YouTube Users Spoof Google's Acquisition of YouTube with Fake Kidnapping Story

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Online video creators are collaborating on the first viral video series that exposes a fictional "GooTube" Conspiracy. The series was initiated by one person, and has evolved into a collaborative storyline. YouTube video creators -- who have never met -- are participating in the plotline by posting new videos and advancing the plotline.

In an increasingly popular "underground" movement by active members of the YouTube video community, a collaborative plotline has emerged that depicts Google and YouTube conspiring for media domination. The story, "The GooTube Conspiracy," began when one YouTube user posted a video claiming he was kidnapped by YouTube founders Chad Hurley and Steve Chen. Other YouTube creators began submitting unsolicited videos that developed the conspiracy story. Most of the creators have never worked together or even met each other.

"We're experimenting with a new narrative art form," says Kevin Nalty, who plays "Nalts," a character desperately fleeing from YouTube and Google. "I've been amazed by how instantly people get engrossed in the storyline and take it in new directions."

"I launched this series to experiment with collaboration among the viral video community," said Nalty. "We're discovering an amazing amount of untapped creativity, and the plotline is evolving in a fluid, interactive way." Nalty recently was encouraged by viewers to ditch his car, and take refuge in a farm house basement until other YouTube viewers tracked and rescued him.

"This video collaboration is like the grown-up version of "Choose Your Own Adventure Books" we read as kids," Nalty says. "Only now we have unlimited space and limitless number of remote contributors."

"We're never more than two days ahead of the story," he says. "So someone can comment via text or video tonight, and change the plotline in less than 24 to 48 hours." In a recent weekend in Pennsylvania, Nalty joined several other popular YouTube submitters to develop and shoot the conspiracy plot. The individuals had never met before but had watched each others videos.

"Try explaining to your wife that you need to go on a road trip on Sunday to meet a total stranger, and shoot a conspiracy video that involves you getting tossed into the back of a Mini-Cooper," says Nalty, who also plays a neurotic weatherman for web media startup MediaMoGirl.com.

Nalty had more than 250 short videos online before beginning the GooTubeConspiracy, and has a blog (WillVideoForFood.com) that encourages independent video creators to create, promote and profit from their online videos.

Nalty says online video was originally about individuals ranting, wiping out or lip synching. Now, he says, people want "serialized content" and they don't want to watch passively. "The barriers between viewers and creators are collapsing." Nalty says. "It used to be innovative that American Idol allowed viewers to vote. Now people want to participate more actively in what videos they consume. That's the exciting part of the collision between television and online video."

Nalty is married with four children and works full-time as a marketer, so he often shoots the GooTube Conspiracy series while commuting. His short online videos have generated more than 3 million online views, and featured on ABC, CNN, Fox and other networks. He has received awards from various video contests, and hosts his own video website called CubeBreak.com. He writes about online video in his blog, WillVideoForFood.com, and on TheDailyReel.com. He submits his videos to YouTube but actually hopes they are seen via sites that share advertising revenue with creators -- such as Revver, Metacafe, Brightcove and blip.tv.

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Angela Calman
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