Monday, August 03, 2009

Community on YouTube - Michael Wesch

Welsch articules the phenomenon of Cultural Inversion:
We express individualism, independance and commercialization
We value community, relationships and authenticity

According to M Scott Peck (who wrote in the 80's and 90's - source wikipedia ) the process of conscious community building involves:
1) building a shared story
2) consensual decision making
3) respect for all individuals
4) inclusivity of difference

What do these have in common with the kind of community Welsch talks about on You Tube? Below are some thoughts that just begin to address the complexity.

Shared Story: There is definitely a shared story as people are building on what they see when when they remix and imitate each other's videos.

Respect for Individuals: There seems to be an implicit respect for individuals and inclusivity of difference. A lot of shared values are expressed. Yet the trend toward hatred as public performance that comes from anonymity of you tube may fly in the face of the value of respect. Yet in an age of scarcity of attention, response is a form of respect.

Consensual Decision Making: "decisions are reached by seeking a consensus among active leaders and avoiding conflict where possible." Community traditionally involves mutual influence and a sense of commitment to what the community perceives as the greater good. In You Tube, decisions are made individually as people decide which videos they like and want to copy or pass on. You Tube decisions are neither consensual nor binding but rather individualistic and allow conflict to live side-by-side.

Inclusivity of Difference: Has the same tensions as 'respect.'

Summary: You Tube offers connection without constraints which is a new kind of freedom. Recognition, which I see as a key human need, is often fulfilled in community. Have people been living in isolation so long they have forgotten the mutuality of communties? Or, is the word 'community' being re-defined (or lost) like the word "friend' on facebook? Will the You Tube Community go through the traditional stages of group formation "Formin, Storming, Normin, Performin? Either way, the "You Tube Community," as Welsh articulates, is asking us to look again at what is possible for 'community.'



Sarah Stewart said...

Trying to think of an intelligent comment to make but can't at the moment...just mulling over what you have written. cheers Sarah

willie campbell said...

IU foun d the Wersch analysis quite provocotive. AND I am left still wondering about the tension between liberation through context collapse and lack of connection through the same. I think I will be watching this community carefully and monitoring my own reeactions to the way it is forming and unfolding. I don't know any group that doesn't have the stages yoyu mention-whether f2f or ehterbased.
Look forward to a continuing dialogue.