Happy 5th Birthday Youtube!

How far could social media go in 5 years? Dug out this 2005 issue of Businessweek today when I was cleaning the house. At that time, blogs were something new to watch out for; online video sites like Youtube had just been born on the web, and they did not even make the cover.

Today is Youtube’s five year anniversary, a lot of celebration is going on all over the web for this historic milestone in the social media era. It was amazing how quick the growth of social media was, and it was accelerated by the development of emerging communication technologies. And in the short time since social media has hit the mainstream, several brands have quickly established themselves as leaders in their respective categories: Facebook dominates social networking, while Youtube has been crowned the absolute destination for people to share online videos. I have also seen people commemorating this day by reviewing many “firsts” within Youtube: the first Youtube video to be uploaded, the first commenters on Youtube, and all sorts of other remarkable Youtube videos being dug out and marveled in this special day.

With what it has achieved in the past, Youtube is ambitiously transforming itself from being an incubator and host of seconds-long amateur videos, to being the hub of future web TV by trying to host more professional and also monetizable video content. I previously wrote a post about this topic when Youtube announced several months ago its new expansion plan to host more professional video content.

For a generation growing up on the web, the line between watching video content hosted on TVs and content hosted on web platforms have been quite blurred. Like most of my peers, I get my daily dose of video content, amateur or professional, online.  My professor Zach has also disabled his cable subscription after he got used to watching all his desired TV shows on Hulu. As long as Youtube can tackle copyright issues and find a way to live with professional content producers, I am positive it will have a bright future to be everyone’s new TV in coming years. Especially given that its parent company Google has ambitions and has taken action to bring the web to traditional TV boxes, Youtube will almost surely be the platform that will bridge computers and TV sets.

For example, Financial Times yesterday just reported that Google, Intel and Sony were going to work together to bring “a significant breakthrough into consumer electronics and the broadcast industry this week with the launch of a “Smart TV” platform.” On the wings of this irreversible  web invasion of the television, Youtube, while absorbing all the traditional TV content into its platform, can now build a path to the TV box and become the most popular channel there!

Youtube has been one of the most important inventions on the web in the 21st century, and the changes Youtube have brought to the web and to our lives are truly revolutionary. It smashed the distance and power hierarchy in video production, and it has turned video into a new global language that everybody could use to speak to each other. While Youtube has unleashed the power from professional storytellers to the crowd, it has brought even more opportunities to the professional storytellers for years to come.

And finally, I want to use director Jon M. Chu’s story with Youtube to end this post. Jon’s story is about how a professional storyteller took the challenges and opportunities brought by Youtube, and invited Miley Cyrus and people all over the world to speak the same language about dance on this new platform. It is a one of the many great stories happening on Youtube everyday, and makes me confident that Youtube will see even greater success in the next five years.

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LeBron James: Did you hear the Twitter-powered “New York Knicks” chants?

Elsa/Getty Images

I just finished watching an NBA playoffs game between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics! One thing that is pretty hilarious is that every time LeBron James was trying to shot free throws, the Celtics crowd would chant “New York Knicks” to distract him. Basketball crowds usually make noises to distract players on the opposite team, but this time, there is so much media attention about Lebron James potentially going to New York to play for the Knicks this summer. For example, this week New York Magazine published several articles discussing why Lebron should go to New York, interviewed celebrities with quotes to encourage Lebron, and even talked to real estate agents who have found potential apartments and homes for Lebron.

The “New York Knicks” chant was a great way to try to distract him, and the best part was that these chants were coordinated by an ESPN writer, Bill Simmons, who created a new Twitter account this week to tell Boston Celtics fans at the game what to chant. Hilarious!

Kudos to Bill Simmons ‘s creative use of Twitter’s real time communications power, and I look forward to seeing more creative uses of social media in the future!

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Johnnie Walker…Keep Walking

I ran across this video on this post-final Saturday morning, and I think it demonstrates a classic way to tell the story of your brand. During the 5-minute video, I was filled with suspense and totally pulled into the misty Scottish highlands by the compelling string music and the single camera tracking shot. I really felt like I was there, taking a walk with Robert Carlisle the whole time…how about you?

