Participation and The Use of YouTube
After reading about participatory culture in the Burgess and Green reading, it is easy to see how this concept applies to YouTube. Actually, YouTube relies on participatory culture in order to function and stay profitable. Participatory culture is the concept that users create, publish, share content that they have made for everyone to see. YouTube is essentially the platform that a user can use in order to have their content shown around the world. Even though the Burgess and Green book was published in 2009, participatory culture is still important to YouTube.
One of the major changes that have occurred since this book was published is that big media corporations such as NBC, ABC, Viacom, etc. have begun posting content from their television programs on YouTube. It is discussed in the first chapter of the Burgess and Green that early on in YouTube’s rise to popularity that these big media corporations saw YouTube as a copyright infringement site. Now some of the largest YouTube channels are run by these corporations (TheEllenShow, The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon). With the popularity of these corporations run YouTube channels, participatory culture is diminished a bit. There are still many independent users and content creators on YouTube, but the large presence of these corporations takes away some of the audience who may only watch media corporation created content.
What also makes media corporation based content more appealing is it’s high production value. Most content posted by corporations on YouTube is made by professionals and usually more than one professional works on the content. This brings into play of the concept of “mass amateurism/professionalism” as discussed in Clay Shirky’s Chapter, Everyone is a Media Outlet. In this chapter Shirky argues that nobody needs to be a professional in order to produce, edit, create, and publish content. This concept is one that applies directly to YouTube and other social media sites. In professionalism, the creators usually spend a lot of their time learning how to become better at making content. This means that whatever they create has to be top quality or else they might lose credibility in their profession. This means that professionals have a lot to lose if they don’t plan or create accordingly to the standards in their profession. Before the internet, to have your own content be published for the world to see, you would have to be a professional in the field since media outlets were usually owned by a corporation or company. There was almost no place for an amateurs to shown their work to a wide audience. The internet changed how amateur made content could reach a large and global audience. The internet as well is not owned by one particular person or corporation, it is owned by the people. Without restrictions from ownership, anyone can now create and publish content that would reach people from all over the world. This is how mass amateurism achieved its rise in the world and in popular culture. YouTube allows anyone including those who don’t know much about video editing or producing to post videos they create. It allows anyone’s voice to be heard which before the internet wasn’t very much possible. Shirky is saying that the rise of mass amateurism will change how content is created and published.
There still is a place however for professional content on the internet, such as major news stories needing to still be covered by professional journalists, and on YouTube as well. An example would be if you were searching how to replace something on your car on YouTube, you would look for a video done by a mechanic or company that specializes in auto repair. You would not trust somebody whose videos usually don’t involve auto care (although it may not always be the case). People want professionals even in the rise of mass amateurism because credibility is still important. YouTube also allows amateurs the chance to hopefully become more professional whether in creating content and posting it or watching others people’s content to learn new skills. Participatory culture and mass amateurism/professionalism can work in sync with one another when it comes to YouTube to help not only the user and creator of content, but also those who consume the content to better theirs.
Overall the readings provided a good general insight to how YouTube created a platform that allows anyone access to creating, posting, and consuming user made content. The concepts that were discussed in these readings can be used easily in relation to YouTube. It will be interesting to see in this class how YouTube is analyzed and theorized by our class and other scholars studying it.