Q1. Based on the unit so far, and the readings for this week, are you able to define what you think is meant by the term ‘participatory culture’? What do you think are the most important elements that enable such a culture, and how are these elements supported by a platform such as YouTube?
For me, YouTube is the ultimate participatory culture vehicle, as Jenkins’s suggests in his MIT video. It is the place to go to “create, to share, to express [myself] through every possible media channel” (What is Participatory Culture?, n.d.), allowing me to also connect with other users via comments and links to other websites. These are the most important aspects because this is what enables me to take part in the YouTube community. The website is full of a mix of amateur and professional works by people from all walks of life (Burgess & Green 2009 p 90), which is another attractive feature. I rather like the fact that I can contribute to this community with my own works.
Another way in which I can participate in this culture is through my blog which I started writing when I first started my uni studies. Basically I post weekly discussions, but also reflections about how I am finding the course, my lack of sleep and to share my panic at impending assessments. I can upload written posts or video or photos or links to other blogs that I find interesting or funny. I get some nice comments and some weird comments, but it’s all entertaining and part of the experience of this culture.
Q2. The YouTube slogan ‘Broadcast Yourself’ is emblematic of both ‘participatory culture’ and ‘web 2.0’:
Are these two concepts separable? Do the tools drive the culture, or does a cultural need drive the construction of the tools?
While it is very easy to use O’Reilly’s (2005) buzz word ‘web 2.0’ to describe what participatory culture could be, such as collaboration of both user participation and the tools they use to evolve the web, such as open source software (Firefox), Jenkins (2010) explains that Web 2.0 is just a “business model”. The author goes on to elucidate that commercialising this concept has widen the relationship between consumers and the owners of web 2.0 websites such as Facebook or YouTube. One major complaint is the fact that consumers/producers often relinquish control over their content due to TOS changes. Jenkins (2010) also adds that web 2.0 tools reduce contributors into customers.
This sounds like a bleak outcome to me, even though, Jenkins is referring to the educational aspects of web 2.0, I still think YouTube is quite a website where you can find almost anything of interest and if you find anything that is offensive, you need only to keep searching until you find what you are looking for. I believe that we should have the agency to make our decisions regarding uploading content to YouTube, in other words, you should always read the fine print and know the rules and regulations. While there’s a chance of people wanting to “broadcast” themselves, there will always be someone who is willing to meet the demand and supply the tools for people to do that.
Q3. What exactly is being created and what sorts of creativity do you see at work on YouTube? Why do you think they matter?
Having watched An anthropological introduction to YouTube (2008) by Wesch really brings home what type of creativity we are seeing uploaded to YouTube. At the time of his discourse, 88% of content was new and original, with around 200, 000 3 minute videos about anything and everything. What seems important is that most of these are addressing the lack of community users feel, by building and nurturing an online community with other YouTube users. Creativity, I think is paramount because everyone who uploads videos is seeking to express their “individualism… independence… and commercialisation” (Wesch, 2008) is so many different ways and styles, it makes sense users will want to stand out from the deluge.
From cat videos to make up tutorials to people’s rendition to favourite songs, YouTube has everything one could ever hope to find. Recently, my daughter saw Disney’s Frozen at the cinemas and has been glued to YouTube, watching whatever clips she can find of her favourite characters. Have I mentioned that she is three years old? YouTube is that ease to navigate that a toddler can search and find content that feeds her obsession. Users have gotten creative in uploading content that belongs to Disney (we all know they are walking a fine line here with copyright), for example, some clips are compilations of ads of the movie that have the soundtrack added to it, while others have other people singing the soundtrack to one still image of the protagonist.
Another type of creativity, for me is when I find something so good I have to share it friends; generally these videos are not just creative, but funny and inspiring. My all time favourite is this video.
An anthropological introduction to YouTube. (2008). Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TPAO-lZ4_hU&feature=youtube_gdata_player
Jenkins, H. (2010, May 24). Why Participatory Culture Is Not Web 2.0: Some Basic Distinctions. Confessions of an aca-fan/The official weblog of Henry Jenkins. Retrieved February 2, 2014, from http://henryjenkins.org/2010/05/why_participatory_culture_is_n.html
O’Reilly, T. (2005, September 30). What Is Web 2.0 – O’Reilly Media. Retrieved November 2, 2013, from http://oreilly.com/web2/archive/what-is-web-20.html
What is Participatory Culture? (n.d.). Retrieved from http://video.mit.edu/watch/what-is-participatory-culture-3027/