Google “Steven” and what do you get? Well it is April 2010 and most of use might guess that Steven Seagul would be in the top 10 because of all the news reports about him in the past week. Another guess would be Steven Spielberg. But ahead of these two is Steven Johnson – the author. The author of a book that shocked me out of my Pac-Man world. The book is “Everything Bad Is Good For You“.
In this book Johnson says the following. “Technology amplifies the Sleeper Curve in one final respect: it introduces new platforms and genres at an accelerating rate. We had thirty years to adapt to the new storytelling possibilities of cinema; then another twenty for radio; then twenty years of present-tense television. And then the curve slants upward: five years to acclimate to the VCR and video games; the e-mail, on-line charts, DVDs, TiVo, the Web – all becoming staples of the pop culture diet in the space of a decade.” (page 173)
When I re-read this the other day I asked, “What about YouTube?” Why doesn’t he mention it? Then I looked at when the book was printed – 2005. YouTube.com was only activated in Februatry of 2005. It had its official launch in November of 2005. YouTube is now the third most visited website behind Google and Facebook. I have clothes that are older than YouTube. I have adjusted to YouTube faster than I can adjust to changes in fashion. Here is one of my favorite books, that in my mind I just recently read, and it is already out of date!
Why has YouTube caught on so fast and why will it stay?
YouTube is here to stay because it is a technology that works the way our brains work. Because of this we can easily adapt to YouTube and it has become an easy way for us to communicate. It makes us more human!
RadioLab recently did a podcast titled Limits and asked the question about how much can you jam into a human brain? Part of the episode about the brain is fascinating. Click here to go to this podcast.
They tell the stunning tale of a Mr. S who seems to have no limits with his memory. But, there is a dark side to this ability. Then they visit the annual World Memory Championships, to meet expert brain stuffers and they revel a way to remember long strings of random numbers. Typically we can remember a string of 7 – 10 random numbers fairly easily. But, how do these memory champions remember thousands of random numbers.
They visualize the numbers. They remember them by associating them with a picture. This is easily understandable. For Nascar lovers 3 is Dale Earnhardt Sr. Basketball fans # 23 is a picture of Michael Jordan. And for you it can be a long list of associations that you remember when you think of a certain number. So these memory champs do picture associations. Some of them do it naturally and others practice and practice.
An example of someone who sees picture associations with what he is able to memorize is Daniel Tammet whose brain does it naturally for him. “I know it was a Wednesday because the date is blue in my mind and Wednesdays are always blue, like the number nine or the sound of loud voices arguing.”, Tammet says in his book Born On A Blue Day. Thanks to people like Daniel we are able to get an insight into how our brains, and more specifically our memories function.
All of the new research into how our brains work is neuroscience. Google that and you will find thousands of research papers that go beyond your grandmothers references to “using your noodle” or whatever she used to say. The advances in understanding the human brain are changing as rapidly as the technology that is fueling this research.
The brain works in images. We take those images and create artificial words that represent these images. But, if I can show you something it is better than a long explanation. So, what does it feel like to come out of surgery. The video “David After Dentist clicks in the brain better than a long string of words. The best wordsmith, as we all know, really knows how to paint a picture.
Saturday I was in a store and someone said they had the cutest granddaughter. I told this grandmother that my granddaughter was cuter. She pulled out a picture. I didn’t have one in my pocket. Guess who won the arguement!
So if you haven’t discovered YouTube lately, and you are in business take a few minutes and explore the videos you will find. What may surprise you is the number of people who have watched videos about your “unique” business. If you are a coin merchant your little secret about how to clean a penny has been told by two kids in this video – “How to Clean A Penny“. If you are a builder and think you have the secret about framing a wall, that secret is out in this video – “How to Frame A Wall”. Over 40,000 people have watched that video. Even your clumsy college professor would rather watch and learn how to frame a wall than read it in a book. It just fits more naturally with our brain.
Technology that enhances our ability to communicate will be here forever. YouTube is not bad for us as humans. It is good for us.