YouTube, the real Wayback Machine (my Andy Rooney tribute)


I have a few things to say to you about YouTube, but before I do that I want to test your memory a bit. Remember the Wayback Machine? You remember that site where you can type in a URL of a long forgotten web site and see what it looked like back in 1999. I still like to go back to it once and a while and see what I can come up with. Funny how sometimes I think the old web site from the ‘90s looks a lot better than the new one that somebody probably spent a lot of money on.

What’s even better about the Wayback Machine now is all the video and photos and old community shows that the Internet Archive has assembled for us to see.

I don’t mean to get all Andy Rooney on you, but isn’t it funny how cable TV never came up with a similar site than the Way Back Machine? They have plenty of programming at their disposal. People would like to see some of that programming, I imagine. Instead, customers keep shelling out a lot of money each month just for the new stuff, some of which isn’t necessarily wanted or very good. And then there are all the channels that you don’t want. I’m not sure who exactly wants the unwanted channels and programming on it. There’s some debate on what ranks as the worst channels ever to grace cable television.

Sure, there’s some decent re-runs on TV, but traditional television in a lot of ways just forgets the really good stuff whether it’s old or new.

What if I want to see John Lee Hooker Live in Montreal from 1980? Can cable show me that? What about Guns N’ Roses Live at The Ritz from 1988? Cable? No, I’m not going to find that on cable. I’m not going to find Stephen King chatting with John Grisham for an hour and a half (although that has the makings of a nifty PBS special.)

I’m not going to find my man Vince Staples ripping on some social media posts for a few minutes, either. I’m only finding King and Staples here and here on YouTube. Staples at three minutes and thirty five seconds (and not even rapping) is better than a lot of things that the Man will make you pay for on your cable bill.

It took me a long time to appreciate that YouTube is only as powerful as your imagination. I mean it’s not exactly The Aleph by Jorge Luis Borges, but it might be as close as we’re going to get in our lifetime. And, by the way, it’s free. You’re not shelling out $100 bucks or more every month for it like cable. (Hopefully, you’re not paying close to that for Internet.)

So listen, Mr. Cable Company. I’m not really sure what your long term plans are. But I’m not waiting around to find out. I have a feeling that a lot of other people aren’t waiting either.

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