With more than 3 billion hits a day, YouTube has become the ideal platform for anonymous people to find fame thanks to vlogs, the audiovisual incarnation of the blog.
What could possibly be of interest about what Charlie McDonnell, a twenty-something from England, has to say in his videos? Not much, one might assume from such a description, but the more than 1,700,000 subscribers to his YouTube channel charlieissocoollike would appear to disagree. As a result, Charlie has racked up more than 266 million views of his videos on the popular video-sharing site.
But what is so special about his channel?
It is a videoblog, or vlog, with a V. The audiovisual incarnation of the millions of blogs that can be found on the Internet.
When blogs began to appear, they democratised the content made available to the public at large by allowing users to publish whatever they wanted and to get the kind of exposure the net can offer them.
And what is happening with the vlog is no different. In fact, it is even more remarkable, if that is possible. All you need to make a vlog is a camera (it could be a webcam), a place to film your video and a story to tell or something to teach.
Comedy, music, tutorials, beauty advice and current affairs are some of the various subjects dealt with in these new video diaries which have taken over YouTube.
As with most trends, vlogging began in the United States, and some of the most famous vloggers internationally are Americans.
Karen Alloy (spricket24), Grace Helbig (dailygrace) and Ryan Higa (nigahiga) are a few of the most-followed US vloggers, both within their own country and across the world. Their wit and originality have meant they have captured the attention of thousands of subscribers for each of their videos.
Yet this trend has quickly spread all over the world. With more than 2,600,000 subscribers, Mexican vlogger Gabriel Montiel (Werevertumorro) has the most-subscribed channel in the Spanish-speaking world. Melo Moreno (YellowMellowMG), from Spain, and Germán Garmendia (HolaSoyGerman), from Chile, are more examples of the great success of Spanish-speaking vloggers.
As for the UK, it is one of biggest producers of vloggers.
The aforementioned Charlie McDonnell, for example, relates his experiences, his day-to-day life, shares his interests in amusing videos, and is even brave enough to pick up the guitar and sing for his followers.
Nineteen-year-old Jack Harries, whose channel JacksGap has more than 650,000 followers, does something similar, but with his twin brother Finn. Both answer questions from their fans or share their thoughts and opinions on all kinds of subjects.
You don’t have to look hard, however, to find a different sort of vlogger, one who provides advice as well as entertainment.
Zoella (zoella280390) belongs to this category. She has almost 362,000 subscribers, all interested in what she has to say about such banal matters as the beauty products or new clothes she has bought that month.
Then there is Isabel Llano (Isasaweis), a Spanish computer engineer whose videos have had more than 56 million views in the three years her channel has been in existence. She is yet another type of vlogger.
Isabel makes videotutorials. In them she shows her audience everything from how to put on makeup for special occasions to how to cook certain recipes.
This has made her a real YouTube guru amongst her followers and she was even given her own TV show on Spanish national television.
Why is it that these anonymous people thrive in the age of new technologies and information? Over the last few years the Internet has meant that anyone with web access can publish what they want and become a producer of content just like any major medium.
Blogs were the first to give anonymous users the tools which allowed them to express what they wanted in a personal way and gave them the chance to interact with other users who read their posts.
In a world saturated with audiovisual language it is perhaps not unusual that these blogs should take the next step and become what we know today as the videoblog.
Internet users like to watch people who make them laugh without putting on an act, but simply because of their comical manner of expressing themselves.
They want to know what unaffected people like themselves think on different subjects. And the fact is that the success of these anonymous individuals, though perhaps not so anonymous any more, is their ability to identify with the rest of the anonymous people out there.
(Translated by Fiona Marshall)