One hundred years into the future, when our great-grandkids look back to what was capturing the world's imagination on YouTube in 2011, what will they make of us? Will they still be delighted by babbling babies? Will they still be "so excited" about the weekend? And will they be any closer to understanding the mystery of the space-traveling toaster pastry cat?
Today, we rewind through the videos and channels that absorbed our collective global attention this year. To compile these lists, we looked at global view counts of popular videos uploaded throughout this year, and, in some instances, we aggregated views across multiple versions of the same video. 2011 was a year of amazing new channels and new stars being discovered, awesome creativity, and of course, Rebecca Black. It was also a year of powerful news stories playing out on YouTube, as people witnessed and documented uprisings and natural disasters, touching personal moments and moments of protest.
In total, there were more than 1,000,000,000,000 (one trillion) playbacks on YouTube this year (yep, count ‘em, 12 zeroes). That's about 140 views for every person on the earth. More than twice as many stars as in the Milky Way. And if I had a penny for every … OK, you get my drift, it's a big number.
So to all of you who picked up a guitar and sang a love song, held your camera phone high above a protesting crowd, danced along to "Friday" or just forgot the webcam was on, thank you. You make YouTube what it is, and we can't wait to hear your stories next year.
Without further ado, your most-viewed videos of 2011.
Most viewed YouTube videos globally (excluding videos from major music labels)
Copyright 2011 YouTube. All rights reserved. KPHO contributed to this report.