouTube, DoubleClick, Dodgeball), Fred Wilson tells us it’s time to pour a little malt liquor on the ground and say goodbye to the old Google, the Google that we all know and love, and welcome the new Google, a big company, for better or worse. “Google’s lawyers are going to become their most important asset and when lawyers are more important than engineers to a company, you lose.”

Public and permanent

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 21, 2007

Marc Hedlund, founder of the intriguing Wesabe, recently made this interesting observation:

One of my favorite business model suggestions for entrepreneurs is, find an old UNIX command that hasn’t yet been implemented on the web, and fix that. talk and finger became ICQ, LISTSERV became Yahoo! Groups, ls became (the original) Yahoo!, find and grep became Google, rn became Bloglines, pine became Gmail, mount is becoming S3, and bash is becoming Yahoo! Pipes. I didn’t get until tonight that Twitter is wall for the web. I love that.

A slightly related way of thinking about how to choose web projects is to take something that everyone does with their friends and make it public and permanent. (Permanent as in permalinked.) Examples:

Not that this approach leads naturally to success. Several companies are exploring music sharing (and musical opinion sharing), but no one’s gotten it just right yet, due in no small measure to the rights issues around much recorded music.

Creators vs. lawyers

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 30, 2007

Here’s a fun rumor. I heard that the staff of the Daily Show and Colbert Report upload the shows to YouTube as soon as they can after the shows air and then the next day, lawyers from Comedy Central hit YouTube with takedown requests for the uploaded shows. Which makes total sense…sort of. The people making the shows want them to be seen while the lawyers want to ensure that people are paying to see them. It’s a crazy media world we live in.

Nasty Nets used CSS positioning to “embed”

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 29, 2007

Nasty Nets used CSS positioning to “embed” one YouTube video into another. “Be sure to hit ‘play’ on both YouTubes.” Reminds me of the animated GIF mashups (more).