Saturday, January 31, 2009

Davos: What a Difference a Year Makes

It's been a year since YouTube and the World Economic Forum launched our partnership at the Forum's yearly gathering in Davos. Last year we were asking the 'Davos Question' - "What's one thing that countries, companies, and individuals can do to make the world a better place?" We got answers as varied as the participants in the conference... from Bono to Hamid Karzai to Emma Thompson to Henry Kissinger, world leaders told us about ways to improve the environment, the economy, global cooperation, gender equality, geopolitics, and more.

This year, the Forum has a decidedly different feel. The global financial crisis has crystallized the mood here - almost every perspective we've collected is coming through the lens of how the economy in 2009 will present new challenges to all of the major issues we face. That said, this year's theme - the Davos Debates - has brought some very interesting responses to the four main questions we're asking on politics, ethics, the economy, and the environment. Check out the Davos Debates YouTube channel to see playlists of the themes that have emerged, or search for videos from your country or your leaders.

2008 brought a lot of change to the global outlook... one microcosm of that change can be seen in Arthur Mutambara, a young Zimbabwean political leader who we met last year at Davos, just after the Zimbabwean elections has been called. Mutambara uploaded this video, in which he called for free and fair elections so that reigning President Robert Mugabe (also named one of the world's top tyrants on several lists) would have to face the voice of the Zimbabwean people, who'd seen their economy hit record levels of inflation.

Unfortunately for Mutambara and his countrymen, the elections that took place were not seen as free nor fair by hardly anyone, and after opposition leaders (Mutambara included) were jailed by Mugabe, international pressure mounted for a power-sharing agreement that would appoint Morgan Tsvangirai as Prime Minister next to President Mugabe.

As timing would have it, earlier today that agreement has come to fruition. And Mutambara, a passionate advocate for his country and a compelling speaker, came back to YouTube to upload his reaction. Though many claim the power-sharing agreement won't work and that Mugabe will still rule with the same iron fist, Mutambara's attitude of responsibility and optimism is notable.

We need more leaders with this kind of spirit in 2009, as we face down problems that challenge our trust not only in our global economy, but in each other.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Help us test a new tool on YouTube!

We're trying out a new tool on YouTube this week called Google Moderator. It allows people to submit text questions or ideas, and vote on the submissions of others - allowing the best submissions to rise to the top. There are lots of applications for the platform, and we want to see how it works on Citizentube.

Help us out!

Go to and submit your answer the question, "What is the #1 way that Congress should use YouTube to make your government better?" Then vote on other peoples submissions, too.

We'll keep the discussion open for a week or so, and then submit the top ideas - as voted on by the YouTube community - to House and Senate leaders. And if you have any feedback on the system, be sure to leave us a note.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Behind the Scenes: House GOP on Stimulus

House GOP Leader John Boehner is out the door with a great 1-day video narrative of how his caucus came together to oppose the House Democrats spending bill. Complete with footage from closed-door meetings and a press conference, and Boehner's voice providing the soundtrack, this is a nice inside peek at a day in the life on Capitol Hill.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Barack Paper Scissors – Familiar Game with a YouTube Twist

Since we introduced our annotations feature on YouTube, we’ve seen some very clever uses of it – from humorous skits to interactive video games. But Ben&Eric’s “Barack Paper Scissors” may be one of the most ambitious and innovative uses of this feature yet. An interactive game with over 1,000 annotations, it’s an impressively tech-savvy tribute to our 44th President, and gives a familiar childhood game a distinctly YouTube twist.  

The game currently has four levels, with Level 5 launching this coming Thursday. But be warned: once you start playing, you might find impossible to stop.


The Ultimate Golden Ticket

When world leaders flock to Davos, Switzerland this week to participate in the World Economic Forum's annual meeting, the mood will undoubtedly be more subdued than in previous years. The global financial crisis has left the traditional powerhouses of the event - banks and big business - in a weakened state. As the Wall Street Journal reported this morning, it's now governments who will take a leading role at the Forum, as heads of state from 40 countries examine if and how bailouts and buy-offs can revive their flagging economies, and what other solutions exist.

Joining these governments and leaders in Davos this year will be Pablo Camacho of Bogota, Columbia, the winner of YouTube's Davos Debates program in partnership with the World Economic Forum. Along with 250 other YouTube users, Camacho submitted his video answering one of the four key questions posed on the Davos Debates YouTube channel. Camacho decided to answer the question, "Should CEO's have a code of ethics similar to those of doctors and lawyers?"

But Pablo's golden ticket to Davos won't be the only avenue for the voice of the people to reach the leaders assembled for WEF. At four different sessions throughout the Forum, clips of YouTube videos submitted by YouTubers will be shown to the leaders assembled there, giving them the chance to hear what people around the world are saying about the future of the global economy. In addition, a YouTube booth at WEF will play videos from YouTube users and ask world leaders for responses - stay tuned to the Davos Debates channel to see the content coming in.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Israeli Citizens Ask Questions of Prime Minister Candidates

YouTube's influence in politics hasn't been just an American phenomenon. Around the world, voters have been using YouTube to speak up on political issues. We've done televised election programming in Spain (, the UK (, not to mention Greece and Poland. And now, for the first time in the history of Israel, the public has had the opportunity to submit questions directly to the candidates for Prime Minister - which will be aired in live public forums on Channel 2 news, Israel's most popular news channel. So far, over 250 video questions have been submitted.

