web culture | January 25, 2012

Rise of the Amateurs: Lev Grossman on YouTube's Battle with Traditional TV

In this week’s issue of TIME, tech writer Lev Grossman has an eye-opening piece on the growth of YouTube and its battle to replace television sets as the viewing destination of choice. Every minute, a whopping 60 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube, a site that Google paid $1.65 billion for in 2006, and which now attracts roughly 4 billion views a day.

Grossman, a celebrated book critic and novelist who is equally adept at parsing web trends, delves into what it means that a large number of people are watching self-made YouTube videos like Nyan Cat—a pixilated cat with a Pop-Tart body that shoots a rainbow trail out of its backside. If you're wondering what the infamous Nyan Cat says about the future of visual entertainment, Grossman explains:

What Nyan Cat tells us is that when you put amateurs in charge of broadcast media, odd things happen, and that's what YouTube does. When all we had was bland, corporate network television, we assumed that we were bland and corporate too. But if we're the ones running the studio, the Nyan Cat will be out of the bag. We're only beginning to find out how weird we really are. Stay tuned, because YouTube is going to show us.

Though arguably more famous for his young adult novels, The Magicians and The Magician King, which are being adapted for television, a la Game of Thrones, Grossman is one of the country’s most agile technology writers.

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