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May 4, 2008

YouTube is all about You!

As I am writing this, I have the YouTube video with the song, "Oh how the years go by" sung by Amy Grant playing. To begin, while growing up at the end of the 20th century, the TV was referred to as the tube. It is still referred to as "the tube" . . . but move over -- YouTube is the hot new sensation in the 21st century. Comparing TV and YouTube, on TV there are a lot more roadblocks to get on air whereas on YouTube it is a lot easier to post material online.

I remember toward the beginning of this semester, Jennifer W had posted a blog quoting The West Wing writer/creator Aaron Sorkin: "I am all for everyone having a voice; I just don't think everyone has earned the microphone. And that's what the Internet has done." In response, I had written: "It made me think of the year Time Magazine elected person of the year as you meaning us/the people. Check out: http://www.time.com/time/covers/0,16641,20061225,00.html
One of the main reasons why Time named you person of the year was because of the internet applications like YouTube where regular/non-celebrities could get noticed by anyone. . . ."

YouTube is amazing in that it allows regular every-day people to create and post videos (and it could be thought of as we educate each other through our YouTube videos). YouTube is kind of like TV but on the web; nonetheless, there are a lot of differences. On TV, not everyone could add their own show to the TV line-up. With YouTube though, all you need is an account to add videos. Of course, you would need to produce them. It is definitely easier to get your produced video on YouTube than on NBC, ABC, CBS or any of the TV Networks. In addition, when you look at the programming on TV, there is a lot of diverse types of shows but not as diverse as YouTube videos. Let's talk about YOU . . . With the TV, YOU could choose which channel you go to and what shows to watch but that's that. With YouTube, YOU could begin watching a video, stop it if YOU don't like it, go to another video, post YOUr comments, upload YOUr own video, and choose YOUr settings such as disabling comments or allowing ratings, etc. With TV, YOU are able to turn off the TV if you do not like the show, but the show still goes on (on the network). The interactiveness of TV is definitely less than YouTube and the web in general. Never could YOU post a comment on TV like YOU do on YouTube.

Although some may not know it, YouTube is very educational. From attending the U, I have grown more of an appreciation of diversity. YouTube has so much, an eclectic collection of videos, super diverse amount of content. With the diverse video collection, viewers could learn about a wide variety of topics. Remember that creative commons YouTube video that we had to watch a few weeks ago? That was educational. There are educational institutions that have accounts on YouTube. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has a YouTube account. One of the most amazing professors is on it: Professor Walter Lewin. I have been amazed by him and appreciate his love for teaching. I am not even a science person! Without YouTube, I probably would not have known of him. I end with a promo video of the amazing MIT Professor Lewin:


May 1, 2008

Everyone wants to be a star?

YouTube does seem to be the epitome of the idea “everyone wants to be a star? with its massive collection of amateur videos. People of all ages, cultures, and creeds can make their own attempts at mass acknowledgment by people from all over the world by themselves and from the comfort of their own home. The problem with this is that while there is much potential for exceptional creative works to be created in this atmosphere this is partly because of the sheer amount of content being created, some is bound to be good but this does also allow for the opposite as well. The same problems that face flicker and del.icio.us hold true for YouTube. The tags of the content is decided by the creator or up-loader so that finding content about a specific topic can be difficult and more often then not some content will be lost in the vast cloud of tags.

This is compounded by the shear number of people trying to be “stars? through this relatively new form of media. Adding to the already confusing assortment of tags is embedded the problem that has plagued many media distribution programs, copyrighted content. As with Napster before YouTube copyrighted content can be problematic for use other then private viewing.

Miscellany & YouTube

Sara

I am quite fond of the funky old Bell Museum of Natural History so I agreed to attend a focus group on the plans for a new and presumably improved replacement. We talked about what we liked about the existing museum and why and watched a presentation on the new building and plans for exhibits and programming. Thanks to David Weinberger, I realized the plans for the new museum would look just like other museums. It will house physical collections of formerly natural things and exhibits designed by experts that teach visitors about the history of natural things. The new Bell will be another example of an organizational scheme of knowledge, in the form of a museum, firmly rooted in the 1st and 2nd Orders of Order.

