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The YouTube of the 1970s

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The Atlantic's Alexis Madrigal explores the early impulses behind the video sharing culture of today.

youtube media van
youtube media van

It's easy to forget just how difficult sharing and finding video used to be now that we live in an age where we're busy trying to cope with a flood of video content. Distribution took days, if not weeks, and was often dependent on whether the original broadcast footage had been recorded. The sharing impulse driving YouTube has roots in the early video camera days of the '70s, The Atlantic's Alexis Madrigal explains, and counterculturist video collectives like Ant Farm, Optic Nerve, and Media Access Center were some of the earliest to experiment with cheap, emerging tech to create a distribution network independent of the traditional broadcast and cable systems.