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“I’ve successfully privatized world peace!”

“I’ve successfully privatized world peace!” Yes, Iron Man is back, and this time, the responsibilities on his shoulder seems to be bigger, world peace…okay, but he is still the guy, if given the chance to do what he wants…with who he wants, what would he do? I am not gonna spoil the movie for you, go watch it yourself, but I have to say, tonight for me was such a satisfying experience and even thought I lowered my expectations before I walked into the movie theater because of so-so reviews…it totally proved that this experience should not be discounted even for a bit from the first movie. Tony Stark hasn’t changed, he is still the fun, debonair, confident (arrogant) guy that lifts the world on his finger tip, and has super powers perfectly embedded in to his flawed character…but he still enjoys life. He is a total bad-ass and a love-him or hate-him kind of guy in the movie. Among all the Sci-Fi and comic book heroes, Iron Man is my absolute favorite. Spider Man is too nerdy and Batman is all about justice, Superman? I never understood how a pair of glasses can serve as an effective disguise…Incredible Hulk…he makes me feel tragic by simply looking at him…Iron Man is an eccentric even among these supernatural (abnormal) heroes, he is actually…fun, enjoys his powers and always gets things done in a light-hearted way. He is not larger than life, he is just a human, always is.

I also noticed that every time I love a show, I love every character in it, even the villains… this applies to Iran Man 2 of course…and also applies to Ugly Betty, Modern Family, Star Trek…so you really can’t ask me which one is my favorite character, I truly love all of them.

For Iron Man fans, here is a neat augmented reality app you should try. Put yourself in Iron Man’s suit and helmets, the only drawback is that you gotta download the widget…which takes a minute… Christopher, thanks for sharing!

Also, just to add to the continued super hero theme, I want to share a great post from Wired. I always hate to just take other people’s post and paste it in my blog, even given the attribute and trackback, but this one is just so fantastic and fits so well in this Iron Man post, I could not help it, so, please, enjoy:

The G-Men
Sergey Brin and Larry Page, presidents of Google
Net worth:
$35 billion (combined)
By night:
Search out evildoers and banish them to a secret data center in a fake volcano.
“You feeling lucky? Well, are you, punk?”

The Kindler
Jeff Bezos, chair and CEO of Amazon.com
Net worth:
$12.3 billion
By night:
By-the-book hero has a patented one-punch thug-apprehension system.
“Congratulations, you qualify for free shipping … to jail!”

The Feature Creep
Bill Gates, chair of Microsoft
Net worth:
$53 billion
By night:
Doggedly pursues scofflaws, slowing them to a crawl with bloatware.
“I’ll steamroll you like I did the Sherman Antitrust Act!”
The Zen Torpedo
Larry Ellison, CEO of Oracle
Net worth:
$28 billion
By night:
This software-slinging sailor is all about CRM: Clobbering Ruthless Miscreants.
“My databases? Unbreakable. Your bones? Not.”

The Superpoke
Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook
Net worth:
$4 billion
By night:
Scans malefactors’ oversharing wall posts for details of fiendish plots.
“Status update: Your jaw is now in a relationship with my fist!”

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Founder of Internet Imagines a New Web of Raw and Linked Data

Over the past couple of years, it’s been pretty clear that online video can be used for so many interesting purposes. YouTube has allowed amateurs everywhere to share music videos, funny videos, creative mash-ups, and all sorts of user-created content. Hulu has provided pretty high-quality, on-demand professional TV episodes. News sites like CNN and the New York Times have used online videos to enhance news reports. But one of my favorite uses of online video has to be TED. TED stands for “Technology, Entertainment, and Design”, and it is a non-profit group dedicated to “Ideas worth spreading”. They organize conferences all over the world every year with speakers like Bill Gates, Al Gore, and Chris Anderson, to discuss new ideas relating to technology, science, business, and all sorts of global issues. And even though TED conferences are difficult to get into, they make their conference videos available online, and these are really thought-provoking discussions that are totally worth your time.

