If you are an inquisitive type of a person then it’s always a joy to find a tool that lets you take a sneak peek behind the curtain at the behaviour of others. Those clever people from the MIT Center for Civic Media have created one such tool, What We Watch, that allows us to track the movement of popular YouTube videos around the world. Furthermore, it matches up those countries who share the same taste in twerking, cat videos and other viral clips.

The site lists the top ten videos in a range of countries from Chile to Japan which you access by clicking on the interactive map. As well as shared interests, it also shows the videos that are unique to each country. For instance “Musika Malie” from the Wellington College Chorale is trending in New Zealand but I’m struggling to find any sign of it elsewhere. Staying with New Zealand, we can see that they share the same YouTube viewing habits as Australia, Canada, The UK, Ireland and perhaps most surprisingly, Sweden. The most popular video in New Zealand right now is ‘Scream For Ice Cream’ which features a lot of screaming (for ice cream). And boobs.

what we watch usaCloser to home, Watch We Watch, which pulls through data from the YouTube Trends dashboard, confirms that viewers in America watch the same kind of video content as viewers in Canada, the UK, Australia, Germany and Holland. Popular videos in the States including those all singing, all dancing Evian babies as well as the recent Cheerios cereal ad. Unique videos include an ad for the Kreyos Smart Watch which made the list despite only being on the YouTube top trending list in the U.S. for 4% of the days tracked. There’s no sign of Miley or Ylvis though even those two “artists” make an appearance in the popular videos of other countries on the map.

MIT Center for Civic Media Director Ethan Zuckerman gave more insight into the project on his blog:

We were interested in seeing what videos were popular in different countries, and especially, what videos were popular in more than one country. For the past six months, we’ve gathered data from YouTube to understand What We Watch….These are the videos trending in any of 61 countries – they are not necessarily the most popular of all time, or even most popular that month, but they are receiving a lot of attention in a short period of time.

It’s a great little tool which gives an extra level of data to those curious as to the viewing habits of others. It’s also fascinating to see the reach of certain viral videos across the world.

what we watch