After reading Weinberger, the very idea of a museum, a physical building, enclosing Natural History, seems rather absurd. “Natural history museum? implies an essentialist definition of nature as though nature is something that can be clearly and neatly distinguished from what it’s not. According to Weinberger, such a distinction is neither natural nor possible. He argues that the development of knowledge in the digital age illustrates that “essentialism is failing in every way:?
• There are no distinct boundaries between things like natural history and what—unnatural history?
• All definitions are culturally and socially determined [Weinberger 220].
Besides, even the most ardent anti-environmentalist would have to admit that humans affect the natural world and vice versa.

Is there a way to radically reconceptualize the Bell Museum consistent with the 3rd Order of miscellanea? Or does the very notion of museum preclude miscellaneazation?

What if the new museum was an open, participatory project? Disowning and releasing the museum’s physical assets to the realm of miscellany might be amusing in the abstract. Imagine visitors adding and subtracting things and inventing impossible combinations of animals and plants. Practically speaking, it would be disastrous. Imagine brittle specimens disintegrating in the hands of children, extinct stuffed animals being sold on the black market … OK, so that won’t work.

But what about structuring the museum around Weinberger’s metabusiness model? Would it be possible to release the Bell Museum’s intellectual assets into the great miscellaneous universe for the public to enhance through mixing, linking, and rethinking? According to Weinberger, this is the key to success in the digital age. He warns that consumers would “… rather have the information, navigation, and experience? on their own terms [Weinberger 228]. Although profit is not the mission of the Bell Museum, education and understanding is. By opening its information bank, the museum would enable the public to convert knowledge into greater understanding.

The issue of fragmentation connects Weinberger with discussions about YouTube. Weinberger asks whether knowledge is being fragmented and if we are being fragmented along with it [Weinberger 200]. The author of “YouTube vs. boob tube? would answer yes. Garfield argues that YouTube will be profitable and address a social problem because it unites people in an otherwise splintering society. “What it has going for it is its sheer size. In a fragmented world, there is a need for community and a need for massness [Garfield 2006].?

The observations of Michael Wesch support Garfied’s theory. Wesch, an assistant professor of anthropology at Kansas State University, created an audiovisual illustration and explanation of the power of Web 2.0 technologies that achieved stardom on YouTube. One of the benefits of making the video, Wesch claims, was that "My video created great connections for myself and the university [Joly 2007].? Given the enormous audience of YouTube, videos like Wesch’s are becoming a popular and successful recruiting and marketing tool for colleges and universities [Joly 2007].

Working for the marketing department of a university, I can attest to the popularity of video among higher education institutions. The demand for promotional and informational video has grown so rapidly in the last few years that our production staff can no longer meet the demand. A recent trend is to produce a video in place of a printed viewbook and distribute it on a Flash drive.

The value of video as a marketing tool seems clear. Is tYouTube as valuable as an educational tool? As Garfield points out, content on YouTube is out of control [Garfield 2006]. That makes it a risky environment for advertisers and educational institutions alike. On the other hand, YouTube is a rich experimental environment and an excellent object of study in itself. Given the importance of video in marketing campaigns, producing a video, posting it and acculturating oneself to the environment of YouTube translates into valuable job experience.

I think YouTube is valuable to educational institutions and everyone else because it is public. It provides an accessible publishing platform for voices that the profit-motive and conventions of conservative institutions typically stifle. On YouTube, we can all absorb, share and compare ideas normally restricted to the fringe with those squarely planted in the center.

Here’s one of my YouTube favorites and a good illustration of what happens when unusual pairs of ideas occur: Medieval Monastery Book Helpdesk

References

Weinberger, David. Everything Is Miscellaneous: The Power of the New Digital Disorder. Times Books, 2007.

Garfield, Bob. “YouTube vs. boob tube.? Wired.com. December 2006.
http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/14.12/youtube.html?pg=4&topic=youtube&topic_set=

Joly, Karine. “Lights, Camera, YouTube, Action!? UniversityBusiness.com. August 2007. http://www.universitybusiness.com/viewarticle.aspx?articleid=848&p=2#0

Sharing Content IS Sharing Creativity

I have always watched youtube videos through my other friends computers, because my spyware software had not been renewed and I didn't have the latest version of flash (and I didn't want to install it due to viruses that might manifest themselves in the application), so I had not been able to indulge in all the content that was readily available to view at my own convenience. In the article, Boom Goes The Dynamite, Bob Garfield opens up the user's mind to a vast array of media that keeps the user wanting more, because you can type anything in and get everything out. It's not like a search query where you type a phrase in and an empty "0" comes back. The media content is rich and personalized and nothing is better than watching real-life scenarios take place on screen. For example, what if you could choose to watch an acted out scenario and a real-life scenario that resembled the same content? What would you choose? If I had the money to gamble with I would say that most people would want to see the real-life portrayal, because of the emotions that are instilled in the moment. Garfield nailed it when he stated that media content centered around the idea that the average person wants to, "step in front of the world and be somebody" (Boom Goes The Dynamite, pg. 1). Where everything used to be contained in a closed silo, there is now a fine line between what is broadcast on the internet and what is broadcast on tv, because now you and me can share and make media content with no restraints.

