cover image Like, Comment, Subscribe: Inside YouTube’s Chaotic Rise to World Domination

Like, Comment, Subscribe: Inside YouTube’s Chaotic Rise to World Domination

Mark Bergen. Viking, $30 (464p) ISBN 978-0-593-29634-9

Despite its cultural ubiquity, most people know nothing about what goes on at YouTube, writes Bloomberg technology reporter Bergen in his intriguing debut. He charts the company’s history, starting with its founding in 2005 by graphic designer Chad Hurley and his programmer friends Jawed Karim and Steve Chen, at a moment when entertainment was shifting from broadcast TV to reality show and eventually MySpace. In its scrappy startup days, YouTube struggled to rein in pornography, violence, and illegal content, and its content moderators were often left in horror at what they’d seen. But the fact that contributors could make astonishing incomes in ad revenue kept the mainstream videos flowing in, with product unboxing videos garnering millions of views and kid stars getting rich. Bergen also suggests YouTube’s 2006 acquisition by Google shielded it from some of the bad press Facebook and Twitter got for allowing misinformation to be shared on their platforms, and takes note of the legal issues, political challenges, and conspiracy theorists that the company still has to reckon with. And the idiosyncratic service has ended up as a microcosm of its own, he writes: “In a little over a decade, YouTube had evolved... into one of the most dominant, influential, and successful media businesses on the planet.” Those curious about how YouTube got to be the behemoth it is should pick this up. (Sept.)