9. YouTube + Cheap Digital Cameras and Camcorders
One word: macaca.
When the candid video of former Senator George Allen calling someone a macaca (a monkey) appeared on YouTube, it not only cost him a Senate seat and altered the balance of power in the United States Congress, but it also demonstrated how far viral video had come. The Web is now the first stop for many political candidates and companies trying to spread the word about themselves or their products, and YouTube accounts for more than 60 percent of all video-site traffic, according to Hitwise.com.
YouTube wouldn't have reached such heights without cheap digital cameras, camcorders, and cell-phone cameras. Several key developments led the way. For example, in 1995 Sony introduced the first digital video camcorders with a FireWire (IEEE 1394) port for high-speed transfers to PCs and Macs (cost: $3000). NEC built the first cell-phone cameras that could capture streaming video in 1999. In 2006 JVC introduced the first digital camcorders to record directly to hard drives.
Now, of course, palm-size camcorders can be had for less than $200, and streaming-video capture is a standard feature in most cameras and camera phones. In fact, the first Pocket Film Festival was held in Paris in October 2005--with the winning entries posted on YouTube, naturally.
Disruption: Digital video has made mini-Hitchcocks of everyone. YouTube and its many cousins give the masses a place to put their masterworks. Journalism, politics, and entertainment will never be the same.