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There are 60 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute. That’s a lot of content, and a debate is raging if humans or machines can curate the content faster. As communications professionals, we’re constantly bombarded by companies who have the Next Great Algorithm, but according to Neetzan Zimmerman of The Daily What, it will take a long time for machines to truly replace human curators.

Zimmerman and Marc Hustvedy from Chill led a debate at SxSW on Friday as to whether or not machines are capable of understanding the ability for videos to become viral.

Companies like YouTube have complicated algorithms designed to deliver tailored content to individuals. Zimmerman, however, is confident he can use his criteria of “if I think it’s funny, others might” he believes is difficult to computerize.

Case in point: remember Rebecca Black and her “Friday” video? The video was sitting on YouTube for weeks before someone sent Zimmerman a message that read “there’s a video that makes Justin Bieber look like Shakesphere.” Zimmerman’s decision to put the video on TheDailyWh.at helped kick off a tidal wave of syndication that eventually led to “Friday” becoming the fastest video on YouTube to reach 100 million views.

Additional criteria from Zimmerman for choosing the right content for his site? “Am I entertained? If so I’ll break it down and look at what does this video have that sets it apart. I also identify videos that are not yet viral [his threshold is 30,000 views].”

As a communications function, the idea of collecting content from online can take time, but it’s an imperative part of any strategy to be sure brands are represented appropriately.

What say you? How far away are machines capable of being truly able to detect what humans will be interested in watching? Or is it simply that machines and humans will work together to help deliver the next “Friday” to your television, smartphone, laptop or tablet?

*Cross-posted on Weber Shandwick’s Social Studies blog here.

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