Sunday, May 31, 2009

Getting an 18-month lead on Political Gaffes

Interesting piece in the Miami Herald-Tribune this morning about Democratic Rep. Keith Fitzgerald, who spotted a video camera-toting Republican oppo-researcher in the back of the room at a recent speech he gave in his home district in Florida.

'"Is this what it has really come to?" asked Fitzgerald, first elected to the Legislature in 2006 to represent northern Sarasota County and a portion of southern Manatee.", the Herald-Tribune reported.

Actually, it came to this quite some time ago. And the RNC is smart to start now, even though the mid-term elections are a year and a half off. If nothing else, following your opponents has the effect of annoying them and throwing them off their game, even if you don't catch them in a gaffe.

Read more in the full article, here.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Have a question for Virginia's Democratic gubernatorial candidates?

[cross-posted from Google public policy blog]

Virginia voters - want to know what your next governor is going to do about traffic, taxes, or schools? You have just two more days to ask -- through YouTube or Google Moderator.

Google and YouTube teamed up with the Politico and ABC 7/WJLA-TV to launch a digital interview series for Virginia's Democratic gubernatorial primary. All three candidates -- Terry McAuliffe, Creigh Deeds, and Brian Moran -- have agreed to participate.

Make sure to tune in June 3 at 8 p.m. ET on ABC 7/WJLA-TV to hear the candidates answer questions direct from voters like this:

The United Nations' Latest Mission

Though the United Nations has had a presence on YouTube for several years, it recently re-vamped and re-launched its channel with the goal of providing more relevant videos to citizens around the world. Now, you can find pertinent information about a wide range of topics including peace and security, social and economic development, human rights and climate change.

In its new incarnation, the UN's YouTube channel is particularly focused on providing timely content. Today, to mark the International Day of Peacekeepers, they released this video to highlight the fact that in 2008, 130 peacekeepers lost their lives in the line of duty -- the highest one-year total in the UN's history. They've also uploaded this piece, which takes a deeper dive into the unique challenges that female agents of peace face.

The UN is also uploading some unexpected videos to their channel. Sure, you can still find statements from Secretary General Ban Ki Moon and information about the latest UN endeavor to save lives. But you can also discover archival footage of Che Guevera speaking on the UN floor in 1964 or immerse yourself in this retrospective of sci-fi classic Battlestar Galactica:

So take a few minutes to peruse the UN's updated channel -- you may find information you were looking for, or stumble across a great video you didn't think you'd find.

Ramya Raghavan
YouTube Nonprofits & Activism

Chk Chk Boom Girl

In case you hadn't seen it already, it's worth examining the story of the "Chk Chk Boom" girl on YouTube... who faked witnessing a street crime just to ride fleeting Internet fame on YouTube. She's quite convincing in this clip below, but read THIS STORY to unravel the bizarre details. A great read for any 21st century internet sociologist.

21st Century Statecraft: Secretary Clinton asks Americans to be "Citizen Ambassadors"

Fresh on the heels of our launch of the U.S. Government Channel on YouTube last week, Secretary Clinton just posted a video to the State Department's YouTube channel on the topic of "21st Century Statecraft." Aimed at Americans, the video lives on State's long-running public affairs YouTube channel. The video not only outlines the department's efforts to use online tools to engage in public diplomacy, but it also serves as a call to action for citizens to "share experiences" and become citizen ambassadors on their own.

Secretary Clinton has shown she's engaged online by holding an online town hall during the Summit of the Americas, and she's signaled she's serious about using new tools in diplomacy by hiring Alec Ross, a tech entrepreneur, as her "Senior Advisor for Innovation". But this video seems to be a recognition that, while leaders can use online tools for diplomacy just like President Obama recently did with Iran, ultimately the meaningful conversations that bridge borders happen between citizens, not their elected officials.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

An Astronaut Takes Your Questions Before Heading to Space

European Space Agency astronaut Frank De Winne is heading into space any day now as part of the OasISS mission to live on an International Space Station. But before his departure, he invited the YouTube community to ask him questions about space exploration and what it's really like to be an astronaut.

