It's a new world. If you want to see the images of the year, the most dramatic, happy, sad, creepy, whatever you're into, you don't have to wait for the year-end recap on TV. They're right there on your computer, available always.
Whether it's kids doing stupid, reckless things like setting fire to themselves, a cat playing the piano or a beauty queen taking a pratfall onstage, it's all on YouTube -- the most popular -- and other video sites like Google and Yahoo.
One hundred billion videos were watched this year, and there's no formula for success in grabbing viewers. There's artist George Vlosich, whose medium isn't paint and canvas; it's the Etch a Sketch. Vlosich taped himself making an incredibly detailed sketch of basketball star LeBron James. Five hours of drawing condensed into a few minutes went viral, as it's called, and it's been watched 1.7 million times (click here to watch).
Another popular video was a 22-second tape that convinced many UFO believers that finally, proof was at hand that ETs had invaded. An amazingly realistic fake created with CGI software showed what looked like flying saucers cruising over Haiti. It's had 6 millions views so far this year.
Lots of the watching seems to go on at work. One study found 78 percent of employees waste time on the Internet during the workday. It's called "cyberslacking," and it's said to cost companies $170 billion in lost productivity.
Many of the people love watching animals. A video of two napping sea otters floating on their backs at the Vancouver Aquarium and -- get this -- holding hands! has been clicked on more than 9 million times (click here to watch).
Another winner was the video of Nora (click here to watch), a cat who plays the piano when the mood strikes her. Nora's video has gotten 7 million clicks so far.
The most popular animal video of 2007 was shot by an American tourist on safari in South Africa's Kruger National Park. A herd of cape buffalo approach a pride of hungry lions, and the lions pounce. The herd scatters, but a buffalo calf is caught and sent tumbling into a watering hole (click here to watch).
It's not surprising that people like watching animals, says Rutgers University anthropologist Helen Fisher.
"For millions of years, we spent more than hours watching animals. We spent generations, decades, centuries, millennia watching other animals, watching their behavior to see how we could hunt them ourselves, to see where the danger was, to see how animals might work against us or for us."
As the lions try to drag the baby buffalo onto shore, a crocodile chomps down on the baby buffalo's leg. A tug-of-war ensues, and the lions eventually win. But just as the baby seems doomed to become the lions' lunch, the buffalo herd returns like the cavalry in the old movie serials. Has it returned to rescue the baby? Yes!
The herd surrounds the lions, and one buffalo charges and flings a lioness into the air. Then the biggest surprise; the calf is still alive! It gets to its feet and rejoins the herd, and the buffalo chase the lions away. This remarkable video has been watched more than 20 million times.
"We see some of us in those animals," Fisher explained. "We see some of the fear of us getting caught by a group of lions, or us defending our baby against a predator."