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News of YouTube's Death Has Been Greatly Exaggerated

An argument from Peter Hartlaub of the San Francisco Chronicle on why big business can never be cool, even when it acquires something that is: The circle of life on the Internet is very cruel: When giant corporations take interest in online cultural phenomena, they instantly become exponentially less cool. From Napster to MySpace to "Snakes on a Plane" -- all stopped being a good thing once the Man showed up in the room. In the wake of Google's acquisition of YouTube, parents groups are already calling for a safety czar to regulate the user-built video library, much like the one that MySpace appointed when News Corp. purchased that site. And is there anything that kills a party faster than a safety czar? In a sense, Google's purchase of YouTube will almost certainly kill YouTube. Of course, the declining edginess of aging cultural phenomena is exactly what inspires people to create something new in the first place. If Hartlaub is right, we can expect the next big Internet thing any day now.