Here's Frank's original video asking for questions:

You can browse some of his responses here.

But don't miss Frank's response to a question posed by a student in Birmingham: "What is your view like from the space station?"

And curious what Frank does during his spare time in space?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Davos Debates: Will All of Africa Benefit From the 2010 World Cup?

We're about a year away from the 19th FIFA World Cup in South Africa. As the most viewed sporting event in the world, people's attentions will be directed towards Africa as a whole, which is hosting the tournament for the very first time. But will the World Cup have a positive effect on the continent overall?

This is the latest question to be posed by the World Economic Forum in their Davos Debates series, ahead of the Forum's Africa Summit in Cape Town next month.

Vote and post your video response to the Davos Debates channel - the most insightful will be shown to political leaders attending the summit, who will also be sharing their reactions.

Looking forward to hearing your responses,
Tom Pursey
Product Marketing

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

"Do Something" Good on YouTube

Young people today, often referred to as "the Millennial Generation," have been characterized as a group that is particularly passionate about giving back to their communities. That's why YouTube is excited to partner with Do Something on this year's "Do Something Awards," an annual competition that identifies exceptional young social entrepreneurs, activists, and community leaders who are changing the world.

Do Something has selected five finalists who have already made a significant impact in the fields of muscular dystrophy research, global poverty, HIV/AIDS awareness, voting enfranchisement, and education for refugees. All five of the inspirational young finalists will receive $10,000 for their cause, but only one will receive the Grand Prize of $100,000. And it's up to you, YouTube, to decide which cause deserves the money the most:

To learn more about the finalists and the issues they are passionate about, check out these video profiles:

Voting starts today on the Do Something YouTube channel and ends on June 4, when the winner will be announced at a live awards show and concert at the famous Apollo Theater in New York City. So get voting, and if you feel really inspired, do something to inspire change in your community.

Ramya Raghavan
YouTube Nonprofits & Activism

Monday, May 25, 2009

Commemorating Memorial Day on YouTube

[Posted by U.S. Army SGT Dale Sweetnam, Global Communications & Public Affairs - Cross-posted from the Google Public Policy Blog]

Today is Memorial Day in the United States, a day of remembrance that was first observed in 1868 to pay tribute to Union and Confederate soldiers who had died in the Civil War. Over the years, Americans have commemorated the day in different ways -- from wearing red poppies, to decorating graves, to attending military parades.

More recently, people from across the country -- including the President and several Members of Congress -- are using YouTube to share their reflections on what the day means to them.

Congressman Joe Donnelly of Indiana told the stories of Lance Corporal Cameron Babcock, Sergeant Joseph Ford, and Private Randy Stabnik, three fallen troops from his home district, in a speech on the floor of the House of Representatives, which he later posted to YouTube:

Congressman Denny Rehberg of Montana uploaded this tribute to his official YouTube channel:

Meanwhile, troops and government employees deployed around the world are sending virtual Memorial Day greetings to their friends and family back home via DIVIDS, an online system for sharing news, images, and video from military operations around the world.

Wishing you a safe Memorial Day weekend.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Open Government on YouTube

We announced earlier this week the launch of the U.S. Government Channel on YouTube, but that was just one of the announcements to come out of Washington this week on transparency and open government. The White House also announced the Open Government initiative, an effort to get citizens engaged in policy-making by opening up government data and soliciting feedback from people online.

The two main projects launched with this initiative are and, sites where citizens can access public data and public comments on federal data and government operations.

The government has also partnered with us to launch a special YouTube channel called OpenGov, where they distribute video content on the topic of open government. You can learn more in two of their first YouTube videos, posted by Valerie Jarrett and Vivek Kundra:

Friday, May 22, 2009

Battleground Virginia: Citizen-powered Interview Series

Today we launched an interview series for the Democratic Gubernatorial primary, in partnership with the Politico, WJLA, and Google Moderator. Virginians can submit questions to a new Moderator page (video questions highly encouraged), right here.