In the article, Lights, Camera, YouTube, Action, the sentence that most stuck out in my head was, "more and more higher ed institutions are regularly producing full-fledged online video programs" (Lights, Camera, YouTube, Action pg. 1). This reminds me of how MIT released the university's entire curriculum online to any average joe without charging a penny in tuition fees. This just goes to show you that this stepping stone process that we call web 2.0, is helping to shape mass collaboration as a platform that is represented in almost every aspect of a persons life especially through media content.

A Whole New Perspective

When I began reading the Wired article by Bob Garlfield I became slightly embarassed that I had seen every single one of those videos. I was one of the 2 million who watched the napping cat and I can't count the number of times I've seen Numa Numa. But then I realized that this it not something to be embarassed of. As the article continued and put the profits of YouTube into perspective I began to realize that it is more than a guilty pleasure it is a powerful tool both economically and for making change. The Lights, Camera, You Tube, Action article by Karine Joly furthered this point by talking about the academic success that YouTube provided assisstant professor Michael Wesch. The success of his video showed how vital YouTube can be in increasing awareness of just about anything. Another great example of using YouTube to increase awareness is also presented in the article by Karine Joly. As discussed in the article, "Duke on Camera", a great example of a college using YouTube to increase awareness of their school and to encourage new applications for admission.

So after careful consideration and a little reading from the articles this week I'm able to draw a few conclusions about YouTube. That although I use it primarily for entertainment when I'm at work or a good laugh during a study break it's real potential is limitless. As discussed in the Wired article, it grosses a huge amount of money and can reach hundreds of millions of people with very low overhead cost. It appears to be a near perfect business model. Furthermore, its applications for everything from spreading the work of aspiring muscians to informing potential applicants to a college is rather intimidating in retrospect. So the next time I log on to watch the "Evil Eye Baby" while stuck in traffic I will be forced to remember and consider the impact that YouTube is having on not only the Web 2.0 world but the real world as well. It's income potential and wide-reaching capability make my lunch time entertainment seem a little less like an embarassing vice and a lot more like one of the best resources I could find for just about anything on just about any topic.

So maybe it's time to ask yourself, What can YouTiube do for you?

Podcasting, YouTube, and Science 2.0

Sorry for the really long post, but since we didn’t do a media project in this class, I thought I’d share my podcasting experience from this past week. And then talk a bit about the readings.

Podcasting

My other class is science journalism, and one of our assignments was to create a podcast in conjunction with the feature story we had to write. I have a friend who has a child with autism, so she’s my human interest. I also interviewed a geneticist here at the U about his research into the genetic causes of autism. He was very personable and explained things really well in everyday language.

I recorded the interview on a digital voice recorder, but if I had an iPod, I guess I could have used that. The instructor told us to check out a Marantz (sp?) recorder from the mass comm. IT dept, but I just my Olympus DVR. I figured if I had to go back to get more info from him then I might bring the other recorder. But I didn’t need to, and I think it turned out okay anyway (except for maybe when he was drawing on the white board to explain microdeletions and microduplications. Then it sounds kind of far away).

We talked for a little over an hour, so I had a lot of audio to get through and figure out what quotes to use. Almost too much. That was probably the hardest part of it—trying to construct a story out of bits and pieces when I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to say. I had so much information I could have done either a much longer piece or one with a completely different focus. Once I found my quotes, then I had to figure out how to link them together with my bridges of audio and keep a good pacing of long and short clips. To keep track of my quotes, I put the ones I thought I would most likely use on 3x5 cards along with their time on the recording.

Our instructor uses Audacity in her work as a freelance science journalist, so that is what she had us use. And it was kind of fun. It’s really cool to take a long bit of audio and start chopping out umms, and yeahs, and breathing, and spit noises, and stuttering, and pen clicking, and all sorts of stuff that you just don’t notice in everyday conversation (except of course for the ever present “umm,? “you know,? and “like?).

