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Mike Wesch on YouTube

I just watched Mike Wesch’s talk at Library of Congress about YouTube. Mike, as you undoubtedly know, has made some astoundingly lucid and compelling videos that explain the Web that takes away the last excuses for not “getting” it. Brilliant stuff. This talk is not one of those videos. It’s a 55 minute lecture, with lots and lots of examples, explaining the importance of YouTube. And, like his own videos, it’s compelling, brilliant, and moving.

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One Response to “Mike Wesch on YouTube”

  1. Fabulous lecture and presentation! The first and obvious advantage of our communication is that I could watch this lecture because you introduced it to me and everyone else who reads this blog. So this is user generated filtering by recommendation and review, and grass roots distribution along a horizontal axis of citizens. Traditional media distribution is a top-down vertical hierarchy where the few choose content for the many. Here the many redistribute in a horizontal pattern that moves forward exponentially based upon desire and authenticity.

    His notion of Cultural Inversion reflects an observation I made yesterday on the seemingly disparate directions of the simultaneous local and global economic movements. Carl Jung spoke of psychic imbalance by using the term “enantiodromia”. When psychic or cultural energies move too far in one direction there comes a point where they flip like a pancake and reverse themselves. So because our society has become overly individualistic, independent, and commercialized, we now seek and crave community, relationship, and authenticity. The internet has surprisingly become the tool of this cultural revolution and not merely the tool of commercialized interests as television has been.

    In literary fiction third person narration from an omniscient point of view predominates because it allows a fictitious all-knowing hierarchical narrator to tell us what all of the characters are thinking. This is convenient because as readers we wish to know not just what one person is thinking but what many are thinking. In Wuthering Heights the author changes narrators continuously and seemlessly to achieve a more complete omniscient view of the world in which the characters live. Faulkner uses multiple narrative segments in The Sound and The Fury to achieve the same effect. Virginia Woolf moved beyond the technical innovations of Bronte and Faulkner by creating a seemless omniscient stream of consciousness narration that allows the reader to instantaneously jump from the inner thoughts of one character to another, and then also jump into a traditional third person point of view as well. In one chapter of To the Lighthouse, it is actually the seacoast house itself which narrates the passage of time in the absence of its inhabitants.

    Literary Fiction as an anthropological artifact along with Mike’s research on You Tube reflect an evolutionary urge toward omniscience. Twitter asks “What are you Doing?”, but what we really might be interested in is “What are you thinking?”. In his research Mike notices that a large proportion of You Tube videos are addressed to You Tube itself. In our authentic moments, we broadcast and watch so that we can enter the minds of others and share our deepest truths. In these moments You Tube and the best Literary Fiction move us toward truth, authenticity, and omniscience.

    In Western Culture omniscience has been attributed to the divine and not the human world. Our literary stories have chiefly been told to us by an all-knowing narrator. In Eastern Cultures, human beings are viewed as aspirants on the path toward omniscient enlightenment. Omniscience, while rare, is still possible. The internet and its capabilities, far beyond all its other attributes, may not only provide a unique opportunity for self-organization and community, but its creation of relationships and authenticity may also have the potential to foster our human striving toward omniscience.


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