Sunday, March 18, 2007

YouTube ethnography project

I have followed with interest the videos that have appeared in YouTube in relation to Web2.0. The original one made by the Digital Ethnography group from Kansas State University gave a view on Web 2.0 in which learning technologists and other enthusiasts can recognise their current work.

Cory the Raven posted a counter video on YouTube that questions what this kind of medium has to offer in addition to traditional media such as text and film.

The video itself has a very interesting pace to it and I would say the number of comments, communications and discussions on YouTube at the moment, ranging from McLuhan to Welsh, show that the level of communication that has been made possible through the Internet has changed these two older media into something new. It has made that text and film have been transformed from one-to many media in broadcasting mode, into many-to-many media, where information and discussion encourage the creation of knowledge. This in my view makes a big difference. The information is discussed and reactions to the older media mean that new thoughts and ideas are created. The videos have already been viewed by more than a million people and hundreds of comments have been made.

I agree with Cory that it is becoming problematic that half the population is not taking part in the online discussions. It makes that the knowledge in networks is less reliable, as it might only paint a one-sided picture on a subject. As somebody who has worked hard over the past five years to engage people with technology it seems a waste that a vast number of people are excluded from valuable learning opportunities. It seems to me that the higher the rate of convergence of technologies, the faster the engagement of disengaged people will be: the easier and cheaper it will be to access technology on digital televison or mobile phone, the quicker people will be tempted to take part.

Cory seems overly concerned with the move from living in the real world to living in a virtual world. It reminds me of Lyotard's final book in which he was very concerned about the move humans are making towards the 'inhuman'. I would argue that most people who venture online are firmly grounded in the real world and that problems in the real world quite often make that people move online to find information and to discuss whatever makes them tick in reality.

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