Friday, July 31, 2009

JK Wedding Couple Says "I Do (Good)"

Unless you've been living under a rock for the past week, you've probably seen this YouTube video of a particularly dance-tastic Minnesota wedding, set to Chris Brown's "Forever". Though they love the song, the happy couple isn't too pleased with Brown's record of domestic violence -- so Jill and Kevin, both social justice advocates, have launched a new site, where they're asking for donations to combat domestic violence.

On their site, they say, "due to the circumstances surrounding the song in our wedding video, we have chosen the Sheila Wellstone Institute. Sheila Wellstone was an advocate, organizer, and national champion in the effort to end domestic violence in our communities."

Hats off to Jill and Kevin for using their fifteen minutes of fame to raise awareness of this important issue.

Amplifying protests to Congress on YouTube

UPDATE: great piece on this same topic by Nancy Scola over at TechPresident

There's a great piece in the Politico this morning about the number of un-ruley political townhalls that have taken place in the past few months. As Members of Congress head back to their districts to take the pulse of their constituents, citizens who are angry about everything from stimulus dollars to the President's birth certificate are making themselves heard.

Many of these moments have been captured on YouTube. Congressman Mike Castle's (R-DE) town hall exploded over a conflict stirred by "birthers" who questioned the President's citizenship; Congressman Tim Bishop (D-NY) had to be escorted to his car after a townhall "gone wild" over taxpayer dollars being spent on the stimulus package; and "hundreds of protesters" came out to heckle Allen Boyd (D-Fla) over stimulus spending in Panama City, Fla earlier this month.

Of course, all of these protests are speaking to an audience wider than just their Representative - the protest videos broadcast on YouTube are getting thousands (in some cases, hundreds of thousands) of views. That fact is surely not lost on the citizens who are posting these videos to the site. A protest over the stimulus package to an audience of a 100 people at a town hall meeting can suddenly reach an exponentially larger national audience, so long as the protester's actions were intense or interesting enough to gain attention. Suddenly, a dozen protests held in a dozen locations string together into something much larger online.

Despite the risks politicians face in calling public gatherings with constituents, town halls are all the rage these days. President Obama seems to be calling a health care town hall almost every week - sometimes taking questions posted to YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and other sites. While the discussion fostered by these online platforms ranges widely and often stimulates both high- and low-brow submissions, the ability for platforms like Google Moderator and Digg to let the wisdom of crowds vote up the most pressing and important questions has a civilizing effect on the dialogue. For all the bad rap the Internet can get for providing a potent combination of anonymity and access that can lead to guttural conversation, when the democratic features of these platforms are harnessed, they can actually make engagement more civil than some of the live, in-person town halls we've seen posted to YouTube in recent weeks.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

A word from the citizens of Santa Cruz, CA

Sometimes we forget how much fun local government can be. And it takes things like this video of the public comment portion of the Santa Cruz City Council/Board of Supervisors meeting to remind us:

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Porn stars and exploding cars: politics goes Hollywood

A porn star decides to run for Senate. She recruits an operative from across the aisle to work for her. The operative gets his car blown to smithereens.

This may sound like the plot for the latest Hollywood blockbuster or Grisham's newest novel but these events actually happened. Yesterday, Brian Welsh, a Democrat who crossed party lines to work for porn star Stormy Daniel's Senate race in Louisiana, discovered that his car had been blown up.

The car was conveniently located across the street from a surveillance camera and videos of the entire incident have been uploaded to Brian Welsh's YouTube channel. One is even titled, "My car blows up real good."

Monday, July 27, 2009

U.S. Senate passes the VOICE Act to combat web censorship in Iran

Last Thursday, the Senate voted unanimously to adopt the Victims of Iranian Censorship (VOICE) Act, which authorizes up to $50 million for projects to help Iranians bypass government attempts to censor communication and expression via the Internet. It was drafted and put forth as part of the National Defense Authorization Act by a bipartisan team consisting of Senators John McCain (R-AZ), Joseph Lieberman (ID-CT), Ted Kaufman (D-DE), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and Robert Casey (D-PA), and is, in large part, a response to the Iranian government's violent crackdown on the widespread protests that erupted after a disputed presidential election held in Iran on June 12.

We've been blogging about the post-election protests here on CitizenTube as footage of violent clashes between protesters and the police has been streaming into YouTube, captured by citizens on the streets of Tehran.

