Friday, February 27, 2009

State of the Nation (Hip-Hop Interpretation)

For those of you who missed Obama’s recent address to Congress -- or don’t have 54 minutes to spare -- here’s Obama impersonator AlphaCat/Iman Cross’s 3-minute hip-hop interpretation:

Some Friday Upates: Interactivity in Congress... more coming soon

Thursday, February 26, 2009

New York State Senate tries a first: YouTube Testimonies

The New York State Senate has set up a Temporary Committee on Rules Reform, and they're opening up the process by holding public hearings. But they also they realize the limitations of live events to solicit feedback from New York citizens, so they're also asking people to upload testimony straight to YouTube as comments or video responses to this video:

They've already got their first proposal on video, from Brooklynite Matt Cowherd (great name). He suggests that the State Senate hold public hearings on all legislation.

Find out more over at The Albany Project.

Senator of the Week: Your Votes Are In

Last week, Senator Cornyn (R-TX) kicked off the YouTube Senator of the Week program with this video in which he asked for your thoughts about the recently-passed economic stimulus package.

You responded through the Senate Hub's Moderator gadget with 112 unique ideas about what Congress could do to better stimulate the American economy, including eliminating the income tax and providing substantial student debt relief for young Americans. Over 2400 votes were cast on these ideas and the YouTube community's favorites rose to the top.

In this video, Senator Cornyn addresses your top two ideas:

Senator Cornyn only responded to the top 2 submissions, but there are many other excellent ideas that deserve your attention and discussion. We hope that you'll read them over and post your own video response to Cornyn's video to keep the lively stimulus debate going on YouTube. And don't forget to visit the and next Tuesday to weigh in on two new issues from our next Senator and Representative of the Week.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Archbishop launches YouTube campaign to reach Catholics

According to the Associated Press: "To mark the beginning of Lent, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington is launching a $75,000 marketing blitz using YouTube, a blog and advertising to reach lapsed Catholics.

"We wanted people to be able to ask questions," said Susan Gibbs, spokeswoman for the 580,000-member archdiocese. "Sometimes they're not ready to walk in a church door ... or they might be embarrassed to ask a question, or they might be worried that they won't be welcome."

Watch Archbishop Donald Wuerl's welcome video on the new Washington Archdiocese YouTube channel:

Vote for your favorite political video!

TechPresident is keeping a running list of the best political videos on the web.

You can submit a video to be in the running and vote for your favorites here:

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Tinker v. Des Moines Lives On

Today marks the 40th anniversary of the historic Supreme Court decision, "Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District," which states that high school students have the right to wear symbols on their clothing while at school to protest or support an issue. This video, featuring the plaintiff Mary Beth Tinker, offers background on the case:

When the case was brought forty years ago, the issue in question was students wearing black armbands to protest the Vietnam War. Today, as depicted in this ACLU video, students are using the Tinker precedent to support their right to sport rainbow-laden paraphernalia at school:

Monday, February 23, 2009

How To Start A Movement, YouTube Style

Have you ever wondered how to build a movement using social media? How to stage a nonviolent protest? How to create a smart mob (or wondered what a smart mob is)?

You're in luck. Howcast, one of YouTube's most popular how-to channels, has released a series of engaging how-to videos that concentrate on using technology to movement-build and create social change:

Howcast created the videos in conjunction with the first-ever Alliance of Youth Movements Summit where social media experts and delegates from 17 international youth organizations met in New York City to discuss how young people can leverage social media and technology to end violence, oppression and human rights abuses around the world.

For more online organizing strategies, visit the Summit's YouTube channel.

Mayor Daley Launches YouTube Channel

Joining the likes of Mayor Hickelooper of Denver and Mayor Bloomberg in New York City, Mayor Daley launched a YouTube channel today for his office in Chicago. Though the Mayor's office starting posting videos to YouTube 5 months ago, they closed down their channel for awhile in anticipation of this launch.

Most of the videos posted so far seem to be pretty standard fare - clips of the Mayor at various public appearances. But in today's welcome video, the Mayor hints of more interactivity to come.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Video captured of Chicago cop aggressively removing man from public bus

From the Chicago Tribune:

The Independent Police Review Authority and Chicago police are looking into a video posted on the popular YouTube Web site that appears to show a uniformed Chicago police officer struggling with and verbally abusing a man who didn't heed the officer's order to get off a CTA bus.

The video, dated last Friday and apparently shot by another passenger, shows the officer getting on the bus in the 800 block of West Division Street and demanding the uncooperative passenger get off because he didn't pay his fare.

