Video sharing has irrevocably changed the way we get information and nothing has been left untouched.

Power To The People

The Arab Spring gave voice to the voiceless. Millions watched live as a man clambered out of a spaceship and hurtled, then floated, down towards earth. A generation of global celebrities has been born in their bedrooms, in front of their camera phones.

The pen may be mightier than the sword, but it loses hands-down to the selfie stick.

Thanks to the speed and democratising effect of the Internet, now more than ever we create, shape and change culture through video. Open platforms are the foundations for progress and positive social change. But what happens when freedom, pluralism and diversity, the very cornerstones of the digital age, are eroded?

…the same cycles that have defined modern capitalism are starting to chip away at the web, and this is no more apparent than in the distribution of online video content.

You could argue that the same cycles that have defined modern capitalism are starting to chip away at the web, and this is no more apparent than in the distribution of online video content. YouTube's Project Beacon focuses its funds and efforts on the top 1% of creators. It filters them through its Makers Studios, airbrushes them, injects product placement and sanitises their content, which is then seeded and distributed in preference to the 99%.

They choose which videos attract the largest viewing audiences, and therefore they play a part in controlling the cultural exchange that occurs on the platform. What began as ‘Broadcast Yourself’ has become ‘broadcast and promote the few’, especially those that can attract a substantial dollar value.

What began as ‘Broadcast Yourself’ has become ‘Promote The Few’, especially those that can attract a substantial dollar value.

This is a result of Google's overarching strategy to use YouTube to draw advertising revenue from TV. It's as bold and ingenious a strategy as one might expect from the world's most innovative company, but you get the feeling they left their 'don't be evil' caps in the drawer on this one. 

Whereas traditional TV and media is often a closed shop, the coming together of the web and video showed a perfect harmony of pluralism, open conversation and the free exchange of ideas – a Hadron Collider where billions of people with trillions of ideas can be smashed together.

The reality is that further down the road, a disappointingly 20###sup/sup### Century scenario could take shape. The freedom, variety and serendipity offered by the web could be constrained, leaving us with an industry controlled by a handful of complicit gatekeepers.

Progress demands the opposite.

Sign up to our newsletter. Culture, trends, forecasting, insights: Get a progressive point of view on the way we live.

Sign up