Last week of course was the fifth anniversary of YouTube leading to inevitable commentaries both celebrating its democratic possibilities and bemoaning it as a massive waste of time. For those looking for more innovative and thoughtful views of the phenomenon, The YouTube Reader, edited by Pelle Snickars and Patrick Vonderau, includes reflections by leading media and film scholars on the site and its immense impact.
The YouTube Reader is the first full-length book to explore YouTube as an industry, archive, and cultural form. The contributors debate the problems and potential of “broadcasting yourself.” The YouTube Reader takes on claims of newness, immediacy, and popularity with systematic and theoretically informed arguments, offering a closer look at the available texts on YouTube and the policies and norms that govern their access and use.
The book’s accompanying site, now includes an online exhibition YouTube as a Mirror Maze created by Giovanni Fossati. Here is a description of the piece:
YouTube reflects you and you reflect (on) YouTube. On the other side of the mirror, YouTubers are watching. Reflections are endless and endlessly reflected into one another, like in a mirror maze.
Finding the way out is as difficult as not clicking the mouse for the next clip, the next mirror.
The exhibit reformulates famous and not-so famous YouTube clips, exploring the ways people have used YouTube to document their opinions (“Leave Brittany Alone!”), reflect on the banal, and build on and comment on other videos. The online exhibit also looks at how certain videos have spread globally and the innovative ways the medium has been used.