Since the election, many websites, including YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook, have been blocked in Iran at various times since the election. At YouTube, we've been experiencing only about 10% of our normal traffic from Iranian IP addresses. And reports indicate that the Iranian government has been using information about visitors to these and other websites to track and monitor protesters.

The VOICE Act is meant to help address some of these problems by doing a number of important things:
  • It forces an examination of non-Iranian (especially U.S.) corporations that have provided technology to the Iranian government that was subsequently used to censor voices of dissent and identify individuals who were speaking out against the government.
  • It makes $30 million available to the Broadcasting Board of Governors to do more Farsi language broadcasting in Iran and develop technologies that will help block Iranian government's attempts to block Internet access and data transfer over cellular phone networks.
  • An additional $20 million is set aside for an education program called the "Iranian Electronic Education, Exchange, and Media Fund," which is designed to help Iranians learn how to circumvent blocked websites and share information more freely.
  • And finally, $5 million for Secretary of State Clinton to "document, collect, and disseminate information about human rights in Iran, including abuses of human rights that have taken place since the June 12 Iranian election."

This is a big win in the battle against Internet censorship, and will help ensure that Iranians continue to be able to speak their minds freely and share what's happening inside their country with the rest of the world as they've been doing with great bravery and diligence since June 12.

News in 3D!

We've just been tipped off to what might well be the first news report shot in 3D. After hearing about YouTube's new 3D feature last week, CTV SWO, the Southwestern Ontario regional branch of Canadian broadcaster CTV, produced this story about a pig farmer rally.

And here's their "how-to" video, explaining how they created their first 3D news story:

Friday, July 24, 2009

The story behind the story

What do news anchors do during commercial breaks?

Find out for yourself:

YouTube users respond to "Gates-Gate"

You've probably heard about the controversial arrest of Henry Louis Gates, Jr - an esteemed scholar of African-American history and literature at Harvard - who was taken into custody last week by Cambridge police officer, James Crowley, for "disorderly conduct." The quick backstory is that Gates had lost his keys and was trying to get into his own home, and a neighbor who did not recognize him decided to call the police and report a possible break-in attempt. Crowley was the police officer who responded to the call, and when he approached the house, he found a very angry Gates who was not happy about having to explain himself. After some allegedly heated back-and-forth (the details are still not entirely clear), Crowley ended up arresting Gates in front of his home, and Gates ended up accusing Crowley of being a racist. Though charges have been dropped, Gates is still mad, and Crowley refuses to apologize.

The incident has set the blogosphere ablaze about whether or not the color of Gates' skin had an impact on how events played out. Was it racial profiling? Was Office Crowley doing his job? Would this have happened if Gates had lighter skin? Even President Obama offered his two cents during his press conference on Wednesday, stirring up even more discussion and debate.

Members of the YouTube community are joining the national conversation, too, and posting video responses to YouTube. Check out a few below:

Xpandergt argues that what happened is not "racial profiling":

Zennie62 weighs in with his perspective about how race may have played a role:

TheArtofTheComment blames the media and public discourse for pushing "aside our efforts at critical thinking in favor of making broad partisan statements about race relations":

User joegully calls Gates a "disgrace" for using race to draw attention to himself:

A representative from ConservativeNewMedia shares his thoughts on Obama's remarks about the Gates incident:

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Where in the world are people watching Obama's YouTube videos?

Today, YouTube announced that users now have the ability to make statistical information about their videos (collected in YouTube Insight) available publicly to anyone watching their videos on YouTube.

The White House quickly seized this opportunity to share information about how their video content is being consumed, and by who. And on the White House blog today, they shared some particularly intriguing information about which of their YouTube videos are popular in which areas of the world. According the White House, "President Obama's video message to the Iranian people on the Nowruz holiday was our third most viewed video overall and most viewed in Iran."

In addition, they note, "the President's speech to the Muslim World in Cairo was also widely viewed and was especially popular in the US, Egypt, Nigeria, and Tanzania."

The White House has posted several other examples on their blog that are worth checking out. And you can always stay up-to-date on who is watching the White House channel by visiting the official White House channel on YouTube, clicking on the video you'd like to learn more about, clicking "View comments, related videos, and more" and finally choosing the "Statistics & Data" link.

Who Goes to the Hollywood Film Festival? You Decide.

