The last two days of my life have been amazing, insane, sleepless, and humbling!

Front Page of VentureBeat

After the Google Instant announcement on Wednesday, I decided to build YouTube Instant, a site that lets you search across the vast YouTube video database in real-time.

Visit YouTube Instant

It started out as a bet with my roommate, Jake Becker. I bet him I could build real-time YouTube search in less than an hour. Sadly, I lost the bet - It took me 3 hours to finish it, and another couple hours to polish the user interface into what you see now at But, I’m happy with the result.

Before going to sleep on Thursday night, I posted this status update to my 700 Facebook friends:

Original Youtube Instant status update that started it all

After updating my status, I went to sleep. I awoke Friday morning to an inbox full of people congratulating me on YouTube Instant, sending me links to press coverage, and sharing it by the tens of thousands on Twitter and Facebook.

The Washington Post called to do an interview, Venture Beat put my picture on their front page, and Mashable wrote a front page storytwice. YouTube Instant also made it to the All Things Digital front page and the Hacker News home page three times.

YouTube CEO Chad Hurley even asked me if I wanted a job …over Twitter!

And, the full conversation:

YouTube CEO Twitter Conversation about YouTube Instant

The Media Frenzy

I can’t believe how much press my simple little tech demo has received! I’m both proud and humbled at the same time.

Here’s a list of the media outlets that have covered YouTube Instant so far:

Update [1/17/2012]: Here is a list of even more media articles that I never got a chance to look at or post here. And a video:

Needless to say, YouTube Instant has gone viral. Without pausing to worry about what caused this magical event to transpire, I set about upgrading my under-powered server to a much beefier configuration capable of handling the Slashdot effect. For most of Friday morning, my server was visibly struggling to serve the flood of web traffic.

After several nerve-racking minutes with the site offline, I finished the upgrade and got the site back online. I had to keep tweaking the Apache server settings on the live site to keep memory usage from spiking and locking up the server. Things eventually stabilized.

My Network Traffic - Last 30 Days:

My Network Traffic - Last 30 Days

I built YouTube Instant using a combination of the YouTube API and YouTube search suggestions. I initially ran into some issues when Google automatically blocked my server for making too many repeated requests.

However, it took me 5 minutes to rewrite the site to query YouTube directly for search suggestions, eliminating the round-trip to my server. Now, all the magic happens in each visitor’s browser, so it’s faster than ever. (Thanks to Jake Becker for reminding me that <script> tags don’t have cross-domain restrictions!)

Thanks so much!

Thank you everyone for all your nice comments, helpful suggestions, and for spreading the word about YouTube Instant. I’m going to work hard over the coming days to make YouTube instant more full-featured - and even faster than it is now. Stay tuned!

Update #1

I met Chad Hurley (YouTube CEO) at YouTube HQ!

Update #2

YouTube Instant received 1 million visitors in 10 days!

Like YouTube Instant!

(If you liked this, you might like Travels in Japan.)

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Feross Aboukhadijeh Hey, thanks for reading! I'm Feross Aboukhadijeh, a programmer, designer, teacher, and mad scientist. I am currently building WebTorrent, a streaming BitTorrent client for the browser, powered by WebRTC. In my free time, I work on StudyNotes, a website to help students study better and get into college.

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