Here are a few examples:

Now, Israeli citizens get to help determine which quesitons get asked of the three candidates, Tsipi Livni, Benjamin Netanyahu and Ehud Barak. Go to to vote on the questions you think are best.

At the end of this week, the winning questions will be announced and would later on be broadcast live on channel 2 News and answered by the candidates. Furthermore, the winners will be invited to the studios to actually attend the candidates' interviews.

Naturally, the current events in Israel have brought the public to a new level of awareness and involvement over who will lead the country during this difficult time. We encourage you to go and vote for questions at

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The White House Comes to YouTube

Just after President Obama took the oath of office today, the White House launched a YouTube channel. They're out the door with a few videos from the transition, and will be posting the inauguration ceremony there momentarily.

Inauguration Day Throughout History

Today, Barack Obama will be inaugurated as the 44th President of the United States. Here at YouTube, we've seen the two-year-long presidential campaign unfold through video -- with hundreds of thousands of videos produced by the campaigns, created by voters, and re-mixed and mashed-up by the community in innumerable ways.

Obama inspired people all over the world to take ownership over his campaign with messages of hope and change, and as the first African-American to assume this office, he will make history today when he is sworn in on the steps of the Capitol at noon in Washington, D.C.

In honor of the historic nature of today's inauguration, we are dedicating the YouTube homepage to past presidential inaugural addresses. We partnered with C-SPAN to retrieve these speeches from its digital archives. From Franklin Delano Roosevelt's speech during the Great Depression in 1933 to George W. Bush's first inaugural address in 2001, just months before the September 11 attacks, today's homepage provides a comparative view of American presidents on the day each took office.

We hope that history geeks, political buffs, and everyday citizens alike will enjoy remembering these remarkable events. If you miss Obama's address at noon Eastern, you can find it here on YouTube soon afterward.

Happy Inauguration Day!

Olivia M.
YouTube News & Politics

Monday, January 19, 2009

Food Bank Takes Top Prize in Obama Service Day Contest

The results are in from the Renew America Together YouTube contest, which asked Americans to create videos about how they are planning to spend today, Martin Luther King Day, serving their communities. First prize went to this entry, titled "Yes, We're Cans," from the Second Harvest Food Bank in Tennessee:

The contest may be over, but don't worry -- you can still sign up to volunteer in your area today and post footage of your service experience to YouTube.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

New DNC chair answers questions on YouTube

Gov. Tim Kaine, the new chairman of the DNC, has answered your questions on YouTube. After President-elect Obama announced Kaine's appointment, the Governor accepted questions on the DNC's website - this YouTube video is the Governor's response.

The DNC should consider using Google Moderator next time, so that users can vote up the most important questions they think bear asking. That's what the Transition team did with Open for Questions.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

How to avoid trouble with your camera on Inauguration Day

If you're planning on heading to Washington DC for the Inauguration next week, we suspect (and encourage) you to bring a camera along to document this historic event. But it's critical that you know and understand the heightened security measures being taken on the National Mall so that a) you can film what you want, and b) you don't get your camera taken away from you.

The Citizen Media Law Project has put together a useful guide to covering the Inauguration, and we recommend a read-through. It provides basic information about the weekend's festivities and proceedings, as well as a list of where you can go, what you can bring, and what you're allowed to do. Not to mention what you should do if you run into trouble.

Read the guide here:

New York City on YouTube

Today, just three days after the House and Senate announced their official presence on YouTube, Mayor Bloomberg launched his YouTube channel for the New York City Mayor's office. Mayor Bloomberg's channel, which can be found at, features a personal welcome to the YouTube channel from Bloomberg himself, as well as a 7 minute profile of New York City that serves as the introduction to the forthcoming "State of the City" video address.

In Bloomberg's "welcome" video, he explains that before taking office, he built a business designed to "provide as much information to the consumer as quickly as possible," and that he feels "government should be no different." The only difference is that now, he says, the consumer is you, the tax-payer.

The Mayor promises to work hard to make government more open, transparent and accountable, and aims to use his YouTube channel to this end. Welcome Mayor Bloomberg to YouTube and check out his new channel!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Speaker Pelosi Rick Rolls YouTube

With her most recent upload to her YouTube channel, Speaker Nancy Pelosi has demonstrated a deep understanding of how to race to the top of YouTube. Namely, she created a video starring cats and eighties pop star Rick Astley:

This video shows that Pelosi is not only cleverly picking up on trends that resonate with the YouTube community to drive traffic to the serious content on her channel, but also using the site to show her constituents a more personal, less serious side of herself.

Get a Call from Mrs. Obama

Last week, President-elect Obama and General Colin Powell called on all Americans to devote next Monday, Martin Luther King Day, to community service and volunteerism through the Renew America Together campaign. Now, the campaign is teaming up with YouTube to sponsor a video competition encouraging citizens to document how they are making a difference in their communities on MLK Day:

All you have to do to enter the contest is post your video as a video response to the above video. The winner of the single best video will receive a personal phone call from First Lady Michelle Obama.

