You might have caught the news last week that the video Gangnam Style has been viewed so frequently, (2 BILLION plus times), that it actually 'broke' YouTube, whose underlying code had been unable to store and display a video views count above 2,147,483,647.
YouTube subsequently fixed the bug, if it even could be called a bug, and now assures us that it can handle a views count maximum of somewhere north of 9 quintillion.
Let's hope that Gangnam Style, (or Grumpy Cat or Celebrities Reading Mean Tweets or anything else) doesn't ever get too close to breaking YouTube again.
Because there is a cost of sorts in all this YouTube watching. An opportunity cost really, for all of us. A few months back, before Gangnam Style broke YouTube, the folks at the Economist did some calculations to estimate what else humanity might have been able to accomplish with all the time spent (140M hours at that point), watching Gangnam Style.
Here is the chart from the Economist that will proably make you weep a little bit for humanity:
One Gangnam Style equates to 20 Empire State Buildings, 4 Great Pyramids, and almost 2 new Wikipedias.
That is potentially the kinds of things we could have accomplished had we spent the time watching Gangnam Style in more productive endeavors.
Look, I am not sitting here saying I spend every waking minute in deep study, volunteering for the less fortunate, saving abandoned puppies, or helping elderly folks cross the street.
I waste plenty of time. I do.
But seeing this kind of data does make me pause a little. I know I can do better, and I only contributed 1 measly view to the 2 Billion count for Gangnam Style.
I know I can do better. Probably you can too.
Have a great weekend!