YOUTUBE FORECLOSES COMMUNITY
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 capable of going 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.
Contextualization
Community on the Internet has been a focus for academic study. "Research into Internet communities and online behavior constituted one of the earliest and most dynamic fields of interest in the new field of Internet studies ... including understanding how social order was possible in mediated environments, the social and political dimensions of community, the impacts that online communities could have on their offline counterparts."[cit] Users have been drawn to YouTube, and other web 2.0 platforms in the name of community. According to Howard Rheingold: "Virtual communities are social aggregations that emerge from the Net when enough people carry on those public discussions long enough, with sufficient human feeling, to form webs of personal relationships in cyberspace."[cit]

Dr. Strangelove reports in his blog that: "In terms of hard numbers and slanted lines, nothing is more graphic than Google's increasing dominance of video, where YouTube's traffic has nearly doubled in just three years to about 80 percent of the market—while all of its competitors now languish in the single digits."[cit]

What to do when you're bored
: "You've checked your e-mails, updated your website, shopped online, used instant messengers. Now what? Do you sit blank after you've completed your daily internet tasks and have time to spare? Are you getting bored? Then here are some fun tasks you can do to kill those extra hours or minutes ;)"[cit]

One of my three founding calls for this project is working collaboratively: benefiting from the diversity of our approaches, training, experience, and positions leads to the best media praxis. We need to be brave enough to teach each other and work past specialization, in the variety of languages in which we are comfortable and trained.
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More videos related to the content of this page
(This article was first published at IJLM and Cinema Journal.)

In the name of opening channels of communication, YouTube forecloses community. The world's largest archive of moving images is, and will stay, a mess. A searching eye creates the greatest revenue. But even transparent architecture has a form.

YouTube draws users in by fueling a desire for self-expression and community. While many come to the site to be seen and heard by others (to make friends), they are much better served by the real world or MySpace. For, the very tools and structures for community-building that are hallmarks of Web 2.0—those that link, gather, index, search, version, allow participation, commenting, and networking—are studiously refused on the site, even as YouTube remains its poster child.

Why can't you comment in real time? Why aren't there bulletin boards? Why won't the site allow you to post other content next to your video? YouTube doesn't answer, so people go elsewhere for these (rudimentary) functions, dragging their favorite YouTube videos with them to more hospitable climes (with YouTube's permission: goodbye and good riddance, we don't need your photos or friends here!). YouTube is a place to upload and store (and embed to elsewhere) videos.

The very paucity of secondary functions underlines its primary purpose: moving its users' eyeballs aimlessly and without direction, scheme, or map across its unparalleled archive of moving images and associated advertisements.

Why is YouTube such a mess? Google owns it, and they categorize and find things for a living. Meanwhile on YouTube, videos are hard to find, easy to misname, and quick to lose. While its millions of users would be well attended by a good archivist or two, in its calculated failings YouTube signals that it is not a place to hunker down or hang out with others, not a place within which to seriously research or study, not a place for anything but wasting time on your own. Even the most moving of videos needs to be connected to something (other than another short video)—people, community, ideas, other videos to which it has a predictably coherent link—if it is to create what community does best: action over distraction, knowledge instead of free-floating ideas, connection over the quick link.