"Me at the zoo" is the first video uploaded to YouTube, on April 23, 2005, 8:31:52 p.m. PDT, or April 24, 2005, at 03:31:52 UTC. It features YouTube's 25-year-old co-founder Jawed Karim in front of two elephants at the San Diego Zoo, noting their long trunks. Using Karim's camera, it was recorded by his high school friend, Yakov Lapitsky, a University of Delaware PhD student at the time, who was in San Diego to deliver his research to the American Chemical Society.
|"Me at the zoo"|
|Produced by||Jawed Karim|
|April 23, 2005, 8:31:52 p.m. (PDT); 17 years ago|
The transcript of the video is as follows:
All right, so here we are in front of the, uh, elephants, and the cool thing about these guys is that, is that they have really, really, really long, um, trunks, and that's, that's cool, and that's pretty much all there is to say.
The Los Angeles Times explained in 2009 that "as the first video uploaded to YouTube, it played a pivotal role in fundamentally altering how people consumed media and helped usher in a golden era of the 60-second video". The Observer described its production quality as poor. Digital Trends called it a "nondescript affair" and "tongue-in-cheek" video that set "the tone for what was to come" on YouTube.
Greg Jarboe describes the video's representation of an "ordinary moment" to be "extraordinary" for its time, demonstrating YouTube co-founder Jawed Karim's vision of what YouTube would become. According to Jarboe, "Me at the zoo" showed that YouTube was not simply about trying to "capture special moments on video" but rather trying to empower YouTube users "to become the broadcasters of tomorrow". This paved the way for YouTube to become the world's most popular online video-sharing community. Aaron Duplantier said that the ordinary "everydayness" and "dry aesthetics" of "Me at the zoo" set the tone for the type of original amateur content that would become typical of YouTube, especially among YouTubers and vloggers. In addition to being the first video on YouTube, it has been described as the first YouTube vlog clip.
Business Insider ranked it the most important YouTube video of all time, stating: "It is representative of YouTube—it doesn't need to be this fancy production; it can be approachable. The first YouTube video is something anyone could create on their own." The New York Observer also ranked it the most important video in YouTube history, stating "the thing is practically a historical artifact". BuzzFeed News listed it among the 20 most important online videos of all time.
On multiple occasions, Karim has used the video's description feed to criticize YouTube's business actions. In November 2013, in response to Google requiring YouTube users to use Google+ accounts to comment on videos, he updated the description to say "I can't comment here anymore, since i don't want a Google+ account". In November 2021, the video's description was changed in response to YouTube's decision to remove video dislikes from public view, reading: "When every YouTuber agrees that removing dislikes is a stupid idea, it probably is. Try again, YouTube🤦♂️". A few days later, the description was changed again to a more detailed condemnation of YouTube's decision.
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- Hoby, Hermione; Tom Lamont (April 11, 2011). "How YouTube made superstars out of everyday people". The Guardian. London. ISSN 0029-7712. OCLC 50230244. Archived from the original on October 23, 2013. Retrieved May 1, 2011.
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Born as a clearinghouse for quick, quirky homemade videos, the site now seeks to add more professional and profitable content.
- Hoby, Hermione; Lamont, Tom (April 11, 2010). "How YouTube made superstars out of everyday people". The Observer. Kings Place, London, England, UK: Guardian Media Group. ISSN 0029-7712. OCLC 50230244. Archived from the original on October 23, 2013. Retrieved May 1, 2011.
A girl in red hot pants helped elect a US president, a British pensioner became everyone's favourite grandad. In just five years, the YouTube website has invented a new kind of celebrity
- "'Elephants have really long trunks' — YouTube's first ever video upload turns seven years old today". Digital Trends. April 23, 2012. Retrieved August 26, 2019.
- Jarboe, Greg (2009). YouTube and Video Marketing: An Hour a Day. John Wiley & Sons. p. xxi. ISBN 9780470577820.
- Duplantier, Aaron (2016). Authenticity and How We Fake It: Belief and Subjectivity in Reality TV, Facebook and YouTube. McFarland. p. 122. ISBN 9780786498499.
- "YouTube created a FOMO viewing culture over the past 13 years". Polygon. April 23, 2018.
- Baer, Drake (February 20, 2015). "The 10 most important Youtube videos of all time". Business Insider. Retrieved August 26, 2019.
- "The 10 Most Important Videos in YouTube History". The New York Observer. February 13, 2015. Retrieved August 26, 2019.
- "The 20 Most Important Online Videos Of All Time". BuzzFeed News. BuzzFeed. September 27, 2012. Retrieved August 29, 2019.
- Cheredar, Tom (November 8, 2013). "YouTube cofounder's first public comment in 8 years: why the f*** [sic] do i need a Google+ account to comment on a video?". VentureBeat. Retrieved November 11, 2013.
- "YouTube's first video, changes description, calls the decision to stop dislike counter 'stupid'". The Indian Express. November 15, 2021. Archived from the original on November 15, 2021.
- Vincent, James (November 17, 2021). "YouTube co-founder predicts 'decline' of the platform following removal of dislikes". The Verge. Retrieved November 18, 2021.
- on YouTube
- "Chemical Engineering Yakov Lapitsky Professor and Graduate Director". www.utoledo.edu. Toledo, Ohio: University of Toledo. Retrieved June 5, 2021.