This is not a quick process. It took me about 3 days worth of time to get a 6 minute podcast done and then convert it to an .mp3, but I’m sure if I ever need to do another one, it won’t take me as long.

Lessons learned:
• I have a really hard time saying chromosomes clearly.
• Thank goodness for how-to-work-in-Audacity handouts…which I would be willing to share if anyone wants to see it.
• It’s not a quick process, so I’m glad our instructor told us not to procrastinate.
• You can really clean up someone’s speech and whatnot with the delete button and by rearranging stuff.
• It’s fun and worth doing at least once so you know how to do it….especially in the world of Web 2.0.

This week's readings

I really liked the Wired article…great writing. Bob Garfield seems to be brutally honest in his opinions and has an interesting way of looking at things (e.g., “Google…just paid $1.65 billion in stock to be the cute little kitty-cat’s home.?). And his description of the old commercial broadcasting model as “a spiraling vortex of ruin? is fantastic.

But what I think is most interesting is the idea that YouTube is going to become the next boob tube. Unless you are one of the people out there creating content, you are just a passive user of it, just like TV watching. Yeah, you may choose to watch an on-demand program, but you are still just watching, not actively producing content.

I haven’t been to YouTube yet (that podcast project is to blame) so I don’t know if they have figured out a way to get advertising in yet, but I’ll be checking that out tomorrow.

Also, in the May issue of Scientific American, there is an article called Science 2.0 that sort of relates to what Weinberger is talking about regarding knowledge starting on page 216 of Everything is Miscellaneous. One of the key concepts of the article says, “Science 2.0 generally refers to new practices of scientists who post raw experimental results, nascent theories, claims of discoveries and draft papers on the web for others to see and comment on? (May 2008, Vol. 298, No. 5, pg 69).

I mostly skimmed the article, but I thought it was odd that it doesn’t mention arXiv, which is a place for researchers to post their unpublished papers (Everything is Miscellaneous, 216-219), but it does mention the PLoS On-line Edition (www.plosone.org) as a source for sharing knowledge. One person quoted says, “scientists should find a transition to Web 2.0 perfectly natural. After all, since the time of Galileo and Newton, scientists have built up their knowledge about the world by ‘crowdsourcing’ the contributions of many researchers and then refining that knowledge through open debate? (70).

While skeptical scientists worried that ideas, and therefore future earnings and prestige, may be stolen or vandalized, the article does mention and advocate everything we’ve been discussing in class this semester…open access, collaboration, wikis, and being more productive.

Anyone Know a Good HTML Book?

Ok, so there is nothing like having to fix some stuff you did wrong AND blog about readings in three days...WHEW! Anyway, I honestly didn't think about copyright on the Flickr pics. Why??? Because I lost track of what I was doing. I also got so excited that I wasn't thinking clearly (I think I like designing and want to learn more), plus I had no idea what the hell I was doing. I would love to have a "HTML For Dummies" book, anyone have a good handle on a good book on that subject? I sure would appreciate that.

Ok, enough on that. The readings...hmmm. They were so interesting. Even though I know being a little (a lot) jealous of these people who just know what to do to make money off the internet is not the gist of these readings, I find those stories to be an exact illustration of what is possible. When I saw the YouTube selections on the readings, I laughed my butt off. The motivational speaker was awesome! By watching him I have come to realize all you really need is a gimmick...but a good one. Not some fly-by-night idea, but something that someone needs. As for the advertising aspect...wow. What a concept.

I do not, however, think TV is a thing of the past. I love to be able to come home, not turn on my computer, just sit and watch a couple of comedies that make me feel good. TV on the internet? It just seems like if you worked from home you would want to have just ONE room for work. The rest of the house really needs to be for HOME.

All in all, I am having the best time playing around in here. It all really does seem to be coming together. I am still confused as to how this will all look in the end, but the confusion is clearing alot.

A four page article that took four hours to read?

Must be about YouTube.

I love YouTube. There is just no getting around it. The site is one hundred percent addicting and fabulous. Case in point: to read “YouTube vs. Boob Tube? took me hours of time…I had to engage in research, of course!

