Following, I will try to remediate my own perspective on YouTube considering what we discussed on Friday and heard on Saturday.
“YouTube has opened up a new forum available for the uploading of manipulated and edited images allowing the creators and audience to share their personal perspective of a star image in a community based platform thereby allowing for a new crosscultural dialogue and the (re)creation of multiple innovative star texts.” (Thornton 2010: 22)
This quote from Niamh’s paper is focused on star texts but takes up almost every aspect of YouTube described in Grusin and Jenkins’ texts. She points out that fans select scraps even from different media and remediate a new ‘product’. Depending on quality or content fans get to have fans themselves. What makes YouTube especially valuable to transculturality in this respect is the availability of material. YouTube offers a global archive giving more people the opportunity to access material that otherwise they would have a marginal chance to obtain. YouTube and other web platforms could be seen as “media-archive interfaces” which create a immense cultural contact zone.
This, in my opinion, is what Grusin sees as extension and complexificating. YouTube helps people from all over the world creating a profile and also creating a self or at least a projection of self; they extend their ‘actual’ person (6) into even several selves or fictionalized selves. This process results in a hybrid persona which is not located in one place but in multiple places and can therefore be seen as transcultural.
For Jenkins, on the other hand, leaving traces of the self is not equal to curating yourself (123). Interestingly, I think this could also be compared to the mask effect and Goffman’s concept of different roles which Julia brought up in the post about M. Butterfly. We take on roles that we think are appropriate or useful for a certain social context (Goffman,Erving. 1983. Wir alle spielen Theater. Die Selbstdarstellung im Alltag. 19-65; -. 1986. Interaktionsrituale. Über Verhalten in direkter Kommunikation. 10-53. [Sorry, I only have the German editions]).
This according to Grusin causes positive affective feedback loops to develop (7). But this does also happen outside YouTube in the ‘real’ world. Usually anybody will try to re-produce whatever was rewarded by positive reactions. This is a basic principal of general development. It could maybe be seen as problematic when thinking about creating a self which is completely dependent on YouTube. Depending who sees your vid you will get positive feedback which leads to the problem of niches in relation to divergence and convergence culture. How do we find people’s traces (124)? Being a fan alone is not good because if nobody sees your ‘self’ you might not get a feedback at all though your product is highly aesthetic or has important content. Again, it can be argued that this also happens outside the internet. YouTube/ the net in general even offers more of an opportunity of directly addressing the part of community the ‘producer’ wants to reach out to, even if it is on the other side of the world.
On Friday, this also led to a discussion whether or not YouTube itself is democratic. Jenkins sees a problem with the majoritan logic YouTube uses (124). And I agree that this procedure appears to undermine the idea of horizontal communication as it ‘hides’ minority perspectives. This is why I think it would be better to leave out the term democratic in this context, at least if talking about YouTube’s structure.
On the other hand, I would certainly agree to see YouTube as an instrument of the democratic process. The clip Heather posted about the news anchors all using the exact same words to introduce a story could be seen as proof for this. YouTube, in this case, is promulgating what is going on in the media world: Therefore, YouTube indeed has a very important task as a kind of public watchdog. But – as Prof Lozano pointed out – the channel itself is privately owned, so you cannot know, if what you see is ‘real’. A nice example for this is that of young women who have become famous on YouTube as trend scouts. They post, for example, make-up tutorials and sometimes when the number of followers increases they are ‘bought’ by make-up companies – sometimes officially by offering them a job. Accordingly, the clips on YouTube are from then on labeled as ads
But sometimes this did not happen officially. The danger, in my opinion, is that of the same illusion of plurality and diversion which we already have with magazines and TV channels. This is not to say that YouTube is a source of evil or that I want to see it shut down To me, the problems described above are not necessarily only connected to YouTube but to anything in the public sphere (if there is something like this). So, YouTube could still offer the possibility to initiate personal meta-communities, giving every person the opportunity to find space independent of place and accordingly maybe overcoming the ‘powergeometry ‘ to a certain extent
“Thus, the spatial is socially constituted. ‘Space’ is created out of the vast intricacies, the incredible complexities, of the interlocking and the noninterlocking, and the networks of relations at every scale from local to global. What makes a particular view of these social relations specifically spatial is their simultaneity. It is a simultaneity, also, which has extension and configuration. But simultaneity is absolutely not stasis. Seeing space as a moment in the intersection of configured social relations (rather than as an absolute dimension) means that it cannot be seen as static.This aspect of space has been referred to elsewhere as a kind of powergeometry.’” [emphasis by me; Massey, Doreen. 1992. “Politics and Space/Time.” In: New Left Review 196.1 (1992). 65-84.]
Maybe, as with any other media, we need to ensure that people are aware of its constitution (in the sense of structure). As Professor Lozano put it: We have to develop and share Media Literacy. This concept has already been used, for example, by the discipline of source criticism in the field of history (starting in the 19th century; Leopold von Ranke, Hegel and Historismus at the base). Especially the University of Bielefeld had a Special Research Group about source criticism as part of teaching history (Rohlfes, Joachim. Geschichte und ihre Didaktik, 59-96; Pandel, Hans Jürgen. Quelleninterpretation. Die schriftliche Quelle im Geschichtsunterricht [these, as far as I know, are only available in German]).
I really like the idea about YouTube being a transcultural archive and a contact zone that basically is accessible for anybody. And its decentralizing power provides a high degree of diversity, there is no doubt about it. I am curious about the further development of this meta-community; and [irony on] of course that is the only reason why I visit YouTube regularly [irony off].
YouTube – friend or foe? The truth is somewhere, not out there, but inbetween…
Thank you everybody for an inspiring week!