For example, this following TED video is a speech given by Tim Berners-Lee. He literally helped create the world wide web 20 years ago, and now he discusses what he thinks his current project, which he hopes will “do for numbers what the Web did for words, pictures, video: unlock our data and reframe the way we use it together.” It’s so cool to hear him talk about what it was like building the web 20 years ago, and how he originally wanted to make it easier to share documents. And then now we hear his vision of creating a web where raw, linked data is the core functionality. He encourages the audience to yell, “Raw data now!” I think having more and more linked data available on the web could make it easier for scientists to tackle certain issues, but I’m really curious what the privacy implications are for so much openness and shared data on the web. It could definitely make finding certain information easier, but what kind of privacy safeguard would we have? Who would regulate something like that? And how would we determine what format raw data is presented in?

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Monetization of Mobile Platform

The slides below are for a project that I have been working on in the past two weeks for one of my classes. I have really been fascinated by the growth of the mobile internet and what implications may result from always-on, constantly available internet access. How will users change their internet usage behavior, how will they utilize such easy online access, and just as important, how will businesses make money from the rise of mobile internet?

That means asking what new mobile advertising and location-based advertising and services will be prominent on mobile phone platforms. By examining the major advertising networks and the differences in their various market segments, as well as the impact of location-based technologies on new advertising efforts and the innovative services that have arisen to take advantage of location-based technologies, I wanted this presentation to highlight what advertisers and mobile users can expect to see in the next five years in a constantly changing industry. One important aspect of the future of the mobile industry’s development that is not stressed in these slides is mobile apps. Apps are the way to extend the usability of mobile internet service, and is a major player in the growth of the mobile internet. Also, I believe it will be the leader in efforts to monetize the mobile internet effort in the future, but due to the scope of my research this time, I did not cover it. I would definitely like to look into this sector in the future.

I relied on a variety of sources, including industry media like AdAge, TechCrunch, and marketing research firms like eMarketer and even some Morgan Stanley investor reports, so there’s a lot numbers to digest, but also some neat graphs and charts to make things easier to understand. Maybe this sounds like a cliche, but I really think the potential impact of mobile internet is going to change our lives. What are your thoughts on the growth of mobile internet and mobile advertising? What are the next big mobile web opportunities?

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Collective Power

News came out last week that social ecommerce site Groupon has received $1.35 million in funding from venture capitalist firm D.S.T, and has also received an evaluation of over $1 billion. Considering Twitter received its $1 billion valuation 3 years after it was founded, and Facebook received such a valuation after 2 years, Groupon’s $1 billion valuation after only one and a half a year after its creation may mark the coming of a collective-buying age. On Groupon, users can receive daily discounts of deals from many local services and retail stores if a certain number of people all sign up for the deal. Groupon epitomizes collective behavior as a way to scale, and thus reducing economic costs, so it can strike a win/win situation for both consumers and retailers.

Besides this economically-driven collective behavior on social commerce sites like Groupon, flash mobs are another kind of collective behavior that also demonstrate how collective power can be facilitated and even amplified by social technologies. A week before last Thursday’s Earth Day, I received an Facebook message from a USC student group summoning its members to dress in blue and green to resemble the earth and “flash” for 10 seconds in front of Tommy Trojan at a certain time during Earth Day to show our pride and make a public statement. Interested members could sign up on Facebook and coordinate what color they had decided to wear. I did not join the flash mob, but I heard from several friends who participated that it was a very successful event.

Clay Shirky in his book, Here Comes Everybody, states that today’s adoption of social media can help people self-organize, and therefore reduce the economic costs of organization, and reduce the threshold cost of collective behavior to make it more likely to happen. Flash mobs and collective buying on Groupon are both self-organized collective behaviors that are the beneficiaries of social media technologies; while it is known that the sum of collective individual actions is greater than individual actions taken on their own , modern social media technologies have removed the economic barriers and encouraged more collective voices to bring more power to our society.