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Lots of YouTube…

New models of media and interaction often start under the umbrella of an existing medium – usually somewhere on the fringe. Once the infant medium (or tool) grows in prominence and popularity, the traditional structure takes note. Eyeballs garner attention with decision makers. Several options then exist: fight the new medium (what the recording industry is doing with DRM and lawsuits), accommodate by adopting elements (what the newspaper industry is doing with their adoption of blogs), or use the new medium to create an entirely new field/industry/approach (what is happening with Linux, open source, and the participative web).
Organizations react to YouTube in a blend of these approaches. YouTube is often seen as a poster child for grassroots media. But in 2007 it has been extensively adopted by traditional groups: presidential debate, the Royal Family’s YouTube channel, the music industry (“The most popular videos on YouTube this year were a bunch of major label music videos – not the user generated content the site would like to be known for”), and recently as a promotional tool for Microsoft (Vista).
It will be interesting to watch how things play out in media, education, and even society over the next several years. The tension between grassroots, bottoms-up, emergent approach and the formalized, planned, organized model will continue to increase. Once a medium has enough attention and participants, someone will step in and start to organize it toward intended, focused goals. Learning Management Systems followed this path. Participative media is starting to move in this direction with blog/media and podcast networks trying to create a revenue model. And I suspect what we currently call personal learning environments will also be subject to increased formalization (I recently attended an Angel Learning demonstration – starting to sound like web 2.0 meets LMS). And if the amount of invitations I receive for product reviews and new feature announcements are any indication, marketers are increasingly aware of the viral-like nature of blogs and other citizen journalism approaches to present their products.