"YouTube is TV's equivalent of the Statue of Liberty," says Robert Thompson, director of the Center for the Study of Popular Television, at Syracuse University.
"Bring me your crazy, your badly produced, your anything, we'll take all of it," he says.
But why do we crave it so? Part of the answer lies in the Web-fueled appetite for the new, the now, the uncensored.
Some also point to the growing preference for "unbundled" entertainment, where you don't have to watch the whole TV show or listen to the whole album or buy the whole newspaper to get the good stuff.
There's also the proven interest in reality shows and their moments of all-too-painful humiliation. One of this year's top movie comedies, "Borat," was like one long caught-on-film frolic.
In this new universe, the only thing that's finite is our capacity to pay attention. During its video music awards broadcast this year, MTV streamed 30 different backstage cameras on the Web, capturing every conceivable encounter and conversation. How much is too much?
"For every 100,000 things that are up there, there's one that's … bad enough to be 'good' bad as opposed to just 'bad' bad," says Thompson. "You can only watch so many high school kids miming lyrics from a Pokemon song."
We may enjoy serving as our own editors, but it would take an entire lifetime just to watch one day's worth of YouTube videos. So "20/20" has selected all the year's most arresting video images and tried to make some sense out of this new and overwhelming video tubescape. We'll bring them all to you on a special "20/20," Friday, Dec. 29 at 9 p.m. ET.
And with 50 million video-ready cell phones, and 18 million already shooting, we will continue to be inundated with images as never before: the sublime and the ridiculous, the heroic and the heartless, the trivial and the world-changing. Plus some "Christmas Treats."