Watch the video:

YouTube stars vie for spot on MSNBC

The popular YouTube news show, The Young Turks, is utilizing the success of its YouTube channel and large audience of subscribers to leverage the producers at MSNBC. The cable network purportedly wants to secure a new show for the 7 pm time slot, which currently shows re-runs of Countdown with Keith Olbermann --- and The Young Turks and their fans think the show deserves a shot.

Those who want to see the Young Turks on television have started social media blitz - creating Facebook groups and video petitions that extol the merits of the show's dynamic host, Cenk Uygur. Advocates are sending these messages and evidence of support to the team over at MSNBC, in hopes of influencing the network's decision.

Hre are two of the videos supporting the Young Turks' play for prime-time.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Have Your Way With Goldman Sachs

In 2002, Goldman Sachs and two other private equity firms bought Burger King for $1.5 billion. According to a new video by BraveNewFilms, if you divided the 6.5 billion dollars in bonuses that Goldman Sachs paid out to its employees last year between all of the Burger King employees, you'd more than double each of their annual salaries. The average Burger King employee makes $14,000 a year - less than the federal poverty line for a family of three. The average bonus given to Goldman Sachs employees this year, after the company received a $10 million bailout injection from the federal government, was $210,000.

BraveNewFilms wants to send Goldman Sachs a message, and they're inviting you to submit your "creative, constructive, or comical ideas" to eliminate corporate greed and help address the global economic meltdown. They plan to send all of the videos to Goldman Sachs "as a reprimand for their wastefulness," and the winner will get his or her idea featured in the next BraveNewFilms video.

To enter the contest, visit their site:

On the Road to Solving India's Climate Crisis

In this Sunday's New York Times, Thomas Friedman highlighted ten young climate activists who drove plug-in electric cars all over India. Their mission was to highlight potential solutions to the climate crisis and inspire citizens and companies to take action to decrease their burgeoning carbon footprint.

These activists, who belong to an organization called the Indian Youth Climate Network, chronicled their entire 2100-mile trip on YouTube, creating 35 videos about how Indians were tackling energy problems in rural villages, on college campuses, and in overpopulated cities:

As the group posted footage to YouTube, other people joined their movement. Says Friedman, "A Bollywood dance group joined at different stops and a Czech who learned about their trip on YouTube hopped on with his truck that ran on vegetable-oil waste."

For full coverage of the journey, please visit the Indian Youth Climate Network's YouTube Channel.

1998 YouTube video used as bargaining chip for federal funding

In 1998, San Francisquito Creek, a 14-mile waterway that originates in the San Francisco Bay and runs through the California Bay Area peninsula, flooded the region, destroying thousands of homes and causing $25.5 million worth of damage. All efforts to construct additional flood prevention measures have been halted, due to lack of funds, and local officials in Palo Alto, Menlo Park, and San Mateo Country have been lobbying for the past two years for an additional $700,000 in federal flood protection funds.

This year, in an effort to make a stronger case for its funding needs, the San Francisquito Creek's board of directors is including a YouTube video in their pitch to California state representatives: Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, and Palo Alto Rep. Anna Eshoo. This video shows the Palo Alto area's major highway and local airport completely submerged under water after the 1998 flood.

Thoughts on the Stimulus? Here's Your Direct Line to Congress

A month ago, we announced that Congress has come to YouTube - you can now find your Senator's and Representative's YouTube channels at the Senate Hub and the House Hub. Now, we're making it even easier for you to engage with your leaders and tell them what you think.

Each week, we'll highlight a video from a member of Congress that solicits questions or input from you about the country's most pressing issues. Using Google's new Moderator tool, you'll be able to not only submit your own responses through text, but also vote on other people's responses -- allowing the best submissions to rise to the top.
Today, we're kicking off with Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) who wants to know what you think about the economic stimulus package recently passed by Congress:

Do you think the stimulus package will succeed in creating more jobs for Americans? Was there something missing from the package? Head over to the Senate Hub to make your voice heard, then check back in a week to hear what Senator Cornyn has to say about the top responses.

Finally, this is the first time we've tried using Google Moderator on a YouTube channel, so let us know what you think.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

A Taste of Life in the Army Reserves

A few years ago, a sergeant in the US Army Reserves began toting a video camera around with him. Thus far, Sgt 1st class Chris Farley of the 88th Regional Readiness Command at Fort Snelling has created four seasons of his short episodic video program called "The Sight Picture," which gives civilians an insight into everything from what "meals ready to eat" really taste like to what it feels like to crawl through a muddy trench.

