4096, a YouTube channel that mostly makes animated histories of gadgets like Nintendo consoles and Nokia phones, has most recently published a history of all the changes YouTube has made to its homepage since 2005.
The video, at two minutes long, is a nice length for a documentary, in my opinion. It’s nice to start doing a task and be done with it just two minutes later.
However, this task is also going to make you a little bit sad. The original YouTube homepage surfaced weird, obviously homemade uploads. Even as it grew enough to warrant sections for spotlighting featured videos, the selections were delightfully bizarre. Until about 2007. That’s when you start to see viral acoustic song covers and boring, mammoth channels like “Will it Blend?” creeping into the first results. From there, it takes almost no time at all for the page to sift through a dozen or so barely different iterations on the YouTube we know now — an algorithmically curated selection of music videos, movie trailers, and channels with subscriptions well in the millions. And of course, there’s a huge banner ad.
Anyway, “The Evolution of YouTube” is nice if you want to briefly remember the weird internet and kill two minutes before doing a different task. Maybe you’ll catch a glimpse of something you used to love and it will remind you to look it up and watch that. Now there goes another few minutes, and congratulations on not dealing with the rest of your day.
I don’t really care if this video is lame. I always thought it was so funny. Particularly when I was 15. Feel free to watch whichever old YouTube thing you personally prefer.