06/20/2007 04:13 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

The YouTube Launch Pad

YouTube is about to be launched in nine more languages -- meaning the Polish equivalent of this guy now has the ability to be seen by more or
less anyone in the world (or at least any country that doesn't give
you one of these when you login).

With so much attention on YouTube,
both good and bad, the fact that the site is revolutionary seems to
have been lost in the mix. The new languages announcement speaks
toward that.

The downside of YouTube in 9 languages
is that more teenagers can sit around for an entire day doing nothing
more than surfing for strange videos and trying to find a brief glimpse of a woman's
breast -- but not quite finding them. Any downside pales in comparison to
the upside, though: the expansion of the YouTube platform to allow more
information and ideas to be shared around the world. It's that

Greater accessibility to YouTube fundamentally
leads to more information being available to more people, and consequently
the possibility for more intelligent debate among groups who wouldn't
otherwise have it.

I don't care how much Google is making
(or losing) from it; YouTube continues to transform the
way we interact with each other and with our world, and they should
be lauded for their innovation and what they make possible. In
the political arena, in particular, YouTube may be the single most powerful
new tool to transform the conversation, both at home and abroad --
and what needs more reform and increased engagement than the United
States' political system? Or any other country's political
for that matter?

In politics, YouTube has already started
becoming something more than just a site to share random videos; it's
a platform -- rather a "launching pad" - for ideas to be shared
and issues to be debated. Even without owning a TV (I really don't),
I can know the opinions of a Barrack Obama without his campaign having to spend any of
its eye-popping funds on 30 second ads. If US campaigns can
spend less time and energy on their obsession with ads and more time on issues, that can only be
a good thing. Part of the shift back to Reason, if you will.

The ability to hide information and
conceal the truth is (measurably) the basis off which much of the last
six years of leadership has been based -- and a 29% approval rating is all there is to show for that. While
ever-increasing transparency may mean people will know which candidates...oh
I don't know...spend two minutes placing their hair in perfect order -- transparency through newly documented citizen
video will also mean that our candidates must be increasingly honest
and open. Their words and deeds -- behind closed doors or behind a microphone
- now go on their permanent record to be called up days, weeks or years

Critics have questioned whether or
not a corporation should own and control a platform such as the one
YouTube created and has made even bigger through Google. Contra
Costa Times, in particular, did a piece last week questioning whether or not Google
should be at the helm of this and future political debates because the
company has a vested interest in selling ads around the debates and
any video they might show. The question is moot. YouTube
is not a content generator just as a television set doesn't make a
show. The TV is a means to the end of receiving and distributing
information ... followed shortly thereafter by "being entertained."
Nobody said Sony or Magnavox shouldn't be allowed to have an impact
on the elections through its TV sets, and if NBC (General Electric)
can make a dollar after letting you see a debate, a newscast, or an
interview, why can't a website? Does iTunes want more or less
music available in .mp3 format? Is it bad that they try to get
more? What an artist puts on the canvas after purchasing it from
the store is not up to the canvas maker.

More than 18 months before the presidential
election and 6 months before the first primary, 17 candidates have posted
over 900 videos outlining who they are and what they stand for.
And that's not to mention the hundreds of other non-sanctioned, parkridge47-esque
videos that are up.

Put simply: YouTube is a tool for communication.
Candidates are using it, and people are watching it. It's a
platform ... the new podium. The politically leveraged YouTube
promotes access, empowerment and education - in English and now in
9 other languages. Whether that potential is harnessed positively
and our population becomes increasingly aware and engaged, or whether
we get crap is ultimately up to you and me -- not the folks at YouTube.

Well done on your efforts to get people
thinking and talking, YouTube ... Google ... whatever. Glad you're
getting out there, allowing more people to be aware, and doing it in
multiple languages. Looking forward to seeing the Brazilian equivalent
of Obama Girl.