It’s hard for me to imagine a site that has changed the Internet in such a short time as YouTube. With YouTube around, the idea of installing third party applications in order to watch videos seems absurd, and the idea of actually sending a video file as an email attachment is completely obsolete. In the past, I would usually ignore links that pointed to video files because I didn’t want to have to deal with player issues, pop up ads, or other annoyances. Since I first saw the “Lazy Sunday” video on YouTube, I have seen dozens of hilarious and informative videos that I never would have bothered with before. And YouTube actually provides a humane URL for each video that can easily be pasted into an email or IM conversation.
One thing that amazes me is AOL’s Video site, which launched after YouTube and seems like a site of yesteryear. The site actually asks you to indicate whether you’re on a broadband connection or not, and then serves up raw video files rather than Flash files with embedded video. And it uses pop up windows to display video. I only point these things out in order to illustrate that YouTube’s approach seems completely obvious, but plenty of other sites still don’t get it.