What different arenas are left to be ventured in content creation? originally appeared on Quora: the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.
I think we have many generations of innovation still to come!
I joined YouTube in 2008, when it was typically associated with grainy cat videos and dogs on skateboards. Soon after, I gave my first public talk to an industry group in New York. I started with a sentence that would become my rallying cry for the next decade: “Online video will do to cable what cable did to broadcast,” and I talked about how we would go from 3 channels to 300 channels to 3 million channels. People in the room responded with empty stares. It sounded outlandish that YouTube would name itself in the same sentence as ESPN, CNN, and MTV. At that time, we were being compared to MySpace or Flickr, not a challenger to Hollywood.
A decade later, the online video → cable → broadcast narrative has clearly turned out to be true. So what did everyone miss? I think they missed the Maker Generation. They missed the power of enabling a whole world of creators by removing gatekeepers.
The first time I got a real sense of this phenomenon was with my college friend Sal Khan. Sal started posting YouTube videos as a way to tutor his niece. The videos he posted were simple screencasts of him solving algebra problems—basically the opposite type of content you’d see on TV. But people loved it. One night over dinner, Sal asked me if this viewership he was seeing was real. And if it was, should he quit his stable job as a hedge fund analyst and devote himself to it full time? Sal’s wife (pregnant at the time) gave me a piercing look. I told him I couldn’t promise anything but that I was betting my career on online video. Sal quit, and Khan Academy is now one of the largest educational networks on the planet.
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I call this the Maker Generation. It’s what happens when platforms embrace the idea that talent is everywhere, and people just need the right tools to create.
At Coda, we believe these makers will be taking on software next. These makers won’t just be engineers in Silicon Valley; they’ll be problem-solvers and tool-makers, from places as wide and unexpected as the ones YouTubers came from. As I often say at Coda, when we’re successful, we’ll help to do to software what YouTube did to video.
It’s worth noting that makers like Sal aren’t just cropping up on YouTube or in Coda’s Doc Gallery; they are emerging in multiple parallel industries. They are on Etsy selling their crafts. They are on Airbnb, opening their own bed and breakfasts. I think you could categorize Fortnite and Minecraft in this trend too: Even in gaming, people design their own experiences.
In all these instances, platforms stepped aside and allowed their communities of users to turn themselves into communities of makers. And we still have many makers left to enable.
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