Jenkins’ nine big ideas regarding YouTube (plus one more)

I’ve been a fan of Henry Jenkins’ writing and media analysis ever since I read Textual Poachers in graduate school. Last year I read his book, Convergence Culture, back to back with Yochai Benkler’s The Wealth of Networks and together they present a must-read pair for anyone wanting to better understand media change. A couple of days ago Henry posted in his a blog a post titled, “Nine Propositions Towards a Cultural Theory of YouTube” where he presents nine big ideas about the role of YouTube in our contemporary cultural landscape.

His big ideas are in summary:

1. a hybrid media space (as described in Benkler’s Wealth of Networks)

2. meeting point between a range of different grassroots communities involved in the production and circulation of media content

3. a site where amateur curators assess the value of commercial content and re-present it for various niche communites

4. value depends heavily upon its deployment via other social networking sites

5. operates (alongside Flickr) as an important site for citizen journalists

6. opportunity for translating participatory culture into civic engagement

7. helps us to see the shifts in the cultural economy

8. social networking emerges as an important social skills and cultural competencies

9. demonstrates that a participatory culture is not necessarily a diverse culture

Check out his post, his elaboration of each of these is interesting and reminds me just how much things have changed since I first saw YouTube in 2005 when it was a scrappy little video sharing site. And this speed of change, in addition to the speed with which we can share videos and post video or text responses, makes me think maybe there’s a tenth big idea that should be added to the list:

10. YouTube embodies the salient characteristics of McLuhan’s “global village”

the idea roughly that given the speed of digital (electronic in McLuhan’s words) communication (and post-internet we add to this the ease of building social relationships) our culture will begin to converge, and we will evolve into a way of life that has much in common with village life, and thus the term “global village” now I don’t think it’s all that simple, but it comes to mind. This relates, of course, to #9, as these tools work to homogenize culture. Interesting how it’s not just the broadcast topology that leads to homogenized culture.

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