RSS Feeds

I have given presentations about Internet video for many years. In the earliest presentations, it was difficult or expensive to show much video, because network bandwidth was insufficient or the variety of available videos was limited. Thus, in these earlier presentations, I would ask the audience to imagine what Internet video could enable, which was often met with polite skepticism.

A couple of years ago (2008), I put together a presentation that discussed the potential offered by Internet video.

By 2008, Internet video was well established by web sites like YouTube and it was beginning to be talked about on commercial television; however, it was not something that most people viewed themselves.

But in 2008, I could actually show representative examples of Internet video, and use those examples to discuss how Internet video could evolve. In essence, I could use Internet video to tell a story about Internet video on a more compelling level than just using words as I had to do previously.

I recently stumbled upon this two year old presentation, and thought of updating it. However when I looked at the videos, they still seemed to be relevant and representative. Thus, rather than an update, what follows below is the 2008 selection of ten videos with brief commentary and reference links for each video.

The first five videos are notable because they became very popular, often very rapidly in a viral fashion. Without Internet video, these first five videos would most likely not have been made. The next five videos are examples of videos that might have been produced prior to Internet video, but likely would have seen very limited distribution if at all. The medium of Internet video enabled much broader availability and viewing. Thus, all of these videos are examples of the democratization of media that is enabled by the Internet.

The original presentation also described the history and evolution of television, cable TV, early Internet video, and a few thoughts on how Internet video will continue to grow in significance and prominence. That background material is not included below.

Video viewing logistics:
1. Viewing the embedded videos requires javascript and common video player plugins. You may be asked to enable javascript and download video player plugins in order to view the videos.
2. The embedded videos below actually stream and play from their original hosting sites, not from this site. If you have problems viewing the videos, it may be due to a problem at the original hosting site. The first couple of reference links for each video point to the actual location of the video. If you have trouble viewing the videos here, you can try navigating to the respective hosting sites to see if the videos are available there.
3. If you have problems viewing videos, post a comment below, and I’ll see if I can resolve it.

Pachelbel's Canon, Jeong-Hyun Lim, 2005-12-20


When this video first appeared, it quickly became one of the early examples of viral video. It was picked up by mainstream media, and continues to be relatively popular. But, since the video was posted under the pseudonym ‘funtwo’ and a hat covers the guitarist’s face in the video, no one knew who he was.

Months later his identity was revealed as Jeong-hyun Lim, a South Korean, self taught guitarist, roughly 21 years old at the time. He is playing a cover of JerryC’s “Canon Rock” (2005), which is a rock version Johann Pachelbel’s Canon in D major. Interestingly, JerryC’s original Canon Rock was relatively unknown until Jeong-hyun’s cover spread across the Internet. Jeong-hyun’s cover spawned many other covers of Canon Rock, including a JerryC video covering this video.

The significance of this video is it demonstrates that a totally unknown amateur guitarist playing a cover of a little known rock arrangement of a minor classic music piece can achieve international exposure. This represents the potential reach of the Internet.

[ :: oriignal link, broken]

Evolution of Dance, Judson Laipply, 2006-04-06


“Evolution of Dance” is another example of a video going viral. Jud Laipply is an inspirational comedian. In the 6 minute video, Jud propgresses through 30 pop music dance moves, from Elvis Presley’s “Hound Dog” (1956) through Jay-Z’s “Dirt Off Your Shoulder” (2004). A few of the dances he performs are: “The Twist” (Chubby Checker, 1960), “Y.M.C.A.” (The Village People, 1978), “Thriller” (Michael Jackson, 1982), “Walk Like an Egyptian” (The Bangles, 1986), and “Macarena” (Los Del Rio, 1994).

The popularity of the video catapulted Jud onto mainstream media and boosted his career with appearances on shows such as Oprah, Ellen, and morning shows. The video also spawned many alternative expressions of the evolution of dance. Jud made a couple of sequels to Evolution of Dance, but they did not achieve the same popularity as the original.


