Q&A #2 with Henry Jenkins (February 20, 2008)
NOTES: Origins and Context | See Also
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Origins of this content
This is the second of a three-part 2008 blog-interview that was first published on Confessions of an Aca-Fan. Henry Jenkins had been following my blogging and speaking about teaching LFYT (we had debated its radical potential at the 24/7 conference at USC), so I asked him if we could engage in an interview as I was attempting to write (and network) concise, systematic lessons from the output and experiences of LFYT 2007, and he generously took me on. This was another attempt to organize and present the otherwise large and unruly body of student videos made for my class.
"Henry Jenkins is the Provost's Professor of Communication, Journalism, and Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California ... He is the author and/or editor of twelve books on various aspects of media and popular culture."[cit]

Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) "is a problem with inattentiveness, over-activity, impulsivity, or a combination."[cit]

"Boredom is linked to both emotional factors and personality traits. Problems with attention also play a role, and thus techniques that improve a person's ability to focus may diminish boredom."[cit]

A video going viral, a phenomenon allowed by web 2.0, has been of equal fascination to scholars like the Convergence Culture Consortium at MIT, marketers, and users alike.

In "What Makes Mainstream Media Mainstream," Noam Chomsky writes: "The elite media set a framework within which others operate ... That framework works pretty well, and it is understandable that it is just a reflection of obvious power structures."[cit]
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More videos related to the content of this page
(Published first on Confessions of an Aca-Fan)

HJ: Your course drew the interest of the mass media. In what way did this media coverage distort or simplify your goals as a teacher? What advice might you offer to other educators who found themselves caught up in a similar media storm?

AJ: The mainstream media attention served as a huge distraction and energy-drain for the course, while also being highly informative about one of the main functionalities of YouTube: popularity/celebrity.

I must admit, it was downright baffling to me how my students initially could not seem to see the systems of popularity or celebrity as constructed, as made to keep them distracted. No matter how I approached it, they would only understand the concept "you do something to get more hits, to be more seen," as innately and inherently true, the reason to be on YouTube, the reason of YouTube. When our pretty massive visibility led to prying cameras that took up a lot of classroom space and time but never bothered to see or understand our project with any depth, and a media culture that ridiculed us without interviewing us, the idea of celebrity as an unquestionable good in itself was easily cracked open for the students. I must also add here that we were handled with much more sophistication in the blogosphere.

As for advice: I learned I'm glad I am a professor and not a pundit because I do best when I can talk in length, in context, and in conversation. While I've been critiquing YouTube for its inadequacies in these respects, mainstream television and radio pale in comparison, and remind us about how YouTube really does differ from these corporate models. Outside innate skill, hiring a handler, or wasting all your time memorizing and practicing blurbs, I am not certain how a garden-variety professor could make mainstream media attention really work for her.