Still don't know where to go to volunteer on the 19th? Visit to find a community service opportunity near you.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Congress Comes to YouTube

Congress has come to YouTube!

See our post in the YouTube blog, cross-posted here:

Have you ever wondered what your elected representatives actually do in Washington, D.C.? Ever pondered what day-to-day life on Capitol Hill consists of? Do you want to connect with your Senator or Congressman, but don't feel like sitting down to write a letter?

Starting today you can do all these things via YouTube. As the 111th Congress kicks into gear, many of your elected leaders are starting their own YouTube channels. They're posting videos direct from their Washington offices, as well as clips of floor speeches and committee hearings alongside additional behind-the-scenes footage from Capitol Hill. And in conjunction with both the House and Senate, we're launching two new platforms that will help you access your Senator and Representatives' YouTube channels: The Senate Hub ( and The House Hub (

Learn more from the leadership of the House and Senate, here:

So, why are your elected leaders coming to YouTube? The short answer is: you. Your use of YouTube and other online platforms to speak up on political issues and hold your leaders accountable has shown just how powerful this medium can be. You've shown your elected officials that in order to be in contact with you, they need to come to the platforms you use most, and engage with you directly.

These YouTube channels have the potential to make Congress more transparent and accessible than ever before - but only if you continue to connect and engage with your government on the site. The House Hub and Senate Hub are the digital equivalents of a backstage pass to your government. Find your Senator and Representative on YouTube and make a connection... and if your elected representative doesn't have a YouTube channel yet, give them a call or an email and encourage them to get started.

-Steve Grove

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Obama team answers your questions on YouTube

Robert Gibbs, President-elect Barack Obama's Press Secretary, has posted a YouTube video answering the questions citizens submitted on "Open for Questions". This is the second series of "Open for Questions" that the transition team has done, and this time 103,512 people submitted 76,031 questions and cast 4,713,083 votes. The transition team, in their blog, called this, "just a hint of the willingness of the public to permanently change the way they interact with their government."

See below the video from Gibbs.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Come to the Project: Report Screening in DC!

We're headed to DC this Sunday for a screening of our finalists' videos in YouTube's first journalism contest, Project: Report. Come check is out - detail below and in the video.

Sunday, January 11, 2009
An evening of films from Project: Report Telling the Untold Stories:
YouTube's first-ever reporting contest for aspiring journalists.
7 p.m.- 9 p.m. (doors open at 6:30 p.m.)
Reception to follow

American University's Harold and Sylvia Greenberg Theatre
4200 Wisconsin Avenue NW
Washington, DC
(nearest Metro Red Line/Tenleytown)

Free and open to the public
RSVP appreciated:

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Federal Eye Asks Your Government, and Gets Answers

Ed O'Keefe, who writes the Federal Eye blog on, started a project several weeks ago called "Ask Your Government" in which he uses the new Google Moderator tool to gather questions from everyday citizens about how the government is run. Ed asked the YouTube community for their questions, and many of you responded.

In this first installment of "Ask Your Government," hundreds submitted questions about how exactly the new administration will institute new policies and enact real change. The community voted on which questions they wanted answered, and Ed took the top ranked question to the experts on Capitol Hill.

The top question this go-round came in from Katie JS of Los Altos, California. Katie asked: "Which agencies do you think we should eliminate?"

Ed answers the question in the following video, in which he interviews Rep. Darrel Issa (R-California) and Chris Edwards, the Director of Tax Policy at the Cato Institute.

Have a question for YOUR government? Visit the Federal Eye's Google Moderator page to submit a question for Ed to answer.

Benazir Bhutto's daughter raps on YouTube

See below a great find by Reuters (blogged at the NYT's, "The Lede") - a rap written by former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto's daughter Bakhtawar, expressing grief over her slain mother, on YouTube. The video only has 4,300 views... but definitely worth a look. It's in English.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Israelis and Palestinians using video to wage war for public opinion

The Israeli Defense Force has wasted no time in using YouTube to fight the war of public opinion over the fighting in Gaza - their YouTube channel has been one of the highest-ranked channels during the past 10 days of the conflict. Venture Beat has an interesting look at how the IFD has been using YouTube and other internet mediums to bypass the media and gain support for their mission. Palestinian groups have also been posting, though on YouTube their support seems to be more user-generated than official.

Of course this isn't the first time an Army has used YouTube to show citizens the boots on the ground perspective - the Multi-National force in Iraq has been active on YouTube for almost two years, and the U.S. Military has several YouTube channels.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

McAuliffe Announces Candidacy on YouTube

Terry McAulliffe - the chair of Hillary Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign and former chair of the Democratic National Committee - announced his candidacy for Virginia's Governor seat on YouTube today.

McAuliffe started his exploratory committee back on November 10th, and will face a strong primary field on the left, including State Senator Creigh Deeds and State delegate Brian Moran, for the chance to take on the presumptive Republican candidate for the office, state Attorney General Bob McDonnell.

See the video here, and embedded below.