Farley set up a YouTube channel for "The Sight Picture," after sharing his videos with members of his Command group and getting lots of positive feedback. Episodes cover a wide range of issues, but aim to show the day-to-day experiences of soldiers serving in the Army Reserve. On the Sight Picture channel page, Farley writes: "The Sight Picture...serves as a channel for Army Reserve Soldiers to tell their story with their words and actions."

Take a look a the most recent episode:

Friday, February 13, 2009

Your Gettysburg Address

The Lincoln Amphitheater in Lincoln City, Indiana is calling for impressions of Honest Abe. Submit your rendition of the Gettysburg address by Feb. 26th, and you could win a free trip to the Lincoln Amphitheater - and it's sister attraction, Holiday World. Well, maybe it's not the sister attraction, but these are two great pieces of Americana in Indiana. Already they've snagged a few entries... get out your fake beard and join the party:

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Video of plane in flames after crashing into Buffalo suburb

A Continental Express flight en route from Newark, New Jersey to Buffalo, New York crashed into a home just hours ago in the suburban neighborhood of Clarence Center outside of Buffalo.

A resident who lives near the site of the crash captured footage from the scene just minutes afterwards. All 48 passengers, including four crew members, were killed. The cause of the crash is still undetermined.

Carrotmob Mentality

Does for-profit activism exist? A new initiative called Carrotmob is trying to find out, and they're using YouTube and other social media to help them along the way, according to a recent article in the Economist.

The idea is an interesting economical experiment -- activists challenge local retailers to prove how green they can be. The greenest store is rewarded with a slew of citizens buying them out of all of their merchandise, essentially proving in a very direct way that environmentalism and revenue generation can go hand-in-hand.

Here's a carrotmob in action:

How's Your News? Original, entertaining, moving.

The idea for "How's Your News?" began in a video production class at a summer camp for adults with disabilities 10 years ago. An eager group of campers started producing their own news show; interviewing people in the surrounding town and reporting the news for their community. Before they were famous, South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker got wind of these unique news programs, which were being passed around on video tapes, and chipped in some money for the "How's Your News?" reporters to create their first documentary film. From there, they were off to the races. The team created a YouTube channel in 2006, and just launched a weekly show on MTV, which debuted last Sunday at 10:30 pm EST/PST.

The show is getting lots of buzz.

Check out the "How's Your News?" trailer here:

Deadly Twister Ravages Oklahoma

A deadly tornado ravaged Lone Grove, Oklahoma yesterday. Residents with video cameras on hand captured footage of empty streets as ominous clouds formed and emergency alerts were broadcast.

User/daredevil blackcloudchasing actually followed the storm in a car, documenting the twister as it formed and touched ground, before killing 8, seriously injuring at least 14 more, and leaving a wake of destruction in its path.

CNN Plants Two Moles in Congress

Tech President reported this morning that CNN has given two flip cameras to freshman Congressman, Republican Jason Chaffetz of Utah and Democrat Jared Polis of Colorado, to chronicle their first year in Congress. CNN is dubbing it as a web reality show, "Freshman Year" - see an episode here:

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Next Barack Roll?

Last year, Google introduced Gaudi, an audio indexing tool which allows citizens to type a keyword or phrase into the search bar and easily pull up all of the political speeches which include that entry. In August, Hugh Atkin used the tool and wowed YouTube users with his video creation, the "Barack Roll" (the video has received over 6 million views).

Now nonprofits are jumping on the audio indexing train as well. The Energy Action Coalition, who is hosting a climate summit for 10,000 young activists in two weeks, has put together a spiffy recruitment video using the Google tool:

Want to try your hand at a political mash-up? Start your speech-to-text adventure here.

Republican Rep Calls for More Transparency

One of President Obama's stated priorities is bringing increased openness and transparency to Washington. And while some believe he's succeeding in that respect, Representative Tom Price (R-GA) begs to differ:

Price asserts that the Democrats are making deals about the proposed stimulus package behind closed doors, without Republicans or the public in attendance. To heighten the level of transparency surrounding Congressional affairs, Price is asking congressional leadership to televise House and Senate negotiations.

Good idea, Representative Price. But in addition to TV, how about YouTube?

Gay Marriage Stays in the YouTube Hot Seat

During the 2008 election, California's Proposition 8, a proposal to ban gay marriage in the state, was one of the most hotly debated items on the ballot. Both proponents and opponents of Prop 8 used YouTube liberally to get their message out to California voters.

Proposal 8 passed on November 4, but recently a new crop of YouTube videos have recently sprung up in an attempt to overturn it, including this one from the Courage Campaign:

This video, as well as those on the opposing side, have sparked vociferous comments, both for and against gay marriage. If these comments are any indication, it looks like this is a YouTube debate that's far from over.