In May, we asked you to participate in our first-ever Video for Change program, the Enough Project's Come Clean 4 Congo contest, by making short videos that illustrate the tie between the minerals in cell phones and the ongoing war in the Congo.

You responded by submitting many excellent videos that increased public awareness of this important, but under-exposed, issue. In the end, our panel of judges (actor Ryan Gosling, director Wim Wenders, and Lost actress Sonia Walger) narrowed the entries down to three semi-finalists. Now, as Walger notes, it's up to you to choose the final winner:

The winner will receive a trip to Los Angeles where his/her video will be shown at the Hollywood Film Festival's first Human Rights Symposium. Please take a look at the semi-finalist entries below and vote for your favorite at

Endeavour astronauts answer your questions from space

Because the space shuttle Endeavour launched into space last week, NASA Astronaut Mark Polansky and the STS-127 crew aboard invited people to ask them questions about space exploration. Videos came in from all around the world, and many of the questions came from kids, curious to learn more about what it's actually like in space. Now that they're finally in orbit, the STS-127 crew is answering these questions via video and posting them on the NASA YouTube channel.

In this video, Polansky answers 13-year-old Rio Morales's question: "What's the best thing about being in space?"

Cameron, recording a video from England, asks: "What would happen if you were to fly into a black hole?"

Dawn from Indianapolis, Indiana asks: "If youre in a spacesuit, especially on an EVA, and you have to sneeze, how do you deal with that, especially if it splatters? Also, if your nose itches while youre in a spacesuit, how do you deal with that?"

Mission Specialist Dave Wolf responds:

The New

NPR posted a great video yesterday introducing the newly redesigned version of their website,, and pointing out all of the new features. They used a neat trick to create the video: NPR host Scott Simon is being filmed on a webcam as he sees the new site for the first time, and you can see his real-time reactions side-by-side with the website as he clicks around. Worth a watch:

For more videos form NPR, check out their YouTube channel:

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Live Tonight at 8 PM EDT on the President's News Conference

Tune into tonight to watch the President's live news conference at 8 P.M. EDT. Learn more here. launches on YouTube - call for global rally on July 25th

In the face of the continued unrest in Iran over the June 12th presidential elections, a group of human rights organizations have come together to launch - a nonprofit that is pushing for a global day of solidarity with Iranians on July 25th. They're organizing rallies in dozens of cities across the world, and have partnered with YouTube experts AgitPop to get the word out with the video below.

AgitPop tells Citizentube that this video features music from DJ Spooky, who they also collaborated with on "Stop the Clash of Civilizations", the video that won the "Best Political Video" contest on YouTube in 2007. Take a look:

Digital activism on YouTube

Cross-posted on the Official Google Blog

Activism today isn't limited to picket lines and marches on the Mall — people have taken their movements to the web, and YouTube has become an important platform for exposure. Every day, people use YouTube to fight for causes, whether they're hunger-striking celebrities like Mia Farrow, or 9-year-olds trying to save the neighborhood kickball lot from destruction. On Citizentube, our YouTube blog that chronicles the way people use video to change the world, we've seen digital activists use YouTube in three basic ways: to shine a light on issues that need more exposure, to drive action around causes they care about, and to create connections between people and organizations that share their desire to make a difference.

Some of the most compelling videos we see are those that spotlight important issues that aren't being covered in the mainstream media. Witness, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to document human rights abuses around the world through video, offers an excellent example — this video from their YouTube channel chronicles the clashes between the Burmese military and rural ethnic minorities., a relative newcomer to YouTube, is taking a similar approach by tackling a more domestic issue: homelessness. This summer, the group is traveling across America to document the real, unedited stories of people living on the streets, in tent communes and in cars — and posting all of the footage to their YouTube channel. And of course we've seen protesters in Iran, China and elsewhere use YouTube to amplify their causes far beyond national borders.

Other individuals and nonprofits are using YouTube as a direct advocacy tool, experimenting with ways to drive action from their videos to a particular cause. And we're building new products to make it even easier for them to do this effectively. For example, in March, we launched a tool called "Call to Action," which allows nonprofit organizations to drive traffic from an in-video overlay to an off-site page where they can collect donations, signatures or email addresses. Shortly after launch, to commemorate World Water Day, we featured a video from charity:water on the YouTube homepage that used a call-to-action overlay to encourage YouTube users to donate money to build wells and provide clean, safe drinking water for those who don't have it. Through YouTube, charity:water was able to raise over $10,000 in one day — enough to build two brand-new wells in the Central African Republic and give over 150 people clean drinking water for 20 years.

