NOTES: Origins and Context | See Also
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Origins of this content
This article was first published on paper by Cinema Journal and then was redesigned for publication on the Internet by IJLM, in part, because Cinema Journal was not yet technically prepared to move online except in the most rudimentary ways (posting the article as a pdf). The writing was developed in 2008 as I attempted to pen concise, systematic lessons from the output and experiences of LFYT 2007.
Video blogs (vblogs) add video to blogs: "A video blog is the new hot way for people to stick their personal lives on the internet! Not just simple words, static pictures, or grainy audio. They invite you to join them whereever they go; meet their friends, their family, go on vacation, fall in love, and all vicariously from the comfort of your home computer."[cit]

The distinction between amateurs and experts are said to be changing because of the Internet. The results of this increased access are debated: "Digital utopians have heralded the dawn of an era in which Web 2.0—distinguished by a new generation of participatory sites like and, which emphasize user-generated content, social networking and interactive sharing—ushers in the democratization of the world: more information, more perspectives, more opinions, more everything, and most of it without filters or fees. Yet as the Silicon Valley entrepreneur Andrew Keen points out in his provocative new book, The Cult of the Amateur, Web 2.0 has a dark side as well."[cit]

One of my ten founding terms for this project is form. We are always debating: Do you need radical form to convey revolutionary messages?
(A version of this article was first published at IJLM and Cinema Journal.)

YouTube reifies distinctions between professional (or corporate media) culture and that of amateurs (or citizens) even as it celebrates its signature form, the vblog, and the flattening of expertise.

There are two dominant forms of video on YouTube: the vblog, characterized by its poor quality and vox populi, and the corporate video, easily identifiable because it is all the vblog is not: with high-quality production values referring to corporate culture.

Regular people make bad video, using low-end technology, paying little attention to form or aesthetics while attending to the daily life, feelings, and thoughts of the individual. Bad form marks the hand of an amateur and the space of the mundane while propelling movement around the Net, for this is also the mark of user-generated veracity and authenticity. Bad videos are unedited and reliant on word or spectacle, and they accrue value through the suffering, talent, or humor of the individual.

Corporate media always look goods because it is made by professionals, is stolen from TV, or is remixed from the mainstream. These videos express ideas about the products of dominant culture, in the music-driven, quickly-edited, glossy, slogan-like vernacular of music videos, commercials, and comics. They consolidate ideas into icons; meaning is lost to feeling. While vblogs depend on the intimate communication of the spoken word, corporate videos are driven by strong images, sounds, and sentiments.

YouTube could be a radical development in media history because the video production of real people holds down half of the medium's vernacular. However, by reifying the distinctions between the amateur and the professional, the personal and the social, in both form and content, YouTube maintains (not democratizes) operating distinctions about who owns culture seriously. YouTube is thought of as a joke: a place for jokes, a place for regular people whose role and interests must also be a joke.