You Tube and Participatory Culture

Broadcast Yourself – the simple tag line You Tube uses to describe itself, says a lot about the empowerment given to users of the online video sharing web site. Empowerment to express themselves in a way that was not possible only a short time ago. Empowerment to reach out to an audience hundreds of thousands of consumers of online video content. You Tube has given a voice to ordinary people who want to share their story with the world. But shouldn’t video content intended to reach large audiences be left to professionals who can produce high quality work worthy of mass viewership? The results say no.

The truth is You Tube has allowed ordinary people to participate and create highly entertaining and meaningful content without the knowledge or resources of a professional. Video can be shot with countless types of consumer cameras or even cell phones and uploaded to the internet instantly or after careful preparation using various editing software. And with there being little to no cost in doing so, participants can improve over time by publishing their content and listening to feedback from viewers.

As this participatory culture becomes more prevalent, the lines between producers and consumers becomes exceedingly more blurred. Consumers of You Tube are, in many cases, also producers of content. They create video that means something to them, and they share it hoping it will have value for others as well. Those who choose not to contribute must decide which content being uploaded has meaning or value to them. But, with so much to choose from, how can individuals possibly filter through all that content to find what’s important for themselves? However it works out, the distinction between producer and consumer is becoming exceedingly complex.

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  1. #1 by greti79 on October 5, 2010 - 11:27 am

    I agree the distinction between producer and consumer is complex…by our own making. There is still an original producer and then you have the consumer who morphs the production into an item they like and want to use. We do this all the time. Think of any brand out there and then ask a co-worker or friend to describe the brand. They may get the tag line right, but most importantly they may have an idea of what the brand is beyond the tag line. What is interesting about YouTube and digital media in general is the amount of transparency. We can follow the morphing process of an original video into what the audience sees and interprets.

  2. #2 by antikamania on October 6, 2010 - 2:02 pm

    I also think that YouTube gives some opportunities for the ordinary people to improve their skills to the professional level. The website allows the user to upload the video as many as they want. It means to me that YouTube is the place for amateur video producer to learn (from the comments), improve their works and become professional producer.

  3. #3 by anna2009mcdm on October 6, 2010 - 7:20 pm

    Good essay!
    YouTube makes everyone become a media outlet.
    Not just that, but it’s also made us become the filmmaker. But the concept of “filmmaker” is different from the traditional one. We donot need to be a pro, a master to know about film techniques; we can just produce what ever we want. Donot need to follow any rules.

  4. #4 by Ingrid Butler on October 7, 2010 - 11:44 am

    You Tube is a great place to produce content on a shoestring budget but what is the true cost? How much should we allow? Should we be thingking about regulation? What about freedom of expression? I don’t believe that video sharing is going anywhere in the near future so these types of video sites will continue to produce content creators for a very long time.

  5. #5 by shane on October 7, 2010 - 12:35 pm

    You make some good points about what people are doing online, but you say the results are in concerning who should be making content. I agree anyone who wants to make videos should be able to publish – of course. But are the engaging or telling a story? Since the cost of these videos is little more than time (both for producers and consumers watching them) I suppose it doesn’t really matter, but for those with a message and a story I hope they realize there is much, much more to being an effective communicator than just “putting it on YouTube”.

  6. #6 by evanwestmedia on October 7, 2010 - 3:50 pm

    You raise a very important point: “with so much to choose from, how can individuals possibly filter through all that content to find what’s important for themselves?”

    Currently we have to rely on what YouTube suggests to filter relevant content that people actually care about. My prediction is filtering is going to be much better in the future with social recommendations and through services like Google TV. If your friend posts a video that you find interesting on a social network, they have done the filtering for you. With Google TV you will still have to rely on a service to do the filtering for you, but it will provide much more relevant videos to consumers.

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