Yet some of the most innovative uses of YouTube for digital activism are those that leverage the communities that exist on YouTube around particular causes. YouTube is inherently a social experience and many of our users are hungry to partner and collaborate with others who share their passions. Last December, popular YouTube users the Vlogbrothers launched the "Project for Awesome," a campaign which asked fellow budding change-makers to make videos about their favorite charities. Over 1,200 people joined the effort to promote their cause of choice. And just a few weeks ago, in partnership with President Obama's launch of, we created "Video Volunteers", a new platform on YouTube which connects nonprofits that lack video resources with proven video-makers who want to use their skills to do good. There are already hundreds of posts from nonprofits seeking help on the Video Volunteers YouTube channel, so if you're interested in creating a video for an organization, head over to the channel now and find a cause you care about.

Activism is constantly evolving on YouTube, so we'll keep posting fresh accounts of how citizens and nonprofits are changing the world, one video at a time, on Citizentube.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

New Video of Snipers Shooting in Iran - July 20

A new video from Iran posted yesterday. This blurry footage, shot from above, shows people in the streets supposedly on Monday July 20. About 40 seconds in, you can see a uniformed man fire a gun followed by another plainclothes man who takes a shot. The woman holding the camera is audibly upset as more gunshots can be heard, the camera gets shaky, and someone appears to be laying injured in the middle of the street.

Reuters opens its Handbook wide

A few weeks ago, Reuters announced that its Handbook of Journalism would be published online for the first time. (It's now available for free at And they've just posted this video to the Reuters' YouTube channel, featuring Dean Wright, Reuters Global Editor for Ethics, Innovation and News Standards, who introduces the handbook and explains how it can be used by professional journalists and citizen reporters, alike.

"As we've seen over the past decade," Wright notes, "the barriers to publishing have dropped so that anyone with an idea and a computer can be a publisher. But it's also become clear that publishers have varying standards of truth, fairness, and style - our handbook is a good place for you to begin to develop yours."

We encourage you to watch the video below and then dive into the Reuters' Handbook to learn just about everything you'd ever want to know about journalism from A to Z.

London Mayor "Ambushed" by YouTuber for impromptu interview

Great piece in the Guardian about a YouTuber who captured London Mayor Boris Johnson on his bike during a protest over funding for a rape crisis center, and got him to do an impromptu video interview, which she posted to YouTube.


We can't think of many corporate videos worth watching - but we think you might like this one. Not just because it promotes some of the ways YouTube and our mother company Google help enable free expression around the world (which it does), but because, well, free expression is fundamentally important to human rights - and technology has helped take it to new levels in the 21st Century. YouTube and Google have been fortunate to play a part in that, and this video - shown at the Radio and Television News Directors Foundation, where Google received the First Amendment Leadership Award - shows viewers how. It's worth a watch, we promise.

Monday, July 20, 2009

The 40th Anniversary of the First Moon Landing

Notice something different about the YouTube logo on the homepage today? It's been made over to honor the 40th anniversary of Neil Armstrong's small step into the history books, with Apollo 11's landing on the moon. Four decades ago today, millions of people crowded around flickering black and white television sets -- or listened in via radio -- nervously waiting to see and hear the crew of Apollo 11 make good on President Kennedy's pledge to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade, which he made on May 25, 1961. To coincide with this event, key moments from those live TV images have been partially restored by NASA and can now be seen online by billions of people around the world. And if those iconic glimpses of Apollo 11's lunar landing give you goosebumps, you'll find this classic long-form NASA documentary from the U.S. National Archives to be a real treat; experience the story of this historic mission through the eyes of the people who made it happen:

Space fans have more opportunities than ever to keep tabs on footage from the archives and present-day missions via YouTube channels like NASAtelevision, Houston's ReelNASA, and NASAexplorer out of Goddard, Maryland. If you want to get even closer to the lunar surface, take a trip with Moon in Google Earth and explore Apollo 11's landing site on the Sea of Tranquility with the same ease with which you might have used Google Earth to take a tour of your own neighborhood. (For more about Moon in Google Earth, click here for the launch announcement in the Google LatLong blog or here for the official Google blog's post.) While today's space fans impatiently await the next era of space exploration, at least we're spoiled for choice when it comes to revisiting the giant leaps that took place 40 years ago.

