I'm all for user-generated context (cf. this blog). But there's a problem: most YouTube videos are two minutes too long. The guy who posted a hilarious YouTube video celebrating getting tenure? Loved it, but it's about two minutes too long. The Clinton-Obama Star Wars parody? Also hilarious, but also at least two minutes too long. Everything I see, I think, "This would be so much better if it were 2 minutes shorter."
I think the problem is that people are too enamored of their own great ideas. They have not learned to rein themselves in and realize when the joke's played itself out. They have not been forced to develop the art of a tight edit. I don't claim to be a filmmaker, but I do know a little bit whereof I speak. A long time ago (in an undergraduate career far, far away) I made television. I learned to choose, frame, light, shoot, screw up the audio, fix the audio, and write to video. I frequently did these things badly. My classmates and I spent hours upon hours in editing rooms, toggling knobs back and forth in a miasma of endless choices: 3 frames more here? 2 fewer there? We could deliberate for hours about 1/30th of a second. None of what we did was brilliant (believe me), but we knew that eventually we had to share those choices with the class, the professor, or the boss. And in those conversations, we learned a lot about what to do and what not to do.
So what I am asking here? I don't know exactly. Maybe something akin to that old grandmotherly advice for young girls: get all gussied up to go out, then take off one piece of jewelry. Less is more. Cut two minutes.