On June 3rd, WJLA will broadcast the interviews on television... all three candidates - Terry McAuliffe, Creigh Deeds, and Brian Moran - have agreed to participate. Learn more from the Politico, here.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The U.S. Government Comes to YouTube

Spacemen floating through the international space station. World leaders sending messages across borders. A life-sized slice of pizza explaining how to apply for a passport. Sound like outtakes from the latest Hollywood movies? Actually, these videos are part of the new U.S. Government portal on YouTube.

That's right, your federal government has come to YouTube. You may have noticed that President Obama has been posting weekly addresses to the White House YouTube channel since inauguration. Now, there are dozens of official federal YouTube channels where you can access footage from NASA, the State Department, the FBI, the CDC, and more. It's all part of making Washington, D.C., more transparent and accessible than ever before -- and helping you easily navigate government information that's relevant to your life.

The U.S. Government channel is located at, a nifty hub that links off to dozens of federal government channels on YouTube, from the Social Security Administration to the Environmental Protection Agency, with others to be added in the coming months. Learn more in this video from the White House New Media office, and take a spin through this playlist to see some highlights so far:

Our federal leaders and civil servants aren't just on YouTube to distribute video; they're here to engage with you in a way that only YouTube makes possible. So leave your comments, rankings, and ideas for these agencies on any of their videos to ensure that your voice is heard on the issues you care about. Reach out to your local government as well and encourage local officials to start posting footage to YouTube. By exposing everything from committee hearings to planning meetings, we can make our civic lives more open than ever before. Ultimately, it will help us hold public servants accountable for the jobs we've hired them to do.

Steve Grove
YouTube News & Politics

Monday, May 18, 2009

Cell Phones, Celebrities, Congo & You

We've seen both nonprofits and the YouTube community use the site to run powerful campaigns that raise awareness for important issues. But we want to do more than just be a platform for grassroots activism. That's where Video for Change comes in: It's a new initiative that helps nonprofit partners connect with you in a high-profile environment to initiate meaningful change.

Our first Video for Change program features an organization called the Enough Project. They've been on YouTube for over a year, calling attention to issues that don't get much coverage in the mainstream media. For the "Come Clean 4 Congo" contest, Enough wants you to create a compelling video about the "conflict minerals" used in cell phones and the war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo –- the deadliest war since World War II.

Learn more here:

The creator of the winning video will be flown to Los Angeles, where his or her work will be screened at a star-studded entertainment industry event. Your video will be viewed by a panel of judges that will include Oscar-nominated actor Ryan Gosling, actress Sonya Walger from ABC's Lost, and Oscar-nominated director Wim Wenders. The "Come Clean 4 Congo" contest is limited to U.S. residents -- you can find complete contest rules here.

So do what you do best, YouTube -- get creative. Make a video and submit it at Use video to make a change now.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Dead Lawyer's Video Accusation Causes Chaos in Guatemala

Tensions are heating up
in Guatemala after President Alvaro Colom was accused of ordering the murder of Guatemalan lawyer Rodrigo Rosenberg. Rosenberg represented Khalil Musa, a man who had been at odds with the Colom administration and was also recently murdered. After Rosenberg's own death, police found a video testimonial recorded by Rosenberg just days before he was shot to death, in which he accuses the President and his followers of killing him, as well as Musa and his daughter.

The video, which was released by the police at his funeral, shows Rosenberg sitting in the office of journalist Mario David Garcia talking straight into the camera. He calls out Colom and and Colom's Cabinet chief by name. "If you are hearing or seeing this message," says Rosenberg, "it's because I was assassinated by President Álvaro Colom, with the help of Mr. Gustavo Alejos and Mr. Gregorio Valdez."