Posted by Mark Day, YouTube Science & Technology

If man walked on the moon today...

In honor of the 40th anniversary of Neil Armstrong's first step on the moon, the folks over at Slate V - Slate Magazine's web video arm - imagined how the moon landing would be covered by the media if it were to happen today.

Open Reichstag: YouTube at the German elections

Over the past few years, we've seen politicians and campaigns from around the globe use YouTube to broadcast their platforms, debate their opponents, and engage with their supporters. Following this trend, YouTube has recently become home to the German elections, as German citizens prepare to vote for a new government in September.

In a partnership with ZDF, the second-largest public TV broadcaster in Germany (13.1% market share), we created a special channel and concept for the occasion: Open Reichstag. As the name implies, the goal of this channel is to open the doors of the Reichstag, the parliament building in Berlin, to dialog and discussion, encouraging direct interaction between the YouTube community and members of the different political parties in Germany. For a start, we've decided to turn things around and have well-known politicians of the six key parties pose a "Sunday question" to the YouTube community. Here are a couple of interesting and creative responses:

One objective of this partnership is to bridge the gap between YouTube and television in order to reach a wider audience - during a four-month period, ZDF will incorporate selected video responses in different TV shows. The big finale will be on September 15th, when the YouTube ZDF election debate will air and six key politicians will be confronted with YouTube questions.

Open Reichstag has been live since the 6th of June and will accompany the elections all the way to Election Day on the 27th of September.

Based on the ideas of our group in Hamburg, our engineering team of two engineers and a UX designer built the channel in their 20% time (while based in Zurich, all three are German, go figure). It was built from scratch in just a few weeks, combining the power of YouTube and the YouTube API with technologies like Google Web Toolkit, App Engine and iGoogle Gadgets.

We hope you like it.

And if you're interested in learning more about the German political landscape, check out the YouTube channels of various German political parties. For example, see CDU TV, SPD Vision, FDP, Die Grünen or Die Linke.

Posted by Anne-Sophie Rachel and Martin Landers, YouTube German Elections Team

Friday, July 17, 2009

Choose Your Own Issue-Based Adventure on YouTube

Recently, we've seen a spike in the number of nonprofit organizations using YouTube's social features, like annotations, to drive interest and interaction with their causes. A few months ago, the Ad Council launched an extremely creative campaign called "Two-Sided Stories," which leveraged YouTube annotations to guide citizens through choose-your-own-adventure scenarios about the importance of online privacy. See an example here:

And just this week, noting the knife crime problems in the United Kingdom, released this interesting annotations-based "adventure" about the ramifications of carrying or using a knife:

Judging by the number of views these videos have received, these organizations are on the right track. A more interactive approach might be the best way to go when trying to raise the volume on important issues, especially when you're targeting a teenage demographic. Want to use annotations in your next video? Learn how here.

New YouTube feature: "As Seen On"

Check it out on our page, and watch the video below to learn more.

Keeping the Revolution Alive: 1979 revolution song remixed, denouncing China, and cries for freedom

A few more videos of note from today:

Protesters signing a song that was used during the 1979 revolution and has been modified to declare their defiance against Ahmadinejad:

People chanting "Down with China" in protest of the Chinese government's congratulatory remarks about Ahmadinejad's re-election:

Protesters chanting in support of Mousavi and calling for the release of political prisoners apprehended by riot police during recent riots:

Protesters outside of the Iranian State Department building:

Footage of Rafsanjani's speech - calling for the release of prisoners

This video was taken during Rafsanjani's speech today. According to an Iranian colleague, in this clip, "Rafsanjani is talking about releasing the prisoners who were arrested during the recent protests. Some people then approve of his words by shouting "God is great!" and "political prisoner must be released!" slogans. Some others ask them to be quiet so they can hear the rest of Rafsanjani's speech."

Citizen curators - places to find Iran videos

We've noticed a number of users who are using their YouTube channels as a repository for videos from Iran. It's not clear if any of these users are actually in Iran, or exactly how they are getting these clips -- but since the Iran election and the protests that followed, they have been aggregating as much protest footage as possible on their channels, hoping to spread the word and raise awareness around the world about what's happening on the ground.

Here are a few of these citizen curator's YouTube channels:
Each of these channels has been uploading dozens of -- and in some cases, more than one hundred -- videos from today's protests.

