Do you miss the old days of YouTube? When the platform was dominated by random videos of people’s everyday lives; instead of movie trailers, commercials, clickbait, and lots of awfulness all vying for a place in your queue? A website called defaultfile.name manages to strip that all away by randomly playing videos that were uploaded to YouTube with the camera’s default filename—and I can’t click away.
There have been previous attempts to mine YouTube for undiscovered treasure like this (be it genuinely entertaining or cringe-worthy) but those have always sought out videos with zero views; randomly grabbing clips that no one has ever watched. With this new approach, you’ll occasionally find a video with a few thousand views, but for the most part, it guarantees a steady stream of clips from amateurs who are uploading their content using automated tools, or directly from their devices. It’s safe to assume they don’t know the first thing about SEO, optimizing their videos to maximize views, or, in some cases, that their clips have even been uploaded to YouTube in the first place.
The site provides a preview of the next video to be loaded, which is useful if you find yourself falling down the rabbit’s hole at work as there’s the genuine risk you’re going to stumble across something you don’t want your co-workers seeing. YouTube has a hard enough time policing NSFW videos with millions of views being reported by hundreds of users; so it’s unlikely anyone’s keeping a close eye on the content down at this level.
Social media thrives on humanity’s voyeuristic tendencies, but few share snippets of their daily lives now without at least a thin layer of shellac to make their photos, videos, and posts more likable. Defaultfile.name is like entering YouTube through its less-flashy back door, and somehow watching a high-schooler practice a speech in front of his grandparents while the camera struggles to keep focus feels far more compelling than the umpteenth teaser for the next Avengers movie.