He goes on to say:

"I was a 47 year old Guatemalan, with 4 beautiful children, with the best brother one could ask of life, with wonderful friends, and with an overwhelming desire to live in my country, but I could not have lived with myself without rebelling, arming myself with valor and denouncing the real reasons for the deaths of Mister Khalil Musa and his daughter Marjorie Musa before all the Guatemalans who have principles and values, without regarding the consequences, and understanding that my life was in danger, I wanted to leave behind this testimony, should something come to happen to me, as it unfortunately did."

Since the video's release, copies have spread widely across the internet and have been viewed hundreds of thousands of times on YouTube. Guatemala has gone into a state of unrest, and though President Colom denies the charges, thousands of people all over the country are protesting and demanding that Colom resign.

Below is a version of Rosenberg's video with English subtitles. Full transcript in English can be found here.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Grist's Fundraising Lockdown, Vlogged Daily on YouTube

We've seen YouTube users do some pretty interesting things to raise money before, but environmental nonprofit/news outlet Grist may be taking home the prize. The Grist staff has locked themselves inside their Seattle headquarters and are refusing to exit the building until citizens donate $50,000 to the organization. And they're vlogging their whole experience on YouTube. Here's their Day 9 recap:

I'd venture that any fundraiser that involves marathon card-playing is probably a neat idea. Trying to decide whether to open your wallet to spring the Grist staff? Their YouTube channel provides some good background as to what the organization's all about.

What is Democracy? The State Department and YouTube Put it to a Vote

Often when organizations turn to YouTube to run programs, they lack pop. It's become somewhat passe to create an initiative and ask people to "submit a video"... so if you don't get the elements of your program right, you'll be doing good to get even a handful of replies. Which is one reason why the State Department's Democracy Video Challenge on YouTube has been so impressive - they asked a simple question last fall - "What is Democracy?" - and got over 900 entries from around the world.

Today, they've announced their 18 finalists - and you can vote on your favorites through June 15 at We've been proud partners in this initiative along with several civic organizations and NBC Universal.

Things are different at the State Department these days. At the Bureau for International Information Programs (called the IIP - they are the part of State whose job is international public diplomacy) the mission has changed. Their tag line used to be, "Telling America's Story"... now, it's "Engaging the World". Tag lines may seem irrelevant, but the shift here is real: State realizes that just telling the rest of the world how America works isn't enough in an age where information is available from almost infinite sources. "Engaging the World" means starting a conversation, and listening.

So the Democracy Video Challenge program wasn't set up to tell the world what democracy is, but rather to ask the world what democracy is. Turns out there are a lot of different answers - many which wouldn't probably wouldn't mesh with the State Department's official definitions. But the mere fact that the US is asking people what they think is symbol in and of itself of democracy well-practiced.

Just in the past few years, YouTube has opened up a new era of diplomacy. In March, President Obama used YouTube to reach out directly to Iranians during their national holiday, Nowruz, with this special message subtitled in Farsi. A year before that, Tony Blair congratulated Nicolas Sarkozy on his victory in the French Election, with this YouTube hit that he recorded both in English and in French. And Queen Rania of Jordan has been perhaps YouTube's most popular diplomat, using her YouTube channel to fight Arab stereotypes through dialogue with YouTube users.

But no world leader would argue against the power of the citizen-to-citizen communication that the Internet has empowered to cross cultural borders. The power of platforms like YouTube to communicate with people in distant land directly has a strong effect on our vision of who they are, and who we are. It has a humanizing effect. If you know what someone looks like and how they feel about the world around them, it's hard to put them in a box or consider them foreign.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

9-year-old uses YouTube to save kickball lot

This is a great story about a 9-year-old kid in Pittsburgh, PA who used YouTube to protest a new development in his neighborhood that would ruin his favorite kickball lot.

WTAE.TV reports:

"Worried that a favorite kickball lot in the city's Ridgemont neighborhood would be overrun with traffic, Tre Hanis dressed like a TV news reporter and hit the streets to talk about proposed new housing that he said would more than double the community's size.

The plea may have worked. In a preliminary vote Wednesday, all but one member of City Council voted against a zoning change that would allow residential development of 10 forested acres on a 26-acre site near Hamburg Street, along the city's border with Green Tree."