More protests in Iran, new videos on YouTube

A new round of protests erupted in Iran earlier today after a Friday prayer sermon by cleric Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rajsanjani, who supports the opposition and denounced Ahmadinejad's supporters. Footage has been streaming in as violence breaks out yet again.

This video shows the size of the crowd gathered:

This video documents protesters getting tear-gassed by riot police:

Here's a playlist of some of the videos uploaded today:

Covering the President on the road: The White House travel videos

When you think of the White House YouTube channel, the first thing that comes to mind is probably the President's weekly address. But recently, the video team has developed a new style of video clips that capture the essence of the President's trips abroad. Using local music as a soundtrack, a speech clip from the President, and b-roll from the President's visits, they're creating some nice, short, punchy musical montages. They're almost reminiscent of the travel videos you'd expect to see on the Travel Channel on YouTube.

See below two such videos from the President's trip abroad, to Russia and Ghana.

What's it like to see for the first time?

Cross-posted on the YouTube Blog

Picture this: you've spent your whole life being legally blind. At the age of 24 you get a pair of glasses that brings the world into focus for the very first time -- first you can see the eye chart in the doctor's office; then you turn to your grandmother's smiling face, which you'd never really seen before. Tears are shed, and from then on you just can't drink in your surroundings fast enough.

This happened to Michael Davis, aka volunteerforvision, who's using YouTube to show people what the transformation was like from the inside. His video allows you to see, quite literally, what the world looked like to him before the glasses and after, with things like street signs, stars, blades of grass and book covers sharpening before your eyes:

Recently, Davis ran in his first race, "Journey for Sight," where he placed first among visually impaired runners. Buoyed by this success, he enlisted in a second run, for which he raised $1,000 for the children's hospital where he had 23 surgeries before the age of 13. Naturally, he made a video about the experience.

By using social sites like YouTube to try to find a community of people with similar experiences and to inspire others with his story, Davis is building toward his ultimate goal: to earn a masters degree in accounting and to start a nonprofit organization devoted to informing the visually impaired about the services available to them and how technology can enrich a life.

YouTube Culture and the Politics of Authenticity

One of the most talked-about sessions at the Personal Democracy Forum conference we attended a few weeks back in New York was Professor Michael Wesch's speech, "The Machine is (Changing) Us: YouTube Culture and the Politics of Authenticity." Michael teaches cultural anthropology at Kansas State University, and has most recently focused on the impact of social media and digital culture on society.

Working alongside his students as digital explorers, Michael set out to learn about the YouTube phenomenon through experimentation. Just like a team of anthropologists living with tribes in the rain forest to learn about their culture, Michael and his students went "native" into the YouTube ecosystem, uploading videos, sharing them, talking with other YouTubers, and recording their thoughts along the way.

In essence, Michael and his students are exploring how our media shapes us. If the revolution of TV created a society where mindless suburbanites fixated on one-way conversations being blasted at them through their television sets, then the Internet has brought new opportunities for 2-way communication and community building through our computer screens. Yet the web also creates infinite opportunities to amplify the inane, and allows a new kind of anonymity that can lead to malaise and lack of responsibility. YouTube - which allows for both personalization and anonymity - represents this phenomenon in unique ways, and what Michael and his students discover in their research is thought-provoking. So much so that National Geographic recently named Michael an "Emerging Explorer." Not bad for a guy whose research involves watching a lot of YouTube videos.

This 30-minute speech he gave at the Personal Democracy Forum is well worth watching for anyone who's interested in YouTube and modern culture.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Hello, Michigan: This is your chance to weigh in on the healthcare debate

Following in the footsteps of Senator Dick Durbin, Congressman Sandy Levin is taking questions on the healthcare debate from the constituents of the 12th district of Michigan using Google Moderator and YouTube.

Here's the introduction video to his online town hall:

Check out his website, where you can participate by submitting and voting on questions.

Congressman Levin will be answering some of the top questions, so if you live in his district, then hop over there and join the conversation. And as always, if you're interested in using Google Moderator yourself, check it out at

Posted by Matt Klainer, Google Moderator Team

All-star cast stars in All-Star game promotion for

It's not every day you see five U.S. presidents in one YouTube video. Debuted at the All-Star game last night, this piece profiles Americans who are volunteering in their communities, in and effort to drive people to and find volunteer opportunities to engage in. Narrated by Presidents Obama, Geroge W. Bush, Clinton, George H.W. Bush, and Carter, it's posted to the Corporation for National and Community Service's YouTube channel.

