Friday, March 26, 2010

Why YouTube Can Be Better Than Television.

To be honest, I don't watch tv too often anymore--with the exception of my DVDs. Instead, most of the things that I watch aren't through the tv anymore but rather through my computer screen. In other words, I avidly watch YouTube. On YouTube, of course, one can watch videos of practically everything(although most copyrighted material often gets taken down eventually)much like the television. However, there is a huge difference between YouTube and one's television set.
Although Television sets have become more sophisticated over the years and can now allow one to record and tape what one wants to watch as well as fastfoward through commercials, there is still something that YouTube can do that the television can't--and that makes all the difference. Through television ,we become passive consumers. We simply stare at the TV--generally alone and while we may laugh or cry at a particular program--unless we're watching it with others, no one will never know how we truely feel about it.

On the other hand, through the internet--especially through YouTube, we become prosumers. Besides consuming what we watch, we produce as well. Basically, on YouTube, not only can one watch a video, one can respond to it as well. For example, if I were to watch a video of a cute kitten on YouTube--or basically any website which would permit me to respond to the video--I would comment upon it "Cute kitten." Now--everyone who watches this video knows that I think the kitten is cute. Yet it goes further than simply commenting upon a video. One can respond to the commenter. They could basically agree--or disagree--or laugh at the commenter's comment--or get into a huge political arguement or flamewar that has absolutely nothing to do with the cute kitten.

In addition to being able to comment upon a video either to express how much one loves or hates it, there is something else that YouTube does that I find both fascinating and stupid--we can now rate each other's comments on YouTube. I find this fascinating because I often look back at a video that I had previously commented upon in order to see if I have been marked up or down. For example,one of my comments upon--yes a cute cat video was rated +8--in other words, 8 other users agreed with me or liked my comment. However, I also find it stupid because commenters can also be rated negatively. This makes complete sense if someone has posted a rude or degrading comment--yet it can be pointless at times when a perfectly innocent comment praising the video is marked down. It's happened to me sometimes--I'll have a perfectly normal comment--nothing rude marked down--then eventually I'll either find a few months later that it's either been marked up much higher--or that it's been marked as negative. I guess I find it a bit stupid because we are freely expressing our opinions--and those who don't like it are given the opportunity to do so. It's also rather stupid because most people watch the video to rate the video itself--not the commenters.
Apparently, this comment rating system on YouTube is an example of "Web 2.0"--the division between form and content. In YouTube's case, the form is the site's format itself--such as the text--the tiny box that commenters place their opinions into. The content consists of the thoughts that go inside that tiny box--the form. Thus form has an impact upon content and provides us with an endless circle of circulation and interaction.

Here is an example of prosumer activity on Youtube--countless commenters--rated positively, negatively, and neutrally(the rating remains at 0) with a video of--what else? A cute kitten.

In addition--here is an amusing--yet sadly true article listing the 8 most obnoxious internet commenters Ironically enough--this website itself is an example of people being prosumers because (if they have an account on this site) they are able to comment upon what they have read--or start a giant pointless flamewar with another poster.

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