In Defense of Amateurs… and Youtube

 

At first, I was unsure of what my first blog post would be about. Perhaps something about Google’s controversial new privacy settings, or the EU’s venture into solving its own volatile economy, or maybe Taco Bell’s laughable yet well researched breakfast menu experiment.

All good candidates.

However, after listening to the required Gregory Mantell You tube video, I would like to personally thank Andrew Keen for inspiring what is hopefully not “adolescents farting on video and finding that amusing.”

Seriously? Drawing attention to the dredge of You Tube society is how you open a dialogue of amateurs vs. professionals? Hopefully the upper crust knows that You tube is more than a 30 minute Tosh.O segment, but if not, allow me to share some of the ways I use You Tube:

  • For music videos/ concert footage
  • For firsthand civilian accounts during crises, like the earthquake in Haiti and the London riots
  • For instructional videos. Ex: the Yoga I can’t afford, the statistics explanations I wouldn’t passed without, the new Gmail icons I don’t understand, plus everything to do with Photoshop, oh and Spanish pronunciations (you don’t want to know how I’d do in Mexico. Hint: not well)

Now, perhaps the reason You Tube is targeted as an example of the “kids” being in charge is that’s it’s easy to do. You Tube is free and without gatekeepers, so everything that Andrew Keen is saying is true, but I hate to think that this medium is “the convicts running the asylum” (Insert eye roll here). Accepting that extreme metaphor means that you degrade any content that comes from You Tube as being less or not as good for human society simply because it comes from You Tube.

If you want to run with that logic, than you can also say that the Gutenberg Printing Press is another example of the “convicts running the asylum.” The Gutenberg Printing Press revolutionized printing so that it wasn’t as expensive to print and more people could afford books. Some of the publishing “gatekeepers” were eliminated, and as a result, books changed. Books were no longer a privilege just for the rich, and more types of books could be published. Books could be about leisure or politics or any other topic publishers thought people would buy. People could write responses to books, and so books began to start a dialogue more representative of society than they were before.

Think of books today. Anyone can write. I’m writing right now. I have the technology where, if I choose to, I can write a book. I can then take this book to a publisher, or I can post it online, or I make it available for free download for Kindles or other E-readers. Now my book may not be Shakespeare, but I have a way to write down my thoughts and feelings and then make it available for others to read, if they chose to. According to Keen, this is bad because without gatekeepers there is “anarchy.” Now, I’ll admit that without gatekeepers, there are more books for me to wade through. Some of them are trashy, simple, or not to my liking. There are enough cliched mystery novels to fill up a million Law and Order episodes, but they still don’t detract from the awesomeness of Agatha Christie. Want someone newer? How about Steig Larsson, a reporter; Margaret Edson, a kindergarten teacher; Suzanne Collins, a television writer; or JK Rowling, an English teacher? These famous authors may not have gotten their works published if there had been a few more Keen’s “gatekeepers.”

I understand that there is a difference between some gatekeepers and none, but people like Keen must see the positive in what You tube has to bring. All of the aforementioned professional authors were amateurs in their first works, and for the most part, their first works were pretty spectacular. You tube has value in wading through the trash, regardless of who posts it.

And Andrew Keen? Sir, I consider myself media literate, and honestly the weight of the information I consume depresses me to no end. So when I find myself disgusted with the world and everyone in it, I watch something like this:

It’s a crow sledding for fun, and it’s life affirming. If a crow can enjoy life in Russia, surely the world’s OK after all.

Thanks You tube! Obviously Andrew Keen has not seen the crow sledding, otherwise he would find the function in amateurs too.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “In Defense of Amateurs… and Youtube

  1. Ning Huang

    I could tell the appreciative feeling of Youtube, which provides a great opportunity for amateurs to publish their work online. In China, there is also a video-shared website named YouKu, but it is strictly censored by the goverment. However, from the limited source on that website, I find so many interesting and amazing product from the public, the power of the normal people is so great!

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