<videovortex> Michael Wesch Takes On YouTube

geert lovink geert at desk.nl
Sun Aug 3 18:51:10 CEST 2008

After Web 2.0, Michael Wesch Takes On YouTube

After telling us the story of Web 2.0’s evolution in the 5-minute The  
Machine is Us/Ing Us, Michael Wesch took his specialty in cultural  
anthropology and applied it to the full breadth of the YouTube  
community’s evolution for a July 23rd presentation at the Library of  



I wonder what others on this list make of this lecture. Is this the  
Jenkens effect? I am amazed, again, to see, how a scholar can  
replicate the existing YouTube myths so uncritically. Why this utter  
refusal to reflect on such a media/internet phenomena and reproduce  
the corporate propaganda of Google? Locked up in fan culture, what we  
get is a loop of existing information and statistics.

For instance, the breakthrough with YouTube was their built-in viewer  
inside the browser. Before YouTube this wasn't possible. You had to  
install and open a seperate application. And not, as Wesch suggested,  
the ease with which user can upload videos.

OK, there are references to Barry Wellmann, Robert Putman but  
cultural anthropology could offer so much more. I just finished James  
Elkens' Visual Studies and this one book offers so many great  
beginnings, methodologies and debates...

What the Wesch video leaves out is how professional its own video is  
made. This is very precisely edited lecture, given at the Library of  
Congress, quite the opposite of the propagated amateurism.

The part on participatory culture is strong, but then... I would call  
it responding (re:) cultures, a phenomena we also knew from the  
haydays of BBS, email lists, forums and then blogs. Now people  
respond to each other with video clips.

With our INC VideoVortex reader, due to be out next month, thanks to  
all your amazing contributions, we hope to show that there is YouTube/ 
online video scholarship with an anti self-evident, more critical and  
intellectual points of view--and more to come.

Ciao, Geert

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