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Here are some of the moments that helped shape YouTube

Time to relive those memories.

Image: HDCYT/YouTube

IT’S PROBABLY FAIR to say that YouTube has taken up a lot of our time since it was first launched in 2005.

Nowadays, more than 300 hours of video are uploaded to the service every minute and more than one billion users worldwide.

There have been an incredible number of videos that have contributed to YouTube’s popularity (and listing all of them would take all day), but here are a few select moments from its ten-year history.

Me at the Zoo
When: 
23 April 2005

Purely for posterity purposes, this was YouTube’s first video made public and while it’s incredibly boring now, it helped kick things off for one of the most popular services in the world.

Source: jawed/YouTube

The Evolution of Dance
When: 6th April 2006

If you’re wondering where the whole ‘evolution of’ video ideas came from, they all stem back to this one video. A motivational speaker by trade, Judson Laipply came up with the idea as a way to end his talks.

He started performing it in 2001 but when he uploaded it in 2006, it became one of the first true viral videos on the site and held the title of the most-watched video on YouTube for a while. More importantly, it showed its potential for viral content, something that would be repeated again and again.

Source: Judson Laipply/YouTube

Charlie Bit My Finger
When: 22nd May 2007

An example of how anything can go viral (under the right circumstances), the premise behind Charlie Bit My Finger is so well-known by now that we’ll spare the details, but like the Evolution of Dance, it led to many other similar videos catching children doing silly or funny things.

Source: HDCYT/YouTube

Justin Bieber
When: Since 2007

Whatever your opinions are on him (they’re negative, right), it’s easy to forget that Bieber’s career began on YouTube. It didn’t take long for his success outgrew the site and to put his popularity in context, his videos on his VEVO channel have been viewed 5.4 billion times.

Source: JustinBieberVEVO/YouTube

Rick Astley – Never Gonna Give You Up
When: 24th October 2009

For everyone on the web, you haven’t really experienced it properly until you were rickrolled, a trend started by the controversial forum site 4chan. How it worked was someone would provide a link to the topic in question, claiming it’s relevant before someone took the bait, clicks on it and finds out it actually a link to Rick Astley.

The trend quickly its way to the mainstream and for a while, you couldn’t escape its influence. If anything, it made people more suspicious as to what they were clicking through to (which is probably a good thing).

Source: RickAstleyVEVO/YouTube

Rebecca Black – Friday
When: 14th March 2011

Speaking of things people love to hate, Friday is one of the most downvoted songs (the original got 3 million red thumbs while the current version has 1.5 million) on the site and was mocked for its low production values, bad dancing and poor song and lyrics. Proof, if proof was needed, that not everything that becomes popular does so for the right reasons.

Source: rebecca/YouTube

Nyan Cat
When: 5th April 2011

An example of different mediums coming together. Originally a GIF uploaded by Chris Torres, it was shared across Tumblr before someone decided to combine it with a Japanese song called Nyanyanyanyanyanyanya (Yep, that’s what it’s called), and from that, it became an internet sensation.

Its popularity exploded and many, many tributes, parodies and copycats (sorry) popped up. There’s even a ten-hour version of the video, in case you wish to lose your sanity.

Source: slobs/YouTube

Psy – Gangnam Style
When: 15th July 2012

What’s to say about Gangnam Style that hasn’t been said already? It’s a catchy song, it includes a weird music video, it introduced the world to the horse dance and there’s a guy thrusting his pelvis while in an elevator. No wonder it has 2.24 billion views.

Source: officialpsy/YouTube

Harlem Shake
When: January 2013

For a while, you couldn’t escape the impact of the Harlem Shake. The one defining factor behind its popularity was that anyone could recreate it, and while it became tired very quickly, it did show how fast something could be adapted around the world.

Source: Kenneth Håkonsen/YouTube

When three YouTubers interviewed the US President
When: 22nd January 2015

Some may have mocked the idea of three YouTubers interviewing one of the most powerful people in the world, but it happened last month and is a major coup for the service, showing that the barriers between traditional and new media is fading even faster than before.

One of the interviewees, Hank Green, wrote about his experiences, addressing the reaction before the interview and is worth the read.

Source: The White House/YouTube

And just in case you want to know how a video goes viral, here’s a rather simplified answer to that question.

Source: TED/YouTube

Easier said than done, eh?

Read: 5 apps worth downloading this week >

Read: You can now walk around someone’s mind with an Xbox controller >

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About the author:

Quinton O'Reilly

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