“Diet Coke + Mentos Experiments, EepyBird, 2006-06-14


This video was not the first to demonstrate the explosive effects of putting Mentos into Diet Coke. However, it raised the demonstration to spectacular and entertaining proportions. And if you dig deeper, you get into the science of the effect. The surface texture of Mentos, especially mint Mentos, is covered with numerous nucleation sites that very rapidly form bubbles from the CO2 in the carbonated Diet Coke; over the years, a lot of information has been posted on the how to do this with various ingredients.

The self described mad scientists of Eepy Bird are Fritz Grobe and Stephen Voltz, from a small town in Maine. Once again, this video also went viral, and was picked up by mainstream media. Fritz and Stephen made several follow on videos, and have turned this into a ongoing adjunct career.


First Blog Dorkiness Prevails, LonelyGirl15, 2006-06-16


Many of the early videos on sites like YouTube were made by teens and young adults in front of their webcams recording a talking journal or dancing to their favorite music.

When loneygirl15 first appeared in early summer of 2006, it had all the appearances of normal teenage angst weblog videos. After a few weeks of posted videos, loneygirl15 gathered a large following, with many people posting comments to the videos and advice for her. Then, a fan created a fan site. However, other fans discovered that the domain name was registered a month before the first lonelygirl15 video was posted, which clearly indicates that something more was going on than a 16 year old girl posting personal videos.

Several weeks later, the producers of the lonelygirl15 videos revealed that they were exploring the new medium of Internet video to tell a story. Bree, aka loneygirl15, was actually a 19 year old actress named, Jessica Rose. Instant fame and television interviews for all involved. And even though everyone now knew that lonelygirl15 was intended as entertainment, many more videos were produced continuing Bree’s story.

lonelygirl15 was the first popular example of episodic story telling using short Internet videos. Significantly, it also engaged the viewers through their written comments and advice; many viewers even made their own videos responding to lonelygirl15. The effectiveness of the engaging interactive entertainment gained a lot of attention from the broader entertainment industry.


OK Go- Here It Goes Again – Oh No, 2006


Music videos would obviously make up a significant part of Internet videos. They were relatively short, were well produced, and had a built in audience.

Early on, there was reluctance from producers and bands to allow their music videos to be uploaded to the new medium of Internet video. Music videos would be uploaded by individuals who did not have the rights to do so, and once uploaded, the videos’ producers and bands lost control of how and when their videos would be played. Rights holders would request that the videos be taken off the sites, but they were fighting a loosing battle. Then gradually, through experience with videos like this one, the music industry got more comfortable with the Internet video as a new distribution medium.

In the summer of 2006, a relatively unknown band, OK Go, produced the “treadmill video” for their song, “Here It Goes Again”, from their 2nd album, “Oh No”, which was released a year earlier during the summer of 2005. The video was shot as a single continuous take, without intervening editing. Due to the band members’ comical and engaging antics across multiple treadmills, the video quickly went viral. One month later the band performed the song and treadmill dancing on the 2006 MTV Music Awards. The video won a 2007 Grammy Award for Best Short Form Music Video.


S.P.I.C.: The Storyboard of My Life – The Bottle Incident (2004)


Shifting gears… This video is not known for its popularity, but it is significant for its story telling. It would be difficult to be able to view this video if not for the medium of the Internet.

This video is one of five vignettes that make up “S.P.I.C.: The Storyboard of my Life” by Robert F. Castillo. In each video, Castillo draws a series of scenes of a story from his youth; in voiceover, he narrates the story. As a kid, Castillo was told that S.P.I.C. stood for “Special Person In Chelsea”, hiding the actual derogatory meaning and the context of the videos.

Castillo created these videos as a student project at the Manhattan School of Visual Arts. The videos were shown at several film festivals. And, he won a Student Film Academy Award in 2004 for the series.

