Wired’s recent YouTube article, YouTube vs. Boob Tube, does a good job of summarizing the important bits of YouTube culture for those who may have missed it up until this point. It begins as any good discussion of YouTube, by rattling off a large array of videos which are simply to be seen so that you can understand the fundamental concepts underlying YouTube
It continues to assert more of YouTube’s grassroots, consumer-generated flair, slowly beginning to delve into broader sociological concepts (writer Bob Garfield decides to bestow upon YouTube the moniker “monkey vision,” which is a name so outrageously “pompous social magazine writer attempting to coin the next phrase” that it is sure to be forgotten soon.
But beyond that, it does address some key issues with YouTube, such as its future. How can, for instance, YouTube truly keep afloat when all it has is ad revenue and the majority of its hits go through embedded content, not directly off of the site where the ads are?
Regardless, Hollywood types are shaking in their boots, and for good reason. As YouTube takes off, not only do they lose their stranglehold on the media market—as the article points out just a few years ago completely dominated by Hollywood—they lose ad revenue, and to top it all off, many of the videos on YouTube actually infringe upon content that they are creating.
The article, in general, seems to depict a two-pronged future for media. It raises two important questions: can YouTube capitalize on its success, or will it turn out to be a “useless” humanitarian endeavor? The second question is, literally and oddly enough, “will we ever be rid of Regis Philbin?”
Regardless, the future of YouTube still looks promising. We are still in the midst of a consumer culture-driven wave, and as the technology gets cheaper and cheaper, there is no sign of end.
In Chapter 5 of Free Culture, Lawrence Lessig lays out anecdotes and archetypes of all manner of piracy. The duplication of copyrighted CDs and DVDs in foreign markets is touched upon, but one of the main salient points is his defense of Peer-to-Peer file sharing networks, the groundbreaking networks and servers which made Section 512 absolutely necessary and the rulings on which still protect YouTube from harm.
One of Lessig’s major talking points is his attribution of the four archetypal uses of P2P networking: stealing music, sampling music before buying, access to abandonware or other copyrighted content that is no longer available by traditional means, and those who search for content that has no copyright or a Creative Commons license and is meant to be shared.
This is a highly utopian view of both P2P networking and the internet, but at the very least interesting to consider. Lessig goes on to discuss drops in CD sales and later Jack Valenti’s ridiculous claims about VCRs as “tapeworms,” just waiting to drive the industry down. If anything, the VCR and file-sharing networks both paved the way for the kind of content generation and also server networks that my final project will use and draw attention to.