MSVU Social Media Course Blog

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The apple fell and landed on a “big fat gay collab”

I am following http://mediatedcultures.net.ksudigg , a very interesting blog developed by a Kansas State University working group led by Dr. Michael Wesch. Their blog is “dedicated to exploring and extending the possibilities of digital ethnography.”
My first response post must be dedicated to their most recent blog post. The post features two videos – the first an old Apple advertisement about the Internet and what possibilities it would bring (at a time when very few were actually on the Internet).  The ad posed a question, “What would you do?” if you had the Internet, and many comments spilling all over YouTube were disgusting and hateful towards many groups.
Wesch continues his post speaking about the considerable amount of GLBT hatred on YouTube and other social sites. He ends his post with an inspiring video flying around YouTube at lightning speed. It is called The Big Fat Gay Collab! and it did make me emotional. For one, I love the song – Lily Allan rocks. And two, it’s just so true – real people being true to themselves and saying Fuck You to all the haters that are too small minded to think outside of their own lives. Personally, I think this is a brilliant video, and an opportunity to eff up the saying ‘if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all’. I assume the people who participated in this video feel that they have been burned enough times by people who also ignore the ‘nice rule’ that a backlash was necessary. And I can’t disagree.
This blog has many other great posts. I hope you all find it as interesting as I do. Stay tuned for what I expect to be more posts that push some boundaries. P.S. Prof. Wesch uses a lot of embedded YouTube videos in his blog. I like it.
Cheers,
Kim Bottomley
May 14, 2009

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June 19, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

It’s long, but a goodie!

Since there hasn’t been any new material posted to the blog I decided to try out the website Professor Wesch links his blog from. I found this amazing video of a presentation he gave at the Library of Congress last year. The interesting thing is Wesch decided not to use a PowerPoint but rather prepared over 40 minutes of video – mostly YouTube videos.

The title of his presentation was “An Anthropological Introduction to YouTube”. Wesch and his students study the culture of YouTube and together collaborated to build this incredible presentation. The video I’m referencing for this post is 55 minutes long, so I’ll spare you the summary and allow you watch it yourself. (Just a word of advice: don’t watch it in the library, you may LOL at any point and “apparently” that annoys people…just sayin…)

In a nut shell, the video tells a story about how YouTube gives people an outlet to create  “new forms of expression, new forms of community, and new forms of identity”. The video is captivating from beginning to end, and touched on some things that Kimberly and Ben talked about last class.

Wesch says there is a “cultural inversion” where people are increasing expression of individualism and simultaneously increasing their value of community. Humans are becoming increasingly independent while longing for stronger relationships and we see increased commercialization all around us but we long for authenticity. As Kimberley and Ben addressed the “argument of authenticity”, I thought about the many organizations we learn about who try to mimic authenticity, and fail horribly. The “wigging out”, “I killed my best friends” and lonelygirl15 vlog that created an explosion of drama all over YouTube are just some examples. It seems almost commonsense to me that a foggy YouTube campaign would fail, and I wonder why, after so many have proved it doesn’t work, organizations continue to try and fool their audience. Clearly all the YouTubers are much smarter than these organizations and will no doubt do their research.

But, back to authenticity, I wonder how authentic one can really be? What about the saying “put your best face forward”? Do we have more than one face, more than one self? How we define ourselves changes depending on who we are defining to and the desired outcome of that definition. Maybe I’m going a little too far, but Wesch makes a great argument for authenticity. He asks, “Can YouTube be authentic?” When everyone around the globe is uploading a video, ripping someone else’s and editing it to create a different product, aren’t those people actively producing content? If we are uploading videos of ourselves, aren’t we producing ourselves? Aren’t we toying with our identity?

I’ll take it one step further, how many times do you “un-tag” a picture of yourself on Facebook that someone else produced? Is that not editing your identity? People get an understanding of who you are by studying your profile, looking at your picture, reading your interests, and watching your videos. By editing or deleting a picture are you not censoring your identity? Which is the real you?

It is important for us, as individual users of these social tools, to recognize this struggle and tug-of-war we have with authenticity. Without understanding it on a “self” level, I don’t see how we could understand it on an “organization” level. To be effective social communicators we must understand how we as individuals identify with the tools themselves and the communities we belong to, and ultimately how we identify ourselves in these spaces.

Are you authentic?

June 6, 2009 Posted by | Review of Monitored Site | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment