As of tonight, it has been ten years since we published RSS in Plain English on YouTube. I can't believe it's been so long. We owe a debt of gratittude to those of you who were with us in the beginning. It makes our day to know that you've stuck with us. We'd love to hear from you!
To mark the occasion, I wrote about how we came up with the idea for making RSS in Plain English and what happened the day we published it. Here's an excerpt:
YouTube was a year old at the time and growing incredibly fast. Soon, our discussions turned to ways we could ride the YouTube wave to new destinations. But how? We had no background in video production. What kinds of videos could be useful? What could two people and a cheap video camera do?
In 2006 YouTube was not alone in experiencing incredible growth. This was the dawn of the social media revolution and ideas like wikis, blogs and social networking were just starting to become known and adoption was slow. Being a big fan and user of these new tools, I wanted more people to use them. I believed they could be adopted quickly by the mass market.
But I also saw problems. These powerful, free and useful tools all suffered from the same malady: confusion. They were so new and different that most people couldn’t make sense of them intuitively. It was like a huge mountain of value was being obscured by a dense shroud of foggy, technical communication. Clearing that fog was the problem we decided to solve. We set out to make these new tools understandable for people like our parents using the power of YouTube videos. For the first time, we thought about what it means to explain an idea effectively using video.
Using a simple example of a cyberbully in action, this video follows a bully’s tools, motivations and tactics. It also covers what can be done by adults and fellow students to stop the bully and prevent further problems. It teaches:
Why cyberbullying represents a problem
How cyberbullies use the internet to threaten and harass others
What motivates cyberbullies
What adults and students can do to help the bullied students
What adults and students can do to prevent problems
Piracy, in any form, seems like a simple idea. It’s illegal and a form of stealing. But online, it may feel different because it’s so easy to make copies of a song or movie and share them. It’s easy to find pirated software on the cheap. The risks seem low.
Our challenge with this video: How can we explain piracy in a way that goes deeper than simple right vs. wrong arguments? How can we appeal to reason?
Our solution: Focus on understanding why it makes sense that piracy is illegal. Below, we explain the system that makes it possible for creative people to be paid for their work and how piracy breaks that system and directly impacts the creative people who make the music and art we love.
We also worked to make the visuals, especially in the beginning, fun and interesting. I loved animating those pirates!
Piracy, on the open ocean or online, is illegal because it is a kind of theft. By understanding different types of online piracy and why it’s illegal, we can start to see how piracy impacts the artists we love and represents a risk to us as individuals. It teaches:
What piracy is online
Why artists often depend on copyright laws for income
How piracy breaks copyright laws and impacts artists
Every once in a while, we come upon a subject that is both extremely complicated and potentially transformational. We treat these subjects with care and work hard to capture the big, fundamental ideas that create a foundation for learning more in the future.
Today, that subject is Blockchain, which is the backbone of the digital currency Bitcoin and a concept that could be used more widely in the future.
The video below uses an analogy to show why blockchain may represent a better way for a small village to manage ownership of village property.
This video provides a big picture look at why blockchain matters. Using the story of a village, it explains how villagers, who had a centralized authority for ownership, discover a new, decentralized way to manage ownership of village property. It teaches:
How central authorities (banks, government) currently account for changes in ownership
Why a fundamentally new accounting system is now possible using the internet
How blockchain works to create a decentralized system that users manage
Why this new system is considered safe, secure and transparent
Have you ever heard the term "Death by PowerPoint"? It's a reference to presentations that are disorganized and go on forever. It's a plague and we want to help.
Our latest video was suggested by members and is designed to teach students an essential 21st century skill: how to plan a presentation so that it's organized and easy to follow.
What it Teaches:
All great presentations have one thing in common: they are well organized. This video illustrates how to plan your next presentation so that your audience easily understands what you have to say. It teaches:
Why effective presentations matter
How to organize and group ideas using sticky notes
How to use an outline to develop specific points
How to move your points into PowerPoint or Keynote slides
The new video explains algorithms - what they are and why they matter.
What it Teaches:
This video is an introduction to the basic ideas of algorithms. It explains how computers, websites and digital products need instructions that answer the question “what should I do next?” in order to complete tasks, serve customers and gather information. It teaches:
Why algorithms are similar to offline customer service