Last Chance to Win a Trip with Nick Kristof!

Nicholas Kristof, famed New York Times columnist, is in search of a willing, able, and eager student to travel to Africa this spring and work alongside him as he reports for the Times.

Nick loves YouTube and even has his own channel. So he's reaching out to the YouTube community to submit video applications to accompany him on this next big trip. All you have to do is explain why you think he should pick you, and attach your video as a video response to his.

The deadline is THIS FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 13th. So, if you want a free trip to Africa as Nick Kristof's right-hand reporter, it's time to get the camera out.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Australia Wild Fires: Searing Images, Messages of Support

Residents of southern Australia are reeling from the massive bushfires that have ravaged the Victoria area for the last several days. With the death toll nearing 200, and 900 families displaced from their homes, it is proving to be one of the most devastating disasters in Australia's history.

Powerful images of the fires and their aftermath have been captured by news organizations and uploaded to YouTube, like this one from nocommentv. The images speak for themselves:

Meanwhile, average citizens from around the world are also using YouTube to respond to the crisis. From offering their well-wishes, to organizing rallies and encouraging donations, these citizens aren't just sitting back idly, but are using YouTube to help the residents of southern Australians during this difficult and tragic time:

Scorn for Corn

You might have seen this Corn Refiners of America ad on television, which purports that high-fructose corn syrup isn't that bad for you.

Citizens are begging to differ -- many have uploaded parodies of the ad to YouTube, making the case in creative ways that high-fructose corn syrup does indeed lead to health problems:

Though many of these ads are made in jest, they are also excellent examples of citizens holding corporations and issue lobbies responsible for the information they disseminate to the public.

The Israeli Election on YouTube

Today is Election Day in Israel and throughout the campaign season Israeli voters have been tracking the candidates on YouTube.

In December, YouTube launched an online elections platform, which allowed citizens to record and upload their questions for the three candidates -- Tsipi Livney, Ehud Barak and Benyamin Netanyahu. In all, 258 videos were submitted for consideration.

Following the model of the CNN/YouTube debates, the YouTube community voted and the best video questions were posed to the candidates during a live broadcast on Channel 2 News. The live debate was among the top 10 most-viewed shows of the week and Haaretz newspaper described it as "the hottest moment of this (Israeli) elections campaign."

If you're voting today and still undecided, here are some highlights from the broadcast:

PBS and Planet Forward

The spirit of change is in the air - literally. PBS has partnered with George Washington University Public Affairs Project, Nebraska Educational Telecommunications, Public Agenda and Sunburst Creative Productions and is taking submissions on how people think America’s energy future should be tackled at

Planet Forward will be hosted by Frank Sesno, former CNN Washington Bureau Chief and the director of GW’s Public Affairs Project. On the Planet Forward Web site, Sesno encourages people to submit anything from a “photo to an op-ed to digital animation or even a poem.” It starts March 6th, so happy uploading!

Planet Forward’s audience will probably be a little less broad than your typical YouTube crowd. A panel of experts, scientists, policy-makers, business leaders and citizen journalists will watch and then discuss the best submissions during the show’s live broadcast on April 15, 2009.

His Last Words on YouTube

This gripping video of a Polish hostage in the hands of the Taliban in Afghanistan has been making the rounds on YouTube the past 24 hours... it shows militants engaging in what seems to be a staged conversation with the Polish engineer, Piotr Stanczak, goading him into such statements as, "the Polish government should break relations with Pakistan." The 7 minute clip was given to the Associated Press, and the last moments of the video (which the AP has not released) capture 3 militants beheading their hostage on video.

The AP reports that, "A spokesman for the Taleban in northwestern Pakistan said on Saturday they killed Stanczak because the government missed a deadline to release 26 prisoners.

"Armed men pulled Stanczak from his car on September 28 after killing three Pakistanis travelling with him near the city of Attock in northwestern Pakistan, a lawless region believed to be a possible hiding place for Osama bin Laden and other al-Qaida leaders."

Monday, February 9, 2009

Citizens Capture Beijing on Fire

The Mandarin Hotel in downtown Beijing, home to the China Central Television (CCTV) headquarters, burst into flames earlier today. The cause of the fire is suspected to be fireworks set off in celebration of the final day of the Chinese Lunar New Year.

There are already a number of incredible videos of the raging fires captured by people on the ground in Beijing.

