<videovortex> MIT Press Launches Innovative Video-Book About YouTube

Alex Juhasz Alex_Juhasz at pitzer.edu
Tue Sep 20 03:59:29 CEST 2011

MIT Press Launches Innovative Video-Book About YouTube

(Cambridge, MA) YouTube, the largest video sharing site in the world,  
is viewed by more than two billion people per day, nearly double the  
prime time audience of all three major US broadcast networks combined.  
YouTube widely promotes that its technology enables the democratic  
production and distribution of media content on this huge scale.  So  
why is YouTube being used primarily to spoof mainstream media forms  
and what does this tell us about social media and our society?

The MIT Press, in partnership with the Alliance for Networking Visual  
Culture, has just published Learning from YouTube (MIT Press, February  
2011), by Alexandra Juhasz, Professor of Media Studies at Pitzer  
College in Claremont, California.  YouTube is the subject, form,  
method, problem, and solution of her video-book: an online inquiry  
into today’s media. This is not your typical scholarly book (Learning  
from YouTube can never go to paper) Juhasz writes about social media  
inside and through it.

This video-book contains a series of more than 200 texts and videos –  
“texteos” – that encourage users to think about YouTube by  
experiencing and learning within this digital entertainment platform.   
Whether in video or textual form, Juhasz writes in a relatively  
informal voice suitable to her subject and the online digital format  
of the project permits contributions from its users.

Some of the lessons that Juhasz uncovers in Learning from YouTube are:

	• YouTube’s architecture and ownership undermine the fundamentals of  
academic inquiry -- depth of dialogue, the ability to find 	and link  
data, the ability to sustain intimate and committed community, and  
structures of order and discipline.
	• YouTube is a good site for entertainment, a postmodern television  
tuned to the intimate needs of the individual user.
	• YouTube’s architecture and ownership rely upon popularity, humor,  
speed, shallowness, celebrity, and distraction.
	• YouTube’s standard fare is the funny and fast, ironic or sincere  
video that self- referentially refers to dominant media and 		 
corporate culture.
	• YouTube’s standard fare is also the simple expressed common  
knowledge, talents, or feelings of everyday people.
	• People use YouTube to waste time but also to meet people,  
communicate, share ideas and disseminate art.
	• YouTube uses its users to self-censor: what rises and falls  
reflects the best and worst of our society’s dominant ideas and 		 
values - usually the worst.
  “Media scholars must be able to work within and communicate in the  
media they study, which often takes them outside traditional print  
forms of scholarship,” said Ellen W. Faran, Director of the MIT  
Press.  “We believe that Alexandra Juhasz’s video-book is an important  
step forward in the exploration of new forms of credentialed  
university press scholarship.”  Learning from YouTube was selected by  
the Press for its publishing list after an extensive peer-review  
process adapted to include the video-book form.

Learning from YouTube originated as a course taught by Dr. Juhasz at  
Pitzer College beginning in 2007. All class assignments and homework  
for the course were created as videos and posted on YouTube and were  
open to the public. The course received a flurry of media attention  
and answered the question “What can YouTube teach us?”

The video-book was created in partnership with the Alliance for  
Networking Visual Culture with design by Craig Dietrich, and was  
funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.  As the pilot publishing  
project in that initiative, it is openly available online at:
About Alexandra Juhasz

Dr. Alexandra Juhasz is Professor of Media Studies at Pitzer College.  
She makes and studies committed media practices that contribute to  
political change and individual and community growth. She is the  
author of AIDS TV: Identity, Community and Alternative Video (Duke  
University Press, 1995), Women of Vision: Histories in Feminist Film  
and Video (University of Minnesota Press, 2001), F Is for Phony: Fake  
Documentary and Truth’s Undoing, coedited with Jesse Lerner  
(Minnesota, 2005), and Media Praxis: A Radical Web-Site Integrating  
Theory, Practice and Politics, www.mediapraxis.org. She has published  
extensively on documentary film and video. Dr. Juhasz is also the  
producer of educational videotapes on feminist issues including AIDS  
and teen pregnancy. She recently completed the feature documentaries  
SCALE: Measuring Might in the Media Age (2008), Video Remains (2005),  
and Dear Gabe (2003) as well as Women of Vision: 18 Histories in  
Feminist Film and Video (1998) and the shorts, RELEASED: 5 Short  
Videos about Women and Film (2000) and Naming Prairie (2001), a  
Sundance Film Festival, 2002, official selection. She is the producer  
of the feature films The Watermelon Woman (Cheryl Dunye, 1997) and The  
Owls (Dunye, 2010).

About The Alliance for Networking Visual Culture

The Alliance for Networking Visual Culture is an Andrew W. Mellon- 
funded initiative supporting the development of common tools and a  
digital platform for multimedia scholarship.

About the MIT Press:
One of the most respected university presses in the world, the MIT  
Press is known for quality, innovation, and distinctive design.  It  
publishes, in print and electronic form, about 200 new books a year  
and more than 30 journals.  The Press publishes in selected diverse  
fields including art and architecture; cognitive science; computer  
science; economics; neuroscience; and new media.  It is noted for its  
commitment to emerging fields of scholarship, its international  
outreach, and for its pioneering of digital projects.

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