Digital Ethnography

YouTube and Acoustic Space

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The vision for my video was to represent how literate culture has produced a world that has for centuries disconnected and fragmented itself based on the use of the primary medium of the written word. We’ve manifested a world with boundaries and units and this can be seen in not only the various forms of technology we’ve produced, but even in how these technologies are created (i.e. assembly line, etc.). I then wanted to present how electronic technology is abolishing these previous boundaries by creating a world akin to the acoustic space mentioned by Marshall McLuhan and Edmund Carpenter; a world of resonating information that goes completely around us. Boundaries dissolve because information is everywhere at once and it no longer strictly obeys the linear nature implicit in the technologies of literate culture. By virtue of this, communication becomes easier and the world “implodes,” creating McLuhan’s popular idea of the global village. These benefits are not pervasive, however, and much of the world is without access to such technologies. This leads into the second part of my video. Here I not only wanted to represent the digital divide, but also the fact that even as global communication becomes easier, we are still separated by placing this technology between us to communicate. Face to face communication becomes altogether different. But what of these changes? Are they to be resisted? I say no, and that they are only modifying how we are communicating and it is up to us to determine how to benefit from these changes. This leads me to my last piece which attempts to represent YouTube as a practice in acoustic space; a mode of communication in the information/electric age that is capitalizing off these changes. But the question still remains, and should continue to be placed at the forefront of our minds: are we using this technology, or is it using us? Too often we see media as entertainment. I feel we have a considerable responsibility to discover how different forms of media shape us as human beings (including our culture) and in what ways may we harness the power of the different forms of media to create the most benefit for all of humanity.

I’ve spent a lot of time working on my video and sadly, the product I’ve produced thus far falls tremendously short of my standards. Based on this, I would prefer to scrap it and start fresh; however, time permitting I am unable to do so. I’m particularly unhappy with how the first part turned out. It seems too quick and choppy and, most of all, incoherent. The other two sections are turning out alright. I think once I find footage that represents the digital divide, the middle section will turn out to be the best. The final section I’m fairly happy with, however it could be exponentially better, so I need to brood over it for a while.

If I could do it all over again, I would focus more on comparing the apparent division among the YouTube community, namely those focused on entertainment (uploading/watching music videos, commercials, comedic performances with no personal insight, etc.) versus those who are using the medium to form personal connections and to create a community with rituals, rules, taboos. These people seem to understand an effective and nuturing use of this particular medium. Their use of YouTube in forming personal connections and community truly exhibits the phenomenon of McLuhan’s “Global Village” and a portion of humanities emergence into what may be called secondary orality/acoustic space.

This video taught me many things about visual story telling and made my shortcomings in trying to present abstract concepts via a visual medium very apparent. I read and learned an extraordinary amount this semester and I became very excited about the material. I was hoping to share this excitement with an audience.

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Comments

  1. brandi

    December 10, 2007

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  2. Alva Paulman

    January 25, 2012

    Would you mind elaborating on the first point? Sorry but I’m kind of slow when it comes to this :)

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About Digital Ethnography

Our work explores how humans use media, how media uses us, and how we can use new media to reveal our insights in new ways.

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