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YouTube, digital literacy and the growth of knowledge

Hartley, John 2008. YouTube, digital literacy and the growth of knowledge. Presented at: Media, Communications and Humanity: 5th Anniversary Conference, London School of Economics & Political Science, 21-23 September 2008.

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Social-network enterprises and all manner of user-created content from blogs to Wikipedia, are examples of self-expression within a community that is in principle species-wide. As broadband speed and bandwidth increase to acceptable levels for video, television is renewing itself in the context of these services, which are individual, interactive and international. The first popular internet television venture has been YouTube, whose slogan ‘Broadcast yourself’ neatly captures the difference between old-style TV and new. YouTube massively scales up both the number of people publishing TV ‘content’ and the number of videos available to be watched. However, few of the videos are ‘stories’ as traditionally understood; and the best of those that are, for instance lonleygirl15, pretend to be something else in order to conform to the conventions of dialogic social networks. In other words, YouTube does not exhaust the possibilities either for digital storytelling or for self-expression television. Indeed its ‘uses’ may be rather restricted at least for the moment. However it does offer some pointers to the possibilities that internet-based social networks may offer as they become more ubiquitous, populated, and cheap. YouTube and other social network enterprises, both commercial and community-based, give us something to think with; a way of imagining what a ‘bottom-up’ model of a storytelling system might look like in a technologically enabled culture.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Journalism, Media and Culture
Last Modified: 22 Oct 2016 03:05

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