In partnership with and that platform that powers it, All for Good, we launched Video Volunteers a few weeks ago - to connect YouTubers with volunteer opportunities at nonprofits who need help created videos for their causes. Learn how you can get involved by going to

Azeri bloggers under fire for making "ass" of government

Today's New York Times reports that a YouTube video, posted by Azeri bloggers, is creating quite the political stir in Azerbaijan. In the video (below), blogger Adnan Hajizada, dressed in a donkey suit, waxes poetic about the life that donkeys lead in Azerbaijan, a jab at the government who has reportedly paid astronomical fees for the import of donkeys:

Hajizada, 26, and his colleague Emin Milli, 30, were arrested last week. Though authorities claim otherwise, many suspect that the arrest is in relation to this video and could symbolize a larger move to suppress online media.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009 Giving voice to America's homeless through video

Fourteen years ago, Mark Horvath found himself homeless and living on Hollywood Boulevard. Today, Horvath is off the streets but hasn't forgotten what it felt like to be homeless. That's why he recently launched -- a video project that empowers those without a home to share their stories on camera.

This summer, Horvath is turning up the volume with Road Trip U.S.A. -- he's traveling across America to document the real, unedited stories of people living on the streets, in tent communes, and in cars. Already, he has over 41 videos uploaded to the InvisiblePeople YouTube channel, including this one, which features James, a member of one of Seattle's tent cities:

During the road trip, hopes to stop in about 20 cities (tentative itinerary here). If you have a suggestion of a shelter or tent city they should visit along the way, you can email Horvath at roadtrip(at)invisiblepeople(dot)tv.

This ain't your grandfather's Supreme Court confirmation hearing

There are plenty of places to follow the most-discussed news story of the week on YouTube. Every major YouTube news partner is uploading videos on the Sotomayor confirmation hearing, but one news organization is taking a unique new direction. The Associated Press is uploading clips of the hearing every day, but they're also live-blogging the hearing with a new Twitter account set up just the hearing - ap_courtside (one wonders if they'll use this for future high-profile court cases as well). And, they're keeping a more extensive live-blog going on their Yahoo News blog, here.

But perhaps most interestingly, the AP is asking for citizen feedback on the hearing on the site Mixed Ink. There, you can login to the AP's thread to make your own case for or against Sotomayor's nomination to the Supreme Court, and you can use the collaborative editing tools to work with others on your "case".

The AP is YouTube's most prolific news partner, uploading hundreds of videos per week. Let's see if they can direct their hundreds of thousands of YouTube viewers to these new methods of coverage.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Following the Sotomayor Hearings on YouTube

If you're looking to follow the Supreme Court confirmation hearings for Judge Sonia Sotomayor, look no further than the Senate Democrats' YouTube channel. They've posted continuous coverage from today's hearings -- for example, you can watch Sotomayor's opening statement here:

Today's proceedings are over, but you can still catch up on YouTube, and tune in tomorrow for more.

Don't get mad, get even - on YouTube

When customer service won't answer the call - go public with your complaint:

Friday, July 10, 2009

Footage of young Iranian protester injured during riots

This video was just uploaded an hour ago, though it was shot during yesterday's protests:

Protesters making barricades in the streets

Vivid footage of protesters making flaming barricades in the streets during yesterday's demonstrations: 

Member of the Basij goes after the camera man

More footage from yesterday's protests in Tehran is surfacing on YouTube today. You can see the Basij policing the crowded streets as cars and people pass by - but then, at the very end of the video, one riot police spots the camera man shooting the video from across the street and charges right at him. The picture goes out of focus and you can hear the sounds of a scuffle between the policeman and the camera man, while others shout in the background. 

Kyle across America: citizen reporter tracks the recession on $25/day

The Uptake, one of YouTube's finest citizen reporting organizations who helped us launch the YouTube Reporters' Center last week with this great video, has started a new project with a University of Minnesota grad student named Kyle Potter. The concept is simple: Kyle hits the road to track how people are coping with the economic recession, using just his iPhone and $25/day for food, lodging, and transportation. Learn more in this promo video from the Uptake (hats off to Chuck Olsen for the excellent voice-over):

An here's a look at Kyle's first episode, from Chicago:

New RNC YouTube ad hits Obama on the stimulus

The latest YouTube video coming out of the RNC, entitled "Nothing", hits President Obama on the stimulus package. Using clips of Vice President Biden claiming that, "all of us got it wrong", juxtaposed against a repetitive loop of the President claiming, "there's nothing we would have done differently", the ad is a classic of the "gotcha genre" on YouTube and has already racked up thousands of views in a few short hours.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Wounded protestors surface on YouTube

From the looks of this video, the protests today did turn violent today at points.  Here you see a man who has suffered a wound on the back of his head.  His friends wash away the blood with a bottle of water and appear to continue on with the protest.  According to the video's description, the man was told not to go to the hospital because members of the Basij have allegedly been identifying people participating in the protests. 

