Four Minutes and Twenty-Nine Seconds of World-Embracing Capitalism

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The Internet
has been the capitalist’s best friend, where virtual unknowns can
quickly rise to the top of the pack if they have the right idea
and a good plan. You mainly hear from the big winners such as the
founders of Google and the like. However, there are many people
who may not have become billionaires, but nevertheless they benefit
in their own right by leveraging the ingenuity of the web.

In just under
a month, over six million viewers have seen the YouTube video, Dancing,
a low-tech, yet colorful video of Matt Harding traveling around
the world doing a jig in dozens of locations with hundreds of people,
many of them children. The producers took a simple, campy premise,
filmed it in front of vivid backgrounds and synched it to music.
Any one of us could have been Matt, that is, if you’re able to grin
and flap your elbows and knees in front of a camera, but the difference
is that Matt took the initiative to make it happen and created it
in such a way so that people would enjoy it and tell their friends.
After the success of his first self-financed video in 2005, the
popularity compelled Matt to envision and plan loftier videos, and
after finding a sponsor he has been able to create two more, each
one bigger and better than the one before it.

For me, the
most relevant aspect of the video is the sheer number of people
whose lives were improved in the process. Naturally there was Matt,
a man who loved to travel, and thus became a wealthier person by
being able to fulfill that dream. If he’s lucky, he’ll leverage
his success into a travel show or book. Another beneficiary of the
trade was Stride gum. Unlike other corporations that subsidize these
types of ventures, Stride did not ask that Matt wear a logo t-shirt
or pass out Stride gum to people he met. Instead, there was a moment
at the end of the video where the producers thanked Stride for making
it possible. Will that improve sales? Yes. While at Sam’s Club today,
I purchased a box of Stride gum since in a world of parity products,
what have the other chewing gums done for me lately?

There were
many other parties that benefited from this trade other than of
course YouTube. Amazon MP3, an online music store and a much-needed
competitor of iTunes, got a boost in sales and clout by becoming
the exclusive distributor of the song used in the video, Praan,
which is now one of their bestsellers. Thanks to the publicity that
six-million viewers can give you, the singer, Palbasha Siddique,
will surely get several more contractual offers to sing.

Then there
are the six million viewers who didn’t benefit financially from
the venture, but nonetheless became a little bit richer after watching
the video. It might have been a lesson in geography and anthropology
for some. For others it might have been a heartwarming experience
to realize that children from far-flung places like Bhutan and Zambia
act just as silly as American children when allowed to let loose.
For me it meant that all around the world there are people who are
willing to express themselves in motion with an American they just
met. To me that says a lot about the human race: that despite our
differences in language, appearance and customs, when given an opportunity
we will dance together.

July
16, 2008

Todd Steinberg
[send him mail] works with
his family at a wholesale
teddy bear company
in Dallas. In his spare time he is furiously
working on his cartoon, "Don't Tell My Wife I'm a Cult Leader,"
which he plans to unleash on the Internet and beyond in 2008.

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