YouTube bashers often argue that the video-sharing site offers little more than a place for people to watch other people behave as fools.
Fans say that YouTube, a service that allows anyone to post videos on to the Web, is a new form of communication. On Monday, Time magazine sided with the latter group by naming YouTube "Invention of the Year."
San Bruno, Calif.-based YouTube beat out such innovations as Gardasil, a vaccine that fights off a sexually transmitted disease and the Hug Shirt, which simulates the feeling of being embraced by a loved one.
"YouTube had tapped into something that appears on no business plan," writes Time's Lev Grossman, "the lonely, pressurized, pent-up video subconscious of America. Having started with a single video of a trip to the zoo in April of last year, YouTube now airs 100 million videos and its users add 70,000 more every day."