In September 2005, a funny editor named Robert Ryang took the brilliant and put together a new trailer for it, making the ax horror movie a cherished family film. YouTube hadn’t come out of beta yet, so Ryang posted his humorous gem to a private area of his employer’s website and gave a few friends a dotmov link. One of them posted the link to his blog, and Ryang became an overnight sensation.
The New York Times remarked, observing with admiration: “His secret site received 12,000 visits.” Ryang also achieved the highest goal of 20th century humanity: he started getting calls from Hollywood. HELLO, THIS IS HOLLYWOOD.
I was a television critic at the time, and when I first saw Ryang’s masterpiece…buffering, buffering“I wasn’t sure I had the right to examine it. Was this digital item a show, movie, commercial, maybe a webpage? While I was thinking about the question, I created a folder called “Internet TV”.
Months passed and YouTube was officially launched. Could it be? The quasi-erotic fantasy of “convergence”—the moment when the internet and television finally merged into some sort of mundane Singularity—had arrived. In June 2006, I wrote on my own blog that people finally seemed “ready to accept video on computers”. Four months later, Google acquired YouTube for $1.65 billion. The original World Wide Web, a static system of low-bandwidth verbal hyperlinks, was over.
since, “internet television”, a phrase that I tried in vain to make happen, pitched its tent everywhere. Video defined what is known as Web 2.0, the only Internet many of us have ever known. And it now accounts for around 82% of online traffic. It’s not just YouTube, Instagram and Snap; even verbal apps, where the stock in commerce is still words — from banter (Twitter) to marketing palavers (LinkedIn) — are on fire with video.
But one application has never quite succeeded with animated images: Facebook. The company acquired Instagram in 2012, the same year it went public, and it seemed to believe its image and video bases were covered.
From the outset, Facebook had differentiated itself from MySpace and then Tumblr, image-laden emo sites that could veer into pornography, by catering to low-bandwidth, more serious consumers of words. Its users have been strongly urged to keep things clean and disclose real names, real bios, real birthplaces, real jobs.
Facebook’s core commitment to text has helped it expand its monster empire to populations underserved by broadband. (People without big data plans still have trouble viewing photos on Facebook’s mobile app.) The app’s text-based interface also sealed its rep as a site for simple facts and user-friendly content. grandmothers.
These world domination strategies had a devastating, albeit unintended, consequence: they left a population of hundreds of millions, and ultimately 2.9 billion, vulnerable to deception. People whose first and foremost contact with the internet was Facebook simply weren’t ready when the platform was hit with particularly serious misinformation in 2015. They were easily fooled. They had come to accept what they saw as facts – as empirical as a name and number in an employee directory, or a college… facebook.
The same users were also sitting ducks for editing mischief when Facebook did start pushing video with Facebook Watch and other streaming products and partnerships. (If I had first seen Ryang’s trailer posted by an aunt on Facebook, I swear I might have cleared things up, decided I still misunderstood the brilliantand torn at “Solsbury Hill”.)