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YouTube to pull back funding, and skin healing plastic

Molly Wood Nov 13, 2012
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It’s got to be like a bath of endorphins: A $5 or $10 million check to get your big idea for a YouTube channel off the ground. Google sent out a hundred million dollars of these check in January. But imagine the stress hormones when word comes that people aren’t watching enough and the money is getting cut off? Advertising Age is now reporting that more than half of the channels are about to get dropped.

“Everytime Google makes a tweak or a change, hearts are broken, dreams are broken, and potential fortunes evaporate. There is nothing anyone can do about it, but I do think it shows just how dependent we’ve become on Google, especially if you are trying to make a name for yourself on the web,” says Siva Vaidhyanathan, chair of the Media Studies department at the University of Virginia, and the author of the book The Googlization of Everything: (And Why We Should Worry).

So far the list of the channels getting the ax hasn’t been revealed. But Marketplace’s Silicon Valley reporter Queena Kim has been speaking to YouTube and they offered hints about what is working for an audience that’s diverse and under-40.

“One of the shows that they pointed me to is a show called Awkward Black Girl. It’s by a woman named Issa Rae, she’s African American and is a big fan of shows like Curb Your Enthusiasm, Seinfeld, Parks & Rec — shows that we sort of think of as ‘white shows’ that she never saw herself in. And so, in YouTube web fashion, she decided to create one,” says Kim.

According to Kim, another channel that’s getting attention is called YomYomF, which is an Asian American channel. YomYomF is run by three people, one of whom is Justin Lin, the director of the Fast and Furious franchise. “They created the top ten subscribed to YouTube channels,” says Kim, and although viewers skew slightly Asian, “their following is super diverse.”


Imagine this kid, one day he’ll grow up to study engineering at Stanford, but years ago he was watching Luke Skywalker from Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back

“Skywalker lost his hand, his father cut his hand off. A robot repaired his hand and I remember the robot poking on his finger and he goes, ‘ouch.’ I think I kind of see my entire research career working on skin technologies taken from prosthetic devices,” says Benjamin Tee, a grad student at Stanford.

He’s part of a research team that’s come up with a plastic that repairs itself like skin heals itself. Hydrogen bonds and nano particles are part of the secret. It’s something that could help make gadgets fix themselves after you drop them or prosthetic devices for humans recover after a gash. The plastic is electrically conductive, so it can be controlled, and Tee says, it all happens quickly: “Conductivity restores within 15 seconds, 90 percent, and the mechanical strength restores up to 75 percent within several minutes. Overtime it heals 100 percent, so it’s actual much faster than human skin can heal itself. It’s pretty cool.”

Tee says this project started after he nicked himself — not with a light saber — but by trying to slice cheese.

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