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YouTube videos may peer through Google-y eyes one day

Google, the internet search giant, has acquired the web video upstart in a $1.65 billion dollar deal. While the now rich founders of YouTube promise to keep the informal quirky nature of their site intact, different pressures from the new owners - like minding a bottom line and copyright issues - may force changes.

The groundswell of creativity that YouTube's user-friendly format inspired could be crushed by Google's colossal footprint, says John Broughton, an associate professor of psychology and education at Teachers College, Columbia University, who specializes in media and visual culture.

"I like the kind of anarchistic trajectory you have on YouTube," Broughton says. "You've got freedom of expression and all kinds of inappropriate materials," although the hits are mainly on "the really interesting and quirky things."

Originally, the founders of Google - former Stanford University graduate school classmates Larry Page and Sergey Brin - were "probably just as radical" as Chen and Hurley, but "everybody gets a bit more mainstream" when large sums of money are at stake, Broughton says. He wouldn't be surprised if YouTube is pressured to change its rough-hewn format and aesthetic style. And then, "you'll see young people re-creating YouTube under a new name."

This article appeared in the 10/11/2006 edition of the Baltimore Sun.previous page