YouTube was created in 2005 by co-founder Chad Hurley (Jawed Karim and Steve Chang) and was sold to Internet giant Google in late 2006 for $1.65 billion (MoreViews Inc., 2012). The creation of this platform allowed the upload and sharing of user-based content, blurring the lines of the relationship between the creators of online media, and it’s audiences. Burgess et al (2009) discusses the importance of YouTube in relation to media production and consumption in the book YouTube: Online Video and Participatory Culture. The authors explore the idea of YouTube as a platform and the participation of the community in a common space.
“YouTube intervenes in a much larger history of participatory culture, offering new mechanisms for promotion and circulation of amateur media. YouTube emerged from the utopian fantasies of early cyber-advocates and from the decisions made by a range of different subcultural communities and interest groups to seek a shared rather than localised platform for distributing their content” (Burgess et al., 2009)
What this means is that YouTube is not only a technology designed to allow it’s audience to participate, collaborate and generate, it is also a domain for the average citizen, ruled by the production of unprofessional content, and consumed by the same people who created it. This adaptation would not have been possible without the concept of convergence, and has opened up a mass amount of possibilities in relation to the public sphere, including the possibility to distribute news, and quickly.
The introduction of this further developed the idea of citizen journalism, which is widely used today by major news corporations, to allow the general public to participate in what was once considered a professional occupation (Mashable, 2013). Amateurs took to YouTube to share their live news coverage, enabling users to create a participatory culture outside of the control of the mass media giants, who once regulated the gateway that determined the flow of information being released into the public domain.
“What differentiates YouTube from the standard social networking site is that it went further by enabling and documenting the creation of an online community in a way that is both visual and interactive. The YouTube logo says it all: broadcast yourself” (Rassi, 2007)
Just as new and developing media platforms continue to rise from the internet, the old ones are coming up with fresh and creative ways to update their appeal to the public. In 2014, YouTube offered its own live-stream coverage of the State of the Union address, allowing viewers to listen to the President at their computers or through their mobile phones instead of the television.
“Not only did this give lots of Net users an attractive additional option for watching, it also allowed YouTube to offer a unique live service, something that could become a more common habit for future live events.” (Demers, 2014)
Constantly adapting to its users changing preferences, YouTube has become the ultimate interactive technology. From online comics, books, video and music playlists, skits, vines, vlogs, marketing tools, political broadcasts and opinions, it’s never been easier to connect with other people, and become apart of the customisable domain you as a consumer (and producer) have helped create.
This is just one of the ways that a media platform shapes our lives, anything is accessible in an instant, and you get a front row seat right when it happens.
Burgess, J. and Green, J 2009, Online video and participatory culture, 1st ed. Oxford: Polity Press.
Demers, J 2014, Op-Ed: Politics, books and marketing: YouTube still changing the world, Digitaljournal.com, viewed 6 April 2016, <http://digitaljournal.com/tech/technology/op-ed-politics-books-and-marketing-youtube-still-changing-the-world/article/368347>
Mashable 2013, Citizen Journalism, viewed 6 April 2016, <http://mashable.com/category/citizen-journalism/>
Rassi, T 2007, YouTube: Examining a Revolution, gnovisjournal, 8(1), p.12.