May 3, 2010 Comments Off
This week’s readings focused on the evolution and rise of the popular video Web site, YouTube.
Andrew Keen offered a good introduction to the rise of the site, describing the possibilities of Web 2.0 as a whole. He compares Web 2.0 to the “monkey theorem”, claiming if you have an infinite number of monkeys and an infinite number of typewriters, one of the monkeys will create a “masterpiece”. This is true with Web2.0 as well, but I think the odds are a lot higher than those of monkeys because the technology we are presented with is more advanced than typewriters, and we as humans are more advanced. Keen then describes blogging and how our culture feels the need to constantly use it, with 500 million blogs expected by 2010. Because of this, however, it is difficult to tell the difference between what is real and what is just information posted on the Internet. As an example, Keen references Wikipedia, which we have talked about in class and learned about its development through documentaries. While Keen discusses Wikipedia in a negative connotation, I believe it is in fact incredibly useful. I was told early in schooling that the Web site was not to be used for research papers, but it was still a great place to start with initial information, helping me narrow down my searches. The problem, however, is that random users can go onto the site to change the information posted there. Keen continues to state problems with Web 2.0, including how Google searches rely solely on popularity of a site. He discusses the decline of actual news on the Internet, citing examples like Reddit or Digg, both of which are sites that have “Top 20 stories” pertaining to celebrity gossip rather than breaking news. Although I am not familiar with either of the sites, it reminded me a lot of Perezhilton.com, though there are others very similar. Lastly, Keen shows how narcissistic YouTube, and the rest of Web 2.0 is, something we’ve discussed in detail with social networking sites like Twitter and Blippy.
Henry Jenkins examines the history and development of the site. He originally argues that Web 2.0 is actually possible because of sites like YouTube and other sites that are developing. Jenkins defines YouTube as ‘a normal, calm, established appropriation of speech” (110). He goes into the evolution of the site, believing “do it yourself” practices date back to newspapers in the 19th century. In the late 1990′s, Jenkins proves many predictions of the site as “garage cinema”, even though YouTube wasn’t started until 2005. However, while sites like YouTube have been in the works for a long time, Jenkins argues that “YouTube exemplifies a convergence of culture” (113). He believes that the site changes the way of distribution of videos, not the production, and that is what makes it different. People are skeptical of the how the Web site is commercially owned because minorities and non-normal things will “drop out of the picture”. I disagree with this, however, because there will always be opposition to majorities. Though the voices will be smaller, the minorities will always post. Jenkins then goes into the argument that YouTube is diversely motivated, and this diversity is encouraged by democracy on the Internet. The site is “generative” because of this diversity, allowing for a variety of cultures to be heard. It also allows for people within cultures to be “self-reflective”. Jenkins continues to discuss the evolution of the site, concluding that the anonymity on the Internet before is the reason YouTube did not develop sooner, citing music remixes as an example. Many people want to use YouTube as a non-profit channel, something I think can be easily done. Jenkins uses the example of the Harry Potter Alliance, which can definitely be developed further into larger projects. The owners recognize the potential for the site, despite the “Astroturf” Jenkins brings up. The “Astroturf” blurs the lines between real and fiction. Lastly, Jenkins further defines the digital divide when he discusses how the value of the site is not distributed equally. Again something we’ve discussed in class and within other readings, there is a “participation gap” between those who use and those who do not use the site. Therefore, the minorities that do not utilize the site will be pushed aside, ultimately widening the digital divide.