YouTube/CNN: Video’s “Actually” Moment
This evening broadcasters and bloggers alike will proclaim the CNN/YouTube Democratic debate a breakthrough in engaging young voters, as a way to re-democratize democracy, as proof that technology is transforming the way political campaigns are conducted, yadayadablahblahblah.
All fine. All good.
[Though it must be mentioned that this will hardly be a victory for disintermediated politics, or the death of MSM, what with CNN, middling spawn of the Time-Warner oligopoly, controlling the questions, promoting the event, and providing the medium by which most folks will view it.]
Let’s take a breath and look at other technology “moments.”
Remember when fax machines came out, and we all reveled in the novelty of being able to fax our pickup orders to restaurants?
Remember the first telephone answering machines, and we realized we could actually produce our own “personal” outgoing messages?
And when e-mail happened, when we could actually send jokes to people at work and they’d get them immediately?
With cell phones, we could actually walk down the street and talk on the phone!
Ditto nearly every technological innovation: desktop PCs, PDAs, online forums, blogs, social networks. . .each went through its “actually” moment. Then the technology matured, the novelty wore off and people figure out, more or less, what the thing is actually good for.
Now just happens to be homemade video’s “actually” moment–we can actually make videos to ask questions of presidential candidates!
This moment will pass too.
Let me be the first to predict: There will be no YouTube debate for the 2012 election. Making videos to ask candidates questions is an instant period piece, an expression of a moment in time. It will seem as quaint and foolish in four years as those insuffrable answering machine messages did by 1983.
I’m sure there will be something new for the 2012 election: Avatar candidacies? Crowdsourced campaign plans? Wiki platforms? Behaviorally targeted mobile advertising? Maglev whistle-stops with holographic candidate “appearances”? Who’s to say? No matter what, though, using video to question candidates will be so over, as they say on FaceBook.
Anyway, let’s enjoy tonight’s festivities, and try not to assign it more significance than it deserves.
And to keep yourself grounded, remember this:
As of 4 p.m. today, the “most discussed” video on YouTube is. . .a kid’s videotaping his dad viewing YouTube–and then catching him naked in his bedroom a few moments later.
Enjoy the debate.