By Staff Writer Seth Tamarkin
The internet is at an odd crossroads. On one hand, there has never been a time where information was so readily available. On the other hand, information and content is being erased daily on a scale that has never been seen before.
I first discovered this paradox as a young elementary-schooler during the height of YouTube’s fame, in the mid-2000s. Every one of my friends had a YouTube channel where he spent hours a day making videos. Only about a year later, all our videos were deleted for violating copyrights, such as the terrible crime of using a song in the background of one of our videos. Other accounts were deleted as our old emails were deactivated too.
In one fatal swoop, YouTube had destroyed so much of our childhood as well as our hard work. While that is merely one (small) way that the internet erases data, the recent erasure of influential YouTube icons Machinima’s entire library shows the greater risks of data removal.
Machinima’s name refers to a visual medium using computer graphics, typically through video games such as Quake or Halo. Founded in 2000, Machinima didn’t reach its prime until its YouTube channel was created in 2006. The channel was a multi-channel network, meaning that many creators all worked under the Machinima banner, including famed YouTube series Red vs Blue, which eventually found its way to Netflix due to its popularity. At one point, TechCrunch.com noted they were “the largest single page view generator on Youtube”.
Yet, none of that mattered after Otter Media took over the company, after Machinima Inc.’s parent company was taken over by AT&T last year. One of their first moves was to erase every single piece of content Machinima ever had, essentially thirteen years’ worth of creative content from hundreds of collaborators.
Even worse, none of said collaborators had any idea their life’s work was casually erased. Their only heads-up was an email from Otter Media’s Fullscreen Inc., noting that they were trying their best to ensure a “smooth transition”. However, some Machinima creators allege that it took them days to hear back from Fullscreen on that status of their career.
As terrible as this is, many suspected this would happen for years.
For one thing, Machinima has been on a downward slope, as all multi-channel networks have, because YouTube creators are starting to get paid enough on their own to not need a parent network.
One YouTuber, who’s channel goes by the name Olli43, foresaw Machinima’s waning relevance and took it upon himself to create his own channel for his videos. His Olli43 account now boasts over a million subscribers, showing how irrelevant Machinima has become.
By 2019, most of Machinima’s partners had also created their own channels.
Regardless, finding out your work has been deleted forever is a crushing blow. In the age of the internet, this is becoming all-too common for content creators.
Machinima boasted over 12 million subscribers and were forebearers to video game coverage on the internet, but now their history has been lost in the annals of internet time.
Rest in peace Machinima but let this serve as a lesson that nothing is forever on the internet, even though it may seem that many things are.
This may just be a hypothesis, but it is a dangerous outcome.