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.