Check it out: NASA is YouTubing from Space

From the "this is awesome" file:

Politics Heat Up On YouTube UK

The past couple of weeks have been interesting ones in UK politics as the whole issue of MP expenses has hit the headlines -- not least because YouTube has played an interesting role in the commentary.

The starting point for his was Gordon Brown's exclusive announcement/suggestion via the 10 Downing Street channel that MPs might be given a daily allowance rather than annualised expenses. While the content of his address has resulted in some commentary, its nature has generated more.

This conversation, from an interesting channel which looks to engage young people with politics, is telling in that it not only compares Gordon Brown's YouTube performances with those of Barack Obama, it asks the question of whether or not politicians should 'use' YouTube full stop. And if so, how best they might go about it.

Given that Brown recently recruited two of Obama's campaign strategists to his team, it seems that this question is very much one his people are looking to address.

But the reverberations of Brown's video reached still further, prompting a leader in The Times -- bolstered by a secondary article -- attacking the fact that 10 Downing Street has disabled comments on all videos, suggesting that he wished to suppress any real debate and was simply using YouTube for show.

It's interesting that discussions are beginning to extend beyond what is actually said on by politicians on YouTube, to how the site is actually being utilized.

-- Jamie, YouTube's UK Community Manager

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Story of Stuff Sees a Second Wave of Interest

A few weeks ago, we blogged about Free Range Studios, who create clever cause-related animated videos. This week, one of their more famous creations, The Story of Stuff -- a 20-minute animated video about mass consumption in American society -- saw a resurgence when it was written up in the New York Times.

Interestingly, in the case of the Story of Stuff, the video led to a nonprofit, rather than the other way around. Also, the article highlights how YouTube video responses have been used to keep the dialog about the issue alive.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Undercover (and vibrantly alive) in Cuba

One of Time's top 25 blogs for 2009 is "Generacion Y" by 38-year-old Havana webmaster and editor Yoani Sánchez. The blog is, in her words, "an exercise in cowardice," because it allows her say things she can't say out loud in Cuba.

The videos Sanchez embeds here, some recorded by her, take you straight to the heart of Cuba -- both undercover and vibrantly above ground.

She posted this video yesterday, in which she and a friend use a hidden camera to explore whether Internet access is banned for Cubans from a local hotel. When they find that it is, they make a point to tell the authority that it is in violation of their rights. That's Yoani behind the newspaper.

Another embed is a shaky recording of an "unforgettable night" with performance artist Tania Bruguera. As part of the installation, there was a podium in front of a red curtain, and anyone could talk about whatever they wanted in just one minute. Yoani writes that she never had access to so many microphones and so: "I prepared a speech on freedom of expression, censorship, blogs, and that elusive tool that is the Internet. In front of the lenses of national television and protected by the foreign guests at the X Havana Biennial, I was followed by shouts of “Freedom,” “Democracy,” and even open challenges to the Cuban authorities. I remember one boy of twenty who confessed that he had never felt more free."

(post by Mia Q.)

NY Health Chief Pushes Soda Tax on YouTube... but Doesn't Target Mentos

We just discovered this... last fall, New York's chief health official Richard Daines took to YouTube to explain to citizens just how bad soda is for you. Using a few props and a basic camcorder, he studiously goes through he links between soda consumption and obesity - all to promote Governor Patterson's proposed "Soda Tax". The WSJ reports that, "the CBO has estimated that adding a tax of three cents per 12-ounce serving to these types of sweetened drinks would generate $24 billion over the next four years."

There's been more talk of this issue in the NY Senate recently... let's see if Dr. Daines video helps push the cause forward - already almost 70K views on YouTube:

Friday, May 8, 2009

NASA Taps YouTube for Social Media in Space

International Space Station astronaut Mark Polansky has just posted a video on NASA's YouTube channel inviting users to post questions to him using the video response format, and send him links via Twitter -- you can be one of the first to follow his channel here. He'll be responding (in space!) live on NASA Television.

