Time magazine is calling YouTube the invention of the year. This is a big achievement for YouTube and especially for Steve Chen, Chad Hurley and Jawed Karim. Here’s a quote from the article which I find interesting:
even though they built it, they didn’t really understand it. They thought they’d built a useful tool for people to share their travel videos. They thought people might use it to pitch auction items on eBay. They had no idea. They had opened a portal into another dimension.
… Instead of posting their home movies, they posted their stand-up routines and drunken ramblings and painful-looking snowboarding wipeouts. … They sent in eyewitness footage from the aftermath in New Orleans and the war in Baghdad from both sides. They promulgated conspiracy theories. They sat alone in their basements and poured their most intimate, embarrassing secrets into their webcams. YouTube had tapped into something that appears on no business plan: the lonely, pressurized, pent-up video subconscious of America
The last sentences of this quote, captures pretty much the essence of what YouTube has become. Its the freedom of expression. Spread your wings and fly, even if its like Icarus your at least flying for a short while.
The future of YouTube lies in how it conduct its dealings with media companies and how it handles lawsuits. This will quite literally, make or break YouTube. This will define the direction Google takes with YouTube as well.
However, with that being said, the videos itself can be considered advertisements. For example, the advertisement of Ronaldinho (for Nike) is captured on YouTube and people watch it quite often. If this isn’t targeting the masses then what is? Now if they can add some adsense style ads depending on the tags/contents of the video, ka-ching! YouTube may even be sharing revenue with the creators of the videos. This should encourage more people to upload their videos.
However, for me YouTube will mean something more important. An excellent way to kill time when your bored.
Edit: Added reference regarding revenue sharing.