I encourage you to view all 5 videos in the series at the link below.


The Mind, Machines, and Mathematics, 2006-11-30


Moving to a more esoteric topic… This video is a seminar hosted by MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) celebrating the 70th anniversary of Alan Turing’s 1936 paper, “On Computable Numbers”. Turing’s paper is often cited as the beginning of the computer era. The video captures the full seminar.

The first hour is a debate that considers whether computers and robots will eventually pass the Turing Test, in essence whether computers will be able to act and think more or less like humans. Arguing for the proposition is Ray Kurzweil, well known inventor and entrepreneur, and author of the book, “The Singularity Is Near”. Arguing against the proposition is David ¬≠Gelernter, professor of computer science at Yale. The debate is moderated by Rodney Brooks, then director of CSAIL and founder of iRobot, and now founder of Heartland Robotics.

Interestingly, a pizza break followed the first hour, and the video contains a 45 minute intermission. You can skip to the next part of the seminar, which resumes at approximately the 1:43:50 time mark.

In the remaining hour, Jack Copeland, in his lecture “Alan Turing: Codebreaker and AI Pioneer”, proposes that Alan Turing should be considered the father of artificial intelligence for the heuristic methods he used in breaking the encryption in the Nazi Enigma mechanical code cipher machine. Jack Copeland is Professor of Philosophy at University of Canterbury and Director of the Turing Archive for the History of Computing.

Access to lectures like these was extremely limited prior to Internet video. Now, just the MIT World collection provides access to more than 800 videos: “a free and open site that provides on demand video of significant public events at MIT” that is available to anyone anywhere around the world with an Internet connection.


Manchester Small-Scale Experimental Machine, BBC 1948


The year 2008 was the 60th anniversary of the development of the first (or one of the first) stored program digital computers, the University of Manchester Small-Scale Experimental Machine (SSEM) nicknamed “Baby”. This brief video clip is from a 1948 BBC news real showing Baby performing prime number calculation. Baby was a precursor to the more widely known Manchester Mark I.

Side note, Turing wrote a program for Baby.

Several organizations like the BBC typically have roughly a million hours or more of archival video material. Much of this archival material has received little use because of difficulty of access and of the cost of distribution. Internet video storage and delivery lowers cost barriers, and now makes this kind of material more readily available to the broader world audience. Though much of this material has limited commercial value, it has enormous cultural, human interest, and historical value. That collateral value has enormous brand value to the BBC and other such organizations with these archives.


Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture, 2007-09-20


Randy Pausch, a professor of computer science at Carnegie Mellon University, learned he had pancreatic cancer in September 2006; he died in July 2008, at the age of 47. In September 2007, Pausch gave a lecture at CMU titled “The Last Lecture: Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams”. This video is that lecture.

The lecture and this video received a lot of notice. The facts of it were covered in all of the major news media. The pathos of the story struck a cord. Much of the story is about the aspirations and joys of life. Pausch received considerable public fame, and appeared and brought his story to mass media. A book expanding on the lecture was published in April 2008.

It is certainly possible that his story would have gained prominence without the Internet, but the Internet provided broader natural reach for his story than would otherwise have been possible.


Jill Bolte Taylor’s Stroke of Insight, TED, 2008


The final video of this collection is Jill Bolte Taylor presenting at the 2008 TED conference. Taylor is a neurologist. At the age of 37 in 1996, she had a massive debilitating stroke. She describes the experience of having the stroke from the unique perspective of a neurologist understanding what was physically happening to her. For hours, during the stroke, she struggled alone to cope with what was happening to her. After she was found and receive medical treatment, it took her several years to recover from the stroke. This lecture is 12 years after the stroke.

The distribution of this video of Taylor’s presentation at TED catapulted her to national recognition. She appeared on Oprah and other major outlets. Her experiences were described in popular media.

This is yet another example of the access reach and content availability that is uniquely provided by the Internet.


Leave a Reply