Here's a playlist of some of the earliest clips uploaded to YouTube:

Save Yourself a Paper Cut, File Your Taxes Online

As tax season approaches, the Maryland state Comptroller is bringing a little humor to an otherwise somber topic. In this YouTube video, which spoofs a popular Bud Light ad campaign, Maryland residents are encouraged to pay their taxes online instead of in the mail. The crooning voice of the announcer and his back-up singers rhapsodize about just how painful filing paper returns can be. To help "Mr. Frustrated Taxpayer," Comptroller Peter Franchot urges Md. residents to save time and effort by filing online.

Rapping the News

Tired of listening to NPR on your way to work to get the news of the day? Users like MCMrNapkins and BretterDays are making it more digestible by serving up the top news stories with some tight beats.

In MCMrNapkins's video series "Headline Anagram Jamma" he takes it one step further and actually rearranges all of the letters in the week's headlines into new words and phrases.

Check it out:

Friday, February 6, 2009

"Talk To Us" for a chance to be on TV, New York's public television station, has partnered with Worldfocus and GroundReport on a citizen media initiative called "Talk To Us." Now, any citizen from around the world can share their thoughts on the top news stories of the day by submitting a video to the Talk To Us YouTube channel. The best videos will be selected by the producers of Worldfocus and broadcast on television to an audience of hundreds of thousands.

Their first question in the series is: "Our new president has talked a lot about listening to our global neighbors. What's YOUR advice for President Barack Obama."

Users can post their replies as video responses to this call-out video:

Reporting from Kuwait City: Your Congressman

The Daily Show may have given Republican Eric Cantor a hard time over his new YouTube channel earlier this week, but the truth is Cantor is doing some innovative things on the site, for a Congressman. Currently on a trip through the Middle East with fellow representative Kevin McCarthy, Cantor is video-blogging from the road. His staff tells us he brought along a flip cam for the purpose - proving you don't need a fancy video crew to keep constituents updated on your work. Check out his first post from Kuwait City - more to come.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Transcripts Released for US Airways Flight 1549

Today, the FAA released the audio tapes of the conversation between the air traffic controller at LaGuardia airport and the pilot of US Airways Flight 1549, which crash landed into the Hudson River last month. Listen to the transcript here, with visuals provided by the Associated Press.

Drink Dirty Water for Charity

Would you drink a glass of filthy water? That's the question YouTube user ijustine is asking in an effort to raise money for YouTube nonprofit partner charity:water:

Now ijustine is trying to create a viral awareness storm about the need for increased access to safe drinking water in developing countries by asking YouTube users to make videos in which they too hold up a glass of dirty water.

She's succeeding -- in the past two days, 98 people have uploaded response videos.

She'll be mashing up the best response videos and playing them at the first-ever Twestival, a Twitter-organized charity event that will take place in over 185 cities to raise money for charity:water. To find a Twestival near you, you can visit

The Funniest Political Video You'll See This Week - and it's NOT on YouTube

Florida Teens in Video-taped Beating Plead Guilty

Two Florida teenage girls who were caught on video beating up a friend who was "trash-talking" them have now plead guilty and could face up to a year in detention. Though the beating was never posted to YouTube, the victim had planned to - and regardless the case became known as the "YouTube beating case."

Probably the most famous case of personal violence caught on tape in the past few months was the BART shooting in Oakland, in which a citizen captured a police officer shooting a man on a BART platform, seemingly unprovoked. While security cameras caught the same incident, it was the citizen's cell-phone version that caught the most compelling angle and demonstrated that the officer seemed to show a level of shock when he realized he's shot the man.

Here at YouTube we call this 360 degree reporting... events everywhere not only have the chance of being caught on video by someone somehow, but there's also the likelihood that multiple angles of the same event can provide a clearer sense of what happened than ever before.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Change Is Coming to "The Fix"

The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza, an active YouTube user and author of the popular politics blog, "The Fix," needs a little help in determining his future. It's a time for new beginnings, Cillizza explains in his latest "FixCam" video post, not only because of the new President and the impending arrival of Cillizza's first child, but also because of a new DAILY incarnation of the FixCam series.

Cillizza used YouTube throughout the campaign season to do a "Week In Preview" video post every Monday. But he's ready to try something different, and he's asking the YouTube community and loyal Fix followers to share ideas about what they would like to see.

Using the Google Moderator tool, you can submit your suggestions for Cillizza for what he should do with his daily video blog post. How do you want this connected political reporter with access to the insiders in Washington to use YouTube?

Submit your thoughts, ideas, and suggestions here: and vote on others'. Cillizza will look at the top ranked submissions and then plan his new FixCam show accordingly.

Put in your two cents!