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YouTube: An Insider's Guide to Climbing the Charts

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Let me begin by making an observation that the authors are too humble to make for themselves: This book will change your life. But more on that in a moment. First I’m going to do something prototypically YouTubian: I’m going to talk about myself.

Like most people, I got to know YouTube as part of my lifelong project to discover every method of procrastination available on the Internet. I’d go online and watch music videos or laughing babies or squirrels on water skis or whatever the new viral video happened to be. But I didn’t get it, not really. I didn’t understand the immense potential of YouTube, because what is truly powerful about the site is its communitybuilding features.

In the summer of 2006, I discovered two very different YouTube channels and fell in love. The first was askaninja, a hilarious show in which a man dressed as a ninja answers viewers’ questions. The quick-cut editing and rapid-fire speech of askaninja have since become a hallmark of countless popular videos (including mine). The second was lonelygirl15, a seemingly real vlog made by a seemingly real 16-year-old girl whose parents were caught up in a profoundly weird occultist religion. Lg15, as the show was known, felt to me like all the best parts of Lost, but it was even better. It felt real in a way that no television show ever could.

After watching it for a few months, I began to understand why I enjoyed it so much: I was participating in the creation of the show. My video responses (Chapter 8) appeared on the lg15 YouTube page, as did my text comments. I interacted with other fans and became friends with them. Television shows don’t bring together strangers like YouTube communities can, because a TV show—even an awesome one—is merely something you watch. TV does not get more awesome as a result of you watching it, but YouTube channels do. That’s the miracle of YouTube: You get to help make the awesome.
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