Forty years ago this coming July 20th, Neil Armstrong broadcast his first steps on the moon to the world via flickery TV images. Today, NASA engages space-exploration fans via YouTube and social media. A small, and exciting step for a video sharing platform...

Seeing Red on YouTube

Today is World Red Cross Day and the commemoration marks over 60 years of the Red Cross preparing communities for emergencies and providing disaster relief to those in need. Over the past few years, the organization has been using YouTube to help achieve these objectives.

For example, the British Red Cross posted this nine-video how-to series about first aid. The videos cover everything from how to perform CPR to how to treat a burn. Not to be outdone, the American Red Cross has just uploaded sixteen very pertinent videos all about swine flu, including information about how it spreads and how to prevent infection.

In addition, today the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies will launch an ambitious new campaign, called "Our World. Your Move," which aims to raise awareness of today's most pressing humanitarian challenges and highlight the power of individuals to make a difference. Interested in taking part? This animated short can serve as your introduction:


Ramya Raghavan
YouTube Nonprofits & Activism

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Senator Dorgan Addresses Your Ideas About Solar Energy and "Vampire Devices"

Last week on the Senate Hub, Senator of the Week Byron Dorgan (D-ND) asked for your ideas on energy policy, noting the fact that the Senate is currently in the process of drafting new energy legislation.

Using Google Moderator, you submitted a number of specific suggestions including installing solar panels on government buildings and addressing those terrifying "vampire devices" (appliances that sit idle continuously wasting electricity). In this video, Senator Dorgan responds to your top-rated suggestions:

If you'd like to continue the conversation with Senator Dorgan about energy policy, you can visit his YouTube channel and post a comment or a video response.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Indian Citizens Sound Off on Terrorism, Elections and Obama

Launched less than a year ago, the India Voices YouTube channel is an effort to create a common platform where citizens from all over India can make their voices heard on the most pressing local and global issues. If you're looking for candid commentary from Indian citizens about terrorism, the Indian elections, or the Bihar floods, you can find plenty of it at

The focus, however, isn't entirely on Indian news and politics. This video, for example, features a young Indian man expressing his concern about Obama and outsourcing:

Marco Rubio Announces Candidacy on YouTube

Think 2010 was still the distant future? Not if you're running for federal office. GOP Senate hopeful Marco Rubio just announced his candidacy for the U.S. Senate in Florida on YouTube.

Condoleeza Rice meets YouTube

It's hitting the blogs (good post by Ari Melber at Tech President) and for good reason - this interaction between former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and some students at Stanford is fascinating. Whether or not you agree with Rice's positions, its obvious she's flustered by the interrogation from students. Some are calling it her Macaca moment. Not sure I'd go that far, but it's compelling citizen-reported content:

Monday, May 4, 2009

Mia Farrow Fasts for Darfur; Vlogs on YouTube

Actress Mia Farrow and other passionate activists have launched a hunger strike to raise awareness about the 4.7 million people in Darfur who are currently facing starvation. Farrow is currently vlogging her experiences daily on fastdarfur's YouTube channel. Here's today's entry:

To learn more about the effort, you can find several videos about the plight of the Sudanese on the fastdarfur YouTube channel or you can visit

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Obama Girl to Gordon Brown

"Obama Girl", Ambert Lee Ettinger, was asked by the BBC to give U.K. Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who's had a tough time on YouTube of late, some tips on how to make more of his YouTube channel.

Check it out here

Friday, May 1, 2009

Davos Debates hit the Middle East

Our partnership with the World Economic Forum is moving beyond Davos - we're now focusing on the WEF on the Middle East, coming up on May 15 at the Dead Sea in Jordan. And once again you can participate by checking out the Davos Debates YouTube channel and submitting your ideas on key questions - top videos will be shared with the world leaders in Jordan.

Learn more here from Sherif El Diwany, Head of Middle East at the World Economic Forum.