Organizing the World’s Emotion: YouTube and Our Video Identities

tags: action, social media, video

What we are encountering is a panicky, an almost hysterical, attempt to escape from the deadly anonymity of modern life… and the prime cause is not vanity… but the craving of people who feel their personality sinking lower and lower into the whirl of indistinguishable atoms to be lost in a mass civilization. – Henry Seidel Canby, 1926

At the Personal Democracy Forum, Kansas State University Professor Michael Wesch presented “The Machine is (Changing) Us: YouTube Culture and the Politics of Authenticity”, which looks at how YouTube is changing the way we connect to one another. Jordan Raynor’s post has the best summary (with some video) I’ve found.

Wesch starts with traditional TV. When the conversation is on TV, you have to be on TV to have a voice, have to be on TV to be significant.

  • All this media -- billions of dollars, brilliant people -- all for me. It's flattering 
  • One of the sources of "Generation Me" by Jean M Twenge. 

YouTube, in contrast, offers the possibility of "connection without constraint".

Each of these collaborations has had thousands of remakes and remixes, even parodies.

Which brings to video conversation. Revelations here are public, yet beyond what we would say to our closest friends.

For all its emotional power, though, video blogging has not yet taken off. Seesmic, the highest profile of the video discussion sites, has not grown the way its founder had hoped. From a user standpoint, discovery is a problem. If the contents of these videos were searchable, might we find more of them? Right now there’s no way to scan a video at, say, double time, and no transcription of the audio. Technology will eventually fix these shortcomings, of course. But will we be ready?

The Machine is (Changing) Us: YouTube Culture and the Politics of Authenticity from mwesch