Review: ‘Like, Comment, Subscribe’ Watch YouTube’s Rise | book reviews
LIKE, COMMENT, SUBSCRIBE. By Mark Bergen. Viking. 464 pages. $30.
YouTube has become such a part of everyday life and popular culture over its 17-year history that it’s easy to forget how the site’s concept began.
In “Like, Comment, Subscribe”, Mark Bergen recounts the turbulent history of YouTube from 2005, when it was envisioned as a simple video-sharing service. He even notes how its creators originally envisioned the idea of a dating-focused video site, a concept that now seems bewildering when looking at the reach of YouTube.
But one concept that stuck was its usability – a site their mothers should be able to use easily, as one of its founders said in an early email.
Anyone with an internet connection knows what a technological and cultural giant the site has become since then, and Bergen offers a revealing look at how YouTube has struggled with that growth.
Bergen, a writer for Bloomberg and Bloomberg Businessweek, begins the book with a quote from Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” and it’s easy to see why. From oversized YouTube personalities to disinformation campaigns, YouTube often comes across as the creature whose creators have lost control of.
The fast-paced story explores YouTube’s challenges, including its handling of misinformation about the 2020 election and the coronavirus pandemic. This clearly explains how YouTube’s economy has changed over time and the backlash creators and users have faced during those changes.
Bergen, who covered Google for several years, ably covers the rise of YouTube. The cast of characters includes YouTube creators which may seem like ancient history (remember lonelygirl15?) for many users now.
Bergen’s book, however, highlights how YouTube’s history has been driven by the millions of people who watch or post its videos every day.