Monday, January 19, 2009

YouTube: The Reference Tool

At First, Funny Videos. Now, a Reference Tool / By MIGUEL HELFT

FACED with writing a school report on an Australian animal, Tyler Kennedy began where many students begin these days: by searching the Internet. But Tyler didn't use Google or Yahoo. He searched for information about the platypus on YouTube.

"I found some videos that gave me pretty good information about how it mates, how it survives, what it eats," Tyler said. Similarly, when Tyler gets stuck on one of his favorite games on the Wii, he searches YouTube for tips on how to move forward. [snip]

While he favors YouTube for searches, he said he also turns to Google from time to time.

Tyler's way of experiencing the Web - primarily through video - may not be mainstream, at least not yet. But his use of YouTube as his favorite search engine underscores a shift that is much broader than the quirky habits of children.

The explosion of all types of video content on YouTube and other sites is quickly transforming online video from a medium strictly for entertainment and news into one that is also a reference tool. As a result, video search, on YouTube and across other sites, is rapidly morphing into a new entry point into the Web, one that could rival mainstream search for many types of queries.

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