Wednesday, April 15, 2009

the discussion up until now

As stated in my previous post, much of the scholarship surrounding viral video phenomena tends to focus on things from an advertising perspective, so lets review where they're coming from.

On a reccomendation from none other than media scholar and popular YouTuber Michael Wesch, I looked into scholarship by Henry Jenkins sourrounding the 'myth' of viral video. His paper "If It Doesn't Spread It's Dead" is compiled on his blog in eight separate posts, the first of which focuses on the use of 'virus' and 'meme' as terms to describe media functions. In his words -

Use of the terms "viral" and "memes" by those in the marketing, advertising and media industries may be creating more confusion than clarity. Both these terms rely on a biological metaphor to explain the way media content moves through cultures, a metaphor that confuses the actual power relations between producers, properties, brands, and consumers.

Jenkins illuminates several points about the discussion of viral video up until now: it has not been entirely consistent and is something inherently tied to the producer/consumer relationship that dominates traditional media.

Dick Stroud further emphasizes the relationship to advertising in another paper, "Guerilla Video: why and how Web Video will change the fabric of the Web," discussing why embedded video will be one of the most significant developments in online marketing. The paper explains the developments that have "...enabled the explosion in web video to occur and the opportunities it creates for marketers."

Jose Castillo attempts to demystify some of the discourse in "Attack of the Giant Web 2.0 Lies," among them the idea that small business cannot make money from web video, something left to corporate sized budgets with the capacity to hire third-party firms. With several concrete examples that speak to the humanistic quality of YouTube and 'authentic' viral campaigns that benefited small businesses (something that is at least not wholly corporate), it is still derived from the thread of web video as a capitalistic enterprise.

Discussion in the blogosphere also seems to speak to a growing cynicism toward 'viral video,' evinced in a post by guest blogger to TechCrunch Dan Ackerman Greenberg entitled "The Secret Strategies Behind Many 'Viral' Videos." As an employee of an anonymous YouTube view-hawking company, Greenberg makes several bold claims about artistic merit and its relative unimportance when it comes to graduating into the neighborhood of 100,000 views.

Hope exists, however, in the revolutionary rumblings of the more art-inclined blogs, VideoArtNetwork in particular suggesting the creation of an artist's YouTube, free of the content restrictions (copyright among them) and also aesthetic restrictions caused by limited file uploading capability.

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