Tehran at Night

Here's a video showing what the atmosphere is like in Tehran tonight after a day of protests. 

Capturing the Action from Inside a Bus

This is an interesting video, just posted about an hour ago, shot by someone sitting inside of a bus in Tehran, likely earlier today.  He is filming through the window, documenting people running down the street - though it's unclear why they're running or what they're running from.  

More Tear Gas Thrown at Iranian Protesters

This video shows protesters walking through the streets when someone -- allegedly a riot policeman -- throws a canister of tear gas through the air.  It looks like the protesters are prepared as many of them are already donning face masks to protect them from the chemicals and seem somewhat undeterred afterwards.

Iranian Woman Taken Down by Tear Gas

This video (and several copies of it) was posted to YouTube a few hours ago.  It shows an elderly woman who appears to have been tear-gassed by the police during today's demonstrations in Tehran. 


Streets Crowded with Protesters

More videos from Tehran showing large groups of protesters gathering in the streets today: 

Catching the bad guys on YouTube

Here's an interesting strategy: the Hennepin County Sheriff's office from Hennepin County, Minnesota, is now posting episodes of "Hennepin County's Most Wanted" onto YouTube. They currently broadcast this show on cable access stations in the Twin Cities area, but how big can that audience really be? And what if the criminals they're chasing have left the county? By broadcasting the show on YouTube, they're reaching a much broader audience.

The view counts aren't big yet -- but it'll be interesting to see where this goes as they continue to develop an audience on YouTube.

A New Round of Protests in Iran

New reports today of violent clashes between protesters and the police in Tehran, despite warnings from the government about severe punishments for those who continue to voice dissent about the election results. 

Videos, reportedly from today, have started to surface on YouTube: 

Another government PSA? Zzzzz....No, wait! This is YouTube.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) wants you to take an active role in sharing information about the prevention of H1N1 flu, or swine flu. That's why, today, they've launched a YouTube contest asking citizens to create PSA's that increase public awareness about the flu and ultimately reduce the number of H1N1 cases.

The person who creates the most compelling PSA will receive $2500 and will have their PSA run on national television. A panel of judges from the government, public and private sector will pick the video finalists, but public voting will decide the ultimate winner. Here's HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius with more information about the contest:

Whether your video is a funny sketch about how to wash your hands, or a serious piece about the importance of staying home if you contract the flu, you're encouraged to submit it now as a video response to this video. Just make sure you mention in your video as an information resource. The contest ends on August 20, 2009.

What's news on YouTube? It's all Michael Jackson, all the time.

A look at the "most-viewed" section of YouTube's News and Politics page... the last time the page was this dominated by one story was during the 2008 political conventions, when everyone was logging in to watch speeches they'd missed.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Taking Political Questions from Down Under

Following in the footsteps of British PM Gordon Brown and President Obama, starting today, the Premier of Victoria is opening up his YouTube Channel for questions. This introduction from Premier Brumby provides more information:

Are you an Australian citizen? You can exercise your democratic right - submit your questions for Premier Brumby on any issue relating to Victoria and vote on the questions submitted by others, like these:

YouTube Videos Shed Light on the Unrest in Honduras

On June 28, Honduran president Manual Zelaya was overthrown in a military coup and exiled to Costa Rica. Since then, impartial media coverage has been severely limited, making it difficult to understand what's really happening inside the country.  However, a few videos have been uploaded to YouTube by Hondurans documenting some of the demonstrations being held to protest Zelaya's expulsion as well as the new leaders' attempts to suppress the demonstrations.

This following video, En honduro no pasa nada, todo tranquilo (GOLPE DE ESTADO) --which in English is called "Nothing's Happening in Honduras", shows encounters between protesters and armed forces in the streets of Honduras - some of which appear to have turned violent.