Tuesday, February 05, 2008

YouTube and Academia?

YouTube - Juhasz Final Video

I'm slightly frustrated by this video posted by a professor who utilized YouTube in her class to get her students to think about media critically. She's very honest about her frustrations and successes within the course. Here's an outline of the five points she makes in her video about why her experiment with YouTube in the classroom wasn't successful:

1. YouTube is a new media form surrounded by speed and efficiency. Doesn't allow extended dialogue which is what academics specialize in.

2. Humor and sincerity are important qualities of YouTube videos. Attempting to communicate something in a logical structured format isn't considered successful.

3. Popularity is a fundamental organizing strucutre for YouTube (corporate and people's viewing experience). Searching for this popularity leads to meritocracy. "There is a certain amount of talent that is needed to produce things that rise up and above the noise."

4. YouTube sells us the same type of commercials that other media sell us, but in a slicker mode. The corporate imperative causes this. YouTube is a "big TV." Policing organized around the most mediocre mainstream middling ideas of the culture, everything that falls to the outside is suspect and easy to remove.

5. There is a second world, niche micro communities, who produce radical culture and media outside the logic of YouTube and isn't well supported by YouTube's structure. It needs to find a new community that will support building an infrastructure for dealing with (I'm paraphrasing here)"asking the harder questions, saying the hard things that need to be said...and hold on to the terrain that is slipping away as corporate culture and mainstream culture take away our energy."

How do you feel about Juhasz's comments? I know that I haven't taught or participated in a class that used YouTube as it's main source of communication, but I will say personally, it is examples such as this that make me never want to teach within a university setting. Her 5th point really gets under my skin, which I interpret as "Academia needs its own ivory tower mode of discussion and YouTube isn't good for anything except videos of cats." Wow... what about media literacy projects like this, political activism and education like this, or smart d├ętournement like this, or citizen media like this.

Yes, there are lots of stupid things on YouTube and they don't develop a discussion and most users probably don't think critically about media but becoming a producer of media is the beginning of that (in my opinion...maybe I'm wrong). I think it's a fantastic entry way into a smarter, more critically minded, accessible dialogue about media production.

1 comment:

jafish said...

Hmmm...she does make SOME good points, but quickly diverges into confirmation bias. Youtube communicates visually, so if she expects the average person to listen to a long lecture by someone standing, hands in pockets, in a boring white room with desks, then maybe she needs to get some visual literacy (which she sounds dismissive of...) Also, why not look at Vimeo?