This is a writeup of Hrishikesh Aradhye, Ph.D.'s talk at the Media Lab last month, with my own commentary sprinkled throughout.
Power to the people, at last! It's a new hour
Now we all ain't gon' be American Idols
But you can 'least grab a camera, shoot a viral
Kanye West, Power
An hour of video is uploaded to YouTube every second (or ten years' worth of video every single day). Think about that for a minute. That's a lot of content. And, as haters everywhere have pointed out already, a lot of it is crap.
The more interesting point, though, is that some of these videos are actually really good. If YouTube can get better at surfacing the good stuff, whether it's a funny comedian, a talented singer, or a hilarious FAIL clip, we all benefit (including Google). Identifying talent has traditionally been a very subjective art, and as a result, the quantification of talent hasn't really been discussed in published literature.