My name is Earnest Pettie, and I have over 15 years’ experience working in the viral web. Yep, I’ve been doing this about as long as viral videos have been mainstream. Today, I’m the Trends Insights Lead on the Culture and Trends team at YouTube, where I lead our team’s global trends research work and aid our trends storytelling work. I began my career, however, as a viral video curator, working for sites like Stupidvideos.com and Break.com, where I spent all day, every day, trying to find the videos that would be the next big thing.
The insight that changed everything for me was the realization that if you were to take a step back from any of the individual viral videos that passed through our browsers each day, the aggregate of all of those videos would create a snapshot of culture. For me all of those individual snapshots have now become a flipbook of our shared history.
What drives me is the idea that I can help people appreciate our digital culture and the role that we all play in creating it. It’s my hope that by leading people to this understanding, I can help perpetuate a sustainable creator economy and a culture we all participate in.
From developing the research methods we use to identify, analyze, and catalog trends to working on projects like YouTube Nation, YouTube Rewind and Flowers, I have spent the past decade devoted to telling the story of YouTube, its creators, and our culture. All of that, though, is work that I do for YouTube. This site is for me.
This site is half traditional blog and half place for me to capture ideas without the pressure of having everything fully thought out. For those of you who are interested in the ideas, you can subscribe to the Rough Draft newsletter, which contains only those posts.