Happy Anniversary, YouTube!

Who doesn’t love YouTube? Sure, the targeted ads, weird new censorship initiatives, and videos of rednecks ranting in pickup trucks are awful, but there’s so much great stuff on YouTube. Clips from long forgotten TV shows, the “Chocolate Rain” video, so very many cats, dogs, and other animals, sports highlights, instructional videos, sermons, political insight, collections of Vines, and good, old fashioned time-wasters.

YouTube’s first video, “Me at the Zoo,” was uploaded April 23, 2005, sixteen years ago today. It features YouTube co-founder Jawed Karin in front of the elephant exhibit at the San Diego Zoo. It’s nineteen seconds long, and I don’t think anyone could possibly have imagined how world-changing it would be.

YouTube was created because after Nipplegate (a/k/a the Janet Jackson/Justin Timberlake Super Bowl XXXVIII halftime incident), the eventual YouTube founders realized they couldn’t find a clip of Nipplegate anywhere on the Internet. Their solution? Create a virtual warehouse of clips so that historic events like Janet Jackson accidentally single-headlight flashing 150 million television viewers could be preserved in the annals of history.

Instead of providing an entire history of YouTube, I thought I would just share some of the greatest hits.

Most Viewed YouTube Video Ever

With a mind-boggling 8.3 BILLION (8,300,000,000) views, the “Baby Shark Dance” video is currently the most-viewed video on YouTube. I remember when it first blew up and I consciously didn’t watch it. In fact, I still haven’t seen it, and I have no interest in seeing it. But if 8.3 billion views are any indication of it’s intrigue, I’m sure it’s worth a watch.

Past Legends

Other great videos in YouTube history include the Harvard baseball team’s lip sync of Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” . . .

. . . and the “Gangnam Style” music video (with 4 billion views) . . .

. . . and the widely panned “Friday” by Rebecca Black . . .

. . . and “Charlie Bit My Finger – Again!” . . .

. . . and the classic “Evolution of Dance,” which happens to be the first “viral” YouTube video I can remember watching . . .

. . . and, of course, a plethora of cat videos.

My Favorite Legendary YouTube Video

This isn’t really fair, because this video wasn’t originally uploaded to YouTube. However, YouTube is where I first saw it and the reason I still tell people I will use “intimidating shout” and “thirty-two point three-three, repeating of course, percentage” and it’s immediate pairing “that’s better than we normally do.” But of course the absolute best part of this video and its application to real life is going “LEEEEEROOOOOOOOOOYYYYYYYYYYY JJJJJJJJJJJJJJJEEEEEEEEEEEEEENNNNNNNNNNNNKKKKIIIIINNNNSSSSS”

So happy anniversary, YouTube. The world would be a much more productive, but much less fun, place without you!

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