A Decade Later, YouTube Remains a Mystery, Especially to Itself

It’s way too complicated to explain this marvelous history quickly, but let’s try anyway

Just a brief selection of magazine covers featuring YouTubers, including my very awkward-looking brother.


A wayback machine look at YouTube’s most viewed videos in late 2005 shows a whole lot of sex, copyrighted content, and misleading titles. Even though we can’t watch these videos, you know titles are misleading when people are rating with one star.


Looking back, this was remarkably prescient. The computer screen bit was actually reflective so you could kinda see yourself. Cleverrrrr.


The Partner Program

Content ID

Content ID is not without its problems, particularly when companies accidentally or intentionally claim content they do not own, but without it YouTube would not exist.


It’s easy to forget that in 2008, 480p video was a NEW FEATURE
The Janoskians held several gatherings in 2013 at which fans were injured.
My brother and me on stage at VidCon 2010. I thought this room was SOOO BIIIG!

2010–2014 Functionality

It’s like someone snuck into your house and moved all your furniture around while you were asleep.
Our channel used to be so pretty.
Now everyone’s channel looks pretty much the same.
Jawed Karim, a co-founder of YouTube, leaves his first bit of content since uploading YouTube’s first video. He is not pleased.
Emma Blackery did not pull any punches in the weeks after the integration.

2010–2014 Culture

They weren’t
Who could ever have predicted Pewdiepie! Gaming would become the biggest non-music vertical on YouTube.
It’s always weird to watch something you don’t particularly love happen to something you love a lot.

2015 and Beyond

A graphical rendering of the explosion in YouTube’s popularity and influence. Also the only cat joke I made in the WHOLE ARTICLE!

Novelist, YouTuber, Science Communicator, Community Organizer, Educational Media Creator

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store