YouTube and our Participatory Culture

Participatory culture is loosely defined as one where consumers and the general public can actively participate and circulate content they generate. Prior to reading Burgess and Green’s chapter on How YouTube matters, I hadn’t really given much thought to how important this is in 2010. We all participate online and contribute in one way or another in shaping the online fabric.

YouTube gives us the platform to freely express ourselves in front of a global audience for free. There is currently no other site like it that gives us access to so many people. Sure, Facebook does, but it’s a closed network. On Facebook people have to “friend” you before they can see your profile and interact with it. On YouTube though, one can haphazardly stumble upon your video, get forwarded a link to it or even view the embedded video on another site altogether. Challenges of video distribution and having a platform or medium to house people’s videos are no longer prevalent with this model. And it’s clear that this model is here to stay. I’ll call this the self publish model.

Tension built up however with YouTube early on with the big alphabet channels (ABC, NBC, CBS etc.). They didn’t have control with this new sort of distribution model. They were no longer getting paid from advertisers. They were Goliath and YouTube was David. That’s how it was with the big companies, but the relationship with the everyday person with a video camera and the YouTube consumer was a match made in heaven. Chad Vader? David after Dentist? Chocolate Rain? The list goes on. These are some of the most viewed videos and they’re made by people like you and I. I love YouTube.

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