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Picture yourself on a relaxing Sunday night, wine in hand, you’re just done enjoying and watching a vlog on YouTube. Then it dawned on you. What is the first Youtube video? What does it mean to the world now? These are legitimate questions, especially that I consider the first video, a slice of history. Certainly one of the most important online videos of all-time. Who wouldn’t? With a massive 2 billion monthly users, it certainly is an impressive achievement for YouTube from the first video. Albeit, the creators didn’t think it would go this far.
Enough about YouTube’s past as a company. This blog is not what it’s for and there are certainly enough blogs online that can give you information about that. We are here to talk about the first-ever uploaded video on YouTube and its significance in today’s society.
The first video titled “Me at the zoo” was uploaded by on April 23, 2005 , by username Jawed (Jawed Karim), one of YouTube’s co-founder. The 18-second video was nothing more than a typical home-video of a person visiting the zoo. In particular, it was a video of Jawed standing and speaking in front of elephants in the San Diego Zoo, ala Sir David Attenborough.
The transcript reads “All right, so here we are in front of the, uh, elephants, and the cool thing about these guys is that is that they have really, really, really long, um, trunks, and that’s, that’s cool, and that’s pretty much all there is to say.”
Nothing special. Low production. Only 18 seconds long. But what most people don’t see is, it is a pivotal piece of history. It was the start of what would be the planet’s largest online video community. It represented so much potential to the creators and its users that Google acquired the company a year later in 2006. So much potential, in fact, that even with Jawed Karim’s role as a minor co-founder, he still received 137,443 shares of stock. Valued at $64M based on Google’s 2006 stock price.
Where does the video stand now? It’s one of the most viewed videos even in 2020. Currently, it has 85,956,854 views and a whopping 4,665,764 comments. One user even writes, “why are there comments every second?”. It has become an ad-hoc hub of some sorts where users gather together. The comment section is littered with links promoting something. A un-official billboard to advertise your stuff on YouTube.
Of course, with a popular video like that, it was not immune to vandalism. The video attracts so much beneficial user traffic, it was hacked in 2019. The description merely changed with a petty sub4sub motive. People are describing it as a sacrilegious act towards a piece of internet history. I totally agree. It was an utter desecration of something as important as the first tv broadcast. A heinous crime to humanity and its achievements.
However, let’s go back to what the video stands for now in today’s culture. It became the blueprint of today’s vlogs . The kind you might enjoy watching on a Sunday night, sipping wine. It has empowered users to become publishers of their own content. Gone are the days where you need to go to traditional media like newspapers, tv, and radio to publish your own content. It represents the essence of YouTubers and vlogs today. Of course, YouTubers now have stepped up with fancy studios, expensive cameras, and lighting equipment.
Me at the zoo still, embodies what a vlog should be. Raw, easily consumable, unpretentious documentation of everyday life. And if used intelligently, it can be a strategic marketing tool. In fact, businesses use vlogs to market their products. It has transcended from personal to commercial use.
In regards to official recognition, I at the zoo has received other titles. It is ranked by both The New York Observer and Business Insider as “The Most Important YouTube Video of All-Time” . Also, according to Wikipedia, it was dubbed by Buzzfeed New as one of the Top 20 Most Important Videos of All Time. Certainly a hallmark of human achievement.