Is There Anything YouTube Can't Do?

Two fresh takes on YouTube in today’s New York Times.

On the op-ed page, Daniel Kimmage files a piece from Baku, Azerbaijan, titled "Fight Terror With YouTube" about how Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda aren’t keeping up in the Web 2.0 world.

As Mr Kimmage writes:

Statements by Mr. bin Laden and his chief deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri, that are posted to YouTube do draw comments aplenty. But the reactions, which range from praise to blanket condemnation, are a far cry from the invariably positive feedback Al Qaeda gets on moderated jihadist forums. And even Al Qaeda’s biggest YouTube hits attract at most a small fraction of the millions of views that clips of Arab pop stars rack up routinely.

As unpleasant as the prospect of Al Qaeda "hits" might be, Mr. Kimmage sets aside any concerns that Osama bin Laden will ask you to be his Facebook friend anytime soon: "Mr. Zawahri solicited online questions last December, but his answers didn’t appear until early April. That’s eons in Web time…. Even if security concerns dictated the delay, as Mr. Zawahri claimed, this is further evidence of the online obstacles facing the world’s most-wanted fugitives. Try to imagine Osama bin Laden managing his Facebook account, and you can see why full-scale social networking might not be Al Qaeda’s next frontier."

Over in the Style section, Abby Ellin has an article headlined "Coming Soon to YouTube: My Face-Lift," all about cosmetic surgeons recruiting via the video-sharing site. "Doctors—and patients—have taken to online video postings with gusto," writes Ms. Ellin. "Type in the word ‘Botox’ on YouTube and around 2,400 videos pop up. ‘Breast augmentation’ garners over 2,000; ‘Lasik’ around 2,000 videos."

Unlike Al Qaeda, the makers of these videos are ready for Facebook: "For Dave Gibson, 53, a New York actor, who had his Lasek surgery with Dr. Chynn in May, posting a video on Facebook and YouTube was a no-brainer. He even added his own blow-by-blow narration." Is There Anything YouTube Can't Do?