While we like to focus on the humorous cat videos that threaten to consume regular Internet users, user-generated content has tons other obvious uses, like protesting laws that make life difficult for urban bicycle riders, or protesting misguided funding repeals by oversensitive Internet service providers. These are just two examples of the hundreds of millions of megabytes worth of user-generated content that goes beyond mere humor or titillation. In fact, there's so much user-generated content nowadays -- in so many different formats -- it's almost impossible to keep up with it all.
That's why, when you see something like the following video, created by Ron Gabriel, pointing out inefficiencies and safety issues in our day-to-day lives, it's important to spread the word. What we have is a video called "3-Way Street" and, it does a fantastic job of capturing the sheer chaos enjoyed by New York City motorists, pedestrians, and bicycle riders on a daily basis. To emphasize the risk the intersection has, Gabriel added his own graphics to action:
In the words of its creator, the goal over the project is as follows:
By summer 2010, the expansion of bike lanes in NYC exposed a clash of long-standing bad habits — such as pedestrians jaywalking, cyclists running red lights, and motorists plowing through crosswalks.
By focusing on one intersection as a case study, my video aims to show our interconnection and shared role in improving the safety and usability of our streets.
Over at Gabriel's blog, he posted a follow-up to the video where he discusses the goal of video in greater detail. The following quote captures the theme quite well:
The video is not an attempt to say NYC streets are the most dangerous in the world. They are not. It is an attempt to clearly illustrate very specific behaviors — that if adjusted — would make a huge difference in our streets and our quality of life...
Gabriel also indicates the video is not about bicycle lanes, because, apparently, he's leaving that fight to Casey Neistat.
Whatever the goal, such creative use of something so common as an Internet video is something that should only increase. Don't get me wrong, funny videos showing the family cat licking milk off its whiskers right before it falls off the table are indeed great, but then again, so is using the medium for a greater purpose, rather than relying on general silliness.