"Those who tell the stories rule society" ~ Plato

Plato (http://z.about.com/d/ancienthistory/1/0/S/O/Vergil.jpg)

During class this past tuesday, Dr. Strangelove showed us a quote by the famous philosopher Plato (428/427 BC– 348/347 BC), “Those who tell the stories rule society.” Having never heard the quote before, I found it quite eye opening. How true is what Plato says? Having grown up in the United States (Rochester, New York) in a time period where the mass media controlled the country, it really put the right words to a very crooked situation. Looking back to the Monica Lewinski controversy, or the way the media handled coverage of 9/11 or even its pursuit for war in Iraq, it is rather astonishing to see how much control they really had. I don’t think I can count the number of times the words “Weapon of Mass Destruction” were on TV in 2003.

I am fortunate however, to have experienced the internet revolution. Over the past few years, the story tellers of society have shifted from the mass media to the user. This is mostly because of the expansion of Youtube. Personally, the chief source of my news comes from the internet, mainly Youtube. Instead of watching censored and regulated corporate news shows on the TV as much, I tend to watch more user generated news programs. And even when I do watch TV, it’s usually the Daily Show or the Colbert Report, which are not mainstream media.

Youtube is one of the most historic inventions of our time, allowing the everyday person to become a star. Some statistics pulled off of another wonderful Web 2.0 invention Wikipedia show this:

“According to a July 16, 2006 survey, 100 million video clips are viewed daily on YouTube, with an additional 65,000 new videos uploaded every 24 hours. The website averages nearly 20 million visitors per month, according to Nielsen/NetRatings”

More recently, Nielson ratings from May, 2008, show that this trend of people watching videos online is only getting more pervasive. As seen in the table below Youtube is the most popular video sharing website on the internet, having about 3 times more as many streams as the rest of the top ten list combined (number 2 - 10 having 1,326,894,000 streams and Youtube having 3,841,794,000 for the month of May). It is clear that its effect on our society is immense.

With these kinds of statistics, it is nearly impossible for television programming to compete. I wonder, however, how long society will allow the user to be the story teller. Will it, like Napster, be thrown out due to copy write infringement? Regardless, the amount of impact Youtube has had already is outstanding and it is inspiring to see the user control the media.