YouTube founders Steve Chen (left) and Chad Hurley (right) announced on Tuesday that the video-sharing site is launching internationally. Only nine countries, including the UK and Ireland, will be part of the initial rollout but there are plans for more territories to be added later.
Veteran Google employee and vice president of search products and user experience Marissa Mayer managed to deliver a presentation on the future of search despite water coming in through the ceiling and a complete power failure half way through her session. Mayer, who has been with the company for eight years, recalled how, at the start of her career, it was possible to organise all the websites on the internet in hand-built lists.
Mayer explained that there was a place for both automated search and other techniques, such as using human intuition and knowledge to group and search for relevant content. "When the web is as large as it is today, I think the right answer is a blend of both [artificial and human search]; some elements of human intelligence [are] necessary — there is a lot of work being done around knowledge search in Asia."
Google's chief executive, Eric Schmidt, was on hand to answer questions about wider strategy, including some hard questioning on the company's stance on censorship. Google was heavily criticised for launching a censored version of its search site in China.
Schmidt acknowledged that it had been a difficult choice for the company but that doing business with China had opened up a channel of communication and was better than Google completely depriving Chinese citizens of the opportunity to access its services.
The Google boss added that YouTube could also help to break down information barriers by allowing so-called citizen journalists to bypass state-run media operations. "We look forward to YouTube being filled with video of what is happening in the world rather than want stakeholders want to show," he said.
Schmidt cited the example of a TV station in Venezuela that had been banned by the government of Hugo Chavez but had got around the censorship by posting its content on YouTube. However, when asked by a journalist what Google would do if the Chavez government asked for the content to be removed, Schmidt acknowledged that the company would have to consider the request if the content in question violated an explicit and existing written law.
The special press event in Paris saw Google convert a building in the city's opera district into a miniature version of the company's Googleplex headquarters, complete with comfy Wi-Fi room. Unfortunately, the infrastructure in the building wasn't up to Silicon Valley standards and the Wi-Fi room was without Wi-Fi for much of the event. Communications problems were compounded by a leaking roof which led to the power being shut down during Marissa Mayer's talk.