Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

All Hail Gangnam Style: YouTube’s Most Popular Video, Ever

Thursday was Thanksgiving. Yesterday was Black Friday. And today is Gangnam Style Day — the day the world’s most-popular-but-not-sure-why video became the most popular video on YouTube ever, with some 804 million views.

No need to show you the video, since you’ve already seen it, over and over.

But perhaps you’re like me, and have never seen the previous reigning champ: Justin Bieber’s “Baby.” So here you go:

And here’s a chart from YouTube-tracker ChannelMeter, which shows how Psy’s crazily fast ascent hasn’t tailed off in the last month. ChannelMeter figures the clip has been generating some 6 million views a day since its debut in July, while Bieber gets about 400,000 — he’s been around for nearly two years.

ChannelMeter predicts Gangnam will hit the billion mark on December 16.

What does it all mean? I assume many crappy thesis papers on that subject are being cranked out right now, but my hunch is that the answer is something like: YouTube is very big + K-pop is very big + YouTube is very big with Asians and Asian-Americans + random chance.

Fun thought experiment: Get in the way-back machine and imagine that we had YouTube in 1994. How much bigger does the Macarena get?


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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik