Free Press Journal

Videocracy…How YouTube is changing the World by Kevin Allocca: Review


Name of the book: Videocracy…How YouTube is changing the World

Author: Kevin Allocca

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Price: Rs. 499/-

Pages: XV + 335

Welcome to the world of YouTube. This book takes the reader to a wonderful journey of ever expanding world of YouTube. How many of us noticed how and when videos became part of our life over last decade or so. Few will realise that it is YouTube behind this phenomenon. And probably fewer will believe that there was a time when YouTube requested people to upload videos. There are more surprises in the store like, YouTube has been and is being shaped not by the founders but by the users. The journey of YouTube is filled with adventure like other start-ups, but the Bangladesh connect is an eye-opener.

The book dispels quite a few myths. It is accepted fact that social media is changing culture and mostly for worse.  YouTube is a major component of social media and surprisingly, it is changing culture for the good also, though not in the same proportion. It is building sibling bonding, as well as it has occasionally connected Arabs and Israel for good!

YouTube has given lot of artists to the music and entertainment industry, but YouTube is beyond that. This is a must read book for entrepreneurs who want to use YouTube to succeed or to put it more factually, anyone who is an entrepreneur or wants to be one must read this book. The book covers in details examples of entrepreneurs from different walks of life that have succeeded using YouTube. While YouTube has given a global platform to artists, it has also produced Olympic winners. Book covers in detail how YouTube has contributed to social, political and other changes in the society.

This book makes one realise that there are different types of videos. There are normal videos and there are videos for television. But the world of video is totally different when it comes to YouTube. The author lets one secret out in the book and, that is, YouTube can also produce bad videos. Interestingly quite a few super successful videos on the YouTube were considered not up to the mark and yes, there is a chapter on what makes the videos go viral, which explores the science and arts behind the same.

The book is a mine of information and surprises. The book makes a great contribution in understanding human behaviour and psychology. Just to prove the point, ‘the first video to cross a million hit was an advertisement’ and ‘pimple/blackhead videos get more than five times the viewership earwax ones do’.

There are small features on the YouTube which every user may not notice, but have great value and lots of thinking and research goes behind them. Also, the reader will realise that audio is not an important component of video and understand the difference between ‘watch time’ and ‘view counts’.

The book has used the footnotes excellently. Generally, footnotes come as an obstruction in the general books, but in this book, they bring a smile. Small graphs in the book add value to the argument. Bigger graphs would have made the reading easier. The arguments in the book have been supported by numbers where ever required.

YouTube exists because of videos and ‘democratising the power of distribution’ is the major contribution of YouTube. The name of the book combines these two thoughts and is aptly named ‘Videocracy’. Not to forget, YouTube often creates a ‘sense of community, which is not geographic’. The nomenclatures of the chapters have been done equally creatively.

The author Kevin Allocca is head of culture and trends at YouTube and he has covered the different facets of YouTube brilliantly, but has missed how ISIS, Taliban and other terror organisation have used it against humanity. Every good thing can be and has been misused. Brushing it under the carpet is not the solution. It would have been great if another chapter could have been added explaining how terrorists use YouTube and efforts and steps taken by YouTube to curb the same.

This one omission doesn’t make the book less important. Anyone who wants to get the world’s attention as activist, as politician, as marketer, as artist etc. must read this book because as of March 2017, YouTube showed only over two million different videos to people every single day.

Book has exhaustive and useful ‘notes’ section followed up with helpful ‘index’. The language is easy, and reader will never find a dull moment and, of course, learning is huge. Last but not the least, there is no India story as far as YouTube goes. Hope this book will change the same.