YouTube 101, Just Because

    September 19, 2007
    WebProNews Staff

Your first reaction to the news that a college offers a class in YouTube might be to dredge up old "underwater basket-weaving" jokes; learning the school is in California, might be less surprising – after all, Stanford offers a course in Facebook apps.

But the guys that made Google came from there so we cut them some slack.

Pitzer, though, which sounds nearly vulgar (we’ll assume it’s named after someone and try not to be impolite by pointing and giggling), doesn’t have quite the recognition as Stanford, but was named one of the best 50 colleges by US News & World Report, so they must be doing something right over there.

The Yale Daily News Staff named Pitzer one of the "most artsy schools," too. We’ll also assume that to mean a certain, well, unorthodox approach to learning, and that they might not be able to throw a football.

But it’s all good…this isn’t the Eighties and Alpha Beta‘s not running things anymore.

"That’s the beauty of college these days," says Droz.* "You can major in Game Boy if you know how to bullshit."

Well, I think we’re just talking one class here, and not a major…yet. I did take a weight-lifting class in college, and karate, and acting, and one called International Approach to Dress (they called me crazy until they found out it was 49 girls and me in there) – you know, classes to help round out my education.

"Classes: nothing before eleven," says Droz. "Beer: it’s your best friend, you drink a lot of it."

What do you do in YouTube class? Well, you study what goes on on YouTube. The students have their own area on the site where they post videos and comment, and use YouTube as a tool to study American culture and Internet culture, and of course, American Internet culture. I’m back to counting words in my essays.

What exactly the class is seeking to learn about YouTube wasn’t clear in USA Today, but that initial WTF twinge you had wasn’t helped any by wondering how posting a video of yourself juggling is a form of study.

But Alexandra Juhasz, a Pitzer of a media studies professor there (couldn’t resist), brings up a more compelling reason to study YouTube later in the article: raising issues about "corporate-sponsored democratic media expression."

And that is a big issue. We’ve got a raging conversation going in the comments section of our article on CBS and bloggers about that very thing, and I’ve raised it previously when YouTube struggled with international censorship concerns.

A commentator at TechCrunch by the handle "Wakarimasen," (Japanese for "don’t understand," but without a pronoun antecedent it’s hard to know if he or she means himself/herself or Arrington), says:

it’s absurd to think that academic study should not examine a prominent contemporary phenomenon like youtube. this class may need some fine-tuning, but is sorely needed in our increasingly technological world.

I think Wakarimasen gets it, and most likely Pitzer gets it too. This citizen media thing is important and revolutionary and should be studied, even if users admit, from one of the latest student videos posted, they "look at dumb things" on YouTube.

*Yes, I’m quoting fictional characters. You got a problem with it? Talk to Ogre from Revenge of the Nerds. "CRITICS!" says Ogre. Get’em Ogre.