I’m not a YouTube expert. Most of the popular videos listed in the article, like the lonelygirl15 vlog and the evolution of dance, are still new to me. That is part of what makes YouTube so fun, though – and easy to waste hours of time in free entertainment land. There are millions of choices to view, some hilarious, some horrible. There are educational videos, vlogs, clips of funny TV shows from forever ago. I love that when you remember something and want to see it again…it is there:

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=c6j8EiWIVZs

But, is YouTube commercial? One of the best things about it is that there are no commercials…who would want to view a 2 minute clip with a 30 second commercial lead in or out? I think it would ruin part of the experience. So much of why youtube is addicting is that ‘frenzied’ linking to video after video – stopping that stream of thought and entertainment would certainly dampen the experience.

How does google plan to recoup its 1.65 billion? Even after reading the article I’m not sure. But, if someone can make it happen, certainly google has the best odds.

YouTube has grown into so much more than just a flickr look alike (YouTube vs. BoobTube, 2). Flickr hasn’t revolutionized entertainment. Using YouTube simply as an application for sharing video might be its bread and butter, but there is a whole different aura about it. As Bob Garfield describes, there is a “water-cooler? factor to YouTube that is completely new to internet entertainment (YouTube vs. BoobTube, 4). It is riveting entertainment. Part of that quality comes from the fact that it is a free for all – there is the good, the bad, and the ugly – but also from the fact that you can jump to whatever you want to view, and to embed it so easily, without all the annoying commercials of television. It doesn’t seem right that we would have to view more than a banner add attached to our videos of silly babies or funny pet tricks.

What is the future of YouTube? I can’t predict, but I can hope that I don’t look back on the “good old days? as I do to napster. Even that is it’s own story, however, because the content wasn’t user-generated. Finally, if nothing else, YouTube is useful as purely a video sharing platform – I’m now able to upload videos of my kids to send to grandma or family far away. It isn’t exciting entertainment for anyone but us, but 4 years ago I wasn’t able to do this with my older daughter…it’s like the transition from writing a letter describing a child to sending a photo.

They definitely aren’t too exciting, but in the interest of “getting to know you,? here, for your viewing pleasure, are my new baby and crazy cat:

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=j90xWkWcxrc

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=et7-wjKq-1U

And finally, my favorite discovery during the reading:
http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=pv5zWaTEVkI
33 million people may have seen it, but somehow I wasn’t one of them until now…my life feels more complete.

April 30, 2008

The New Age of Television

YouTube has become quite the phenomenon and why shouldn't it...anyone that wants to be a star can and YouTube provides the audience to make it happen. Whatever your interest may be you can make a video and have an opportunity for the world to see. I remember this couple that had posted their wedding dance to YouTube. They had such a growing popularity that they were invited to be guests on the Today Show. The fact is that these online videos can be produced without huge production and promotional budgets. Literally anyone can post a video. Michael Wesch's YouTube explanation of the power of Web 2.0 technologies has been watched more than 2.8 million times around the world. "My video created great connections for myself and the university," said Wesch. "More specifically its success resulted in extensive nationsal and international media coverage, donations to KSU anthropology department, as well as broad and intense interest in the program from students and faculty around the nation and the world" (Lights, Camera, Action).

Many may wonder if this is a fad that will pass. "An August 2006 report by In-Stat, a technology research firm, indicates otherwise. The report predicts the number of households watching online videos worldwide will grow from 13 million in 2005 to 131 million in 2010" (Lights, Camera, Action). This creation is also changing the way of advertising. YouTube is a medium in which you can reach a vast amount of people with a form of television online. It can target content that is relevent to it's product. Until now, advertisers have underwritten mass media to reach mass audiences, but since the network TV audiences have shrunk, they are realizing the opportunity the Internet offers.

The problems facing YouTube are like many other internet sites is that of protecting the works of others. "YouTube had until recently been at a loss to manage the situation, relying on safe-harbor provisions of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act to insulate itself from liability. Until it actually installs a newly developed copyright infringement sniffer, the best it can do is take down individual clips in response to a rights holders complaint" So what about "Evolution of Dance," for instance? To put together this medley, did Laipply license 30 songs? "Don't know," replies YouTube senior marketing director Julie Supan. "You'd have to ask Judson." In the next breath, though, she suggests that the brief music excerpts fall within the bounds of fair use. (YouTube vs. Boob Tube).

In conclusion, YouTube has allowed people to share their creative expressions with the entire world. It is in no doubt here to stay. With it projected to have 131 million households view it by 2010 and for Google to acquire it is no small deal. YouTube is in a way the new age of television.