Week 6 Blog: YouTube & Public vs. Private Behaviour

YouTube Cartoon

This week’s article by Lange (2008) discusses the video-sharing phenomenon known as YouTube.com, analysing its usage in terms of access levels and how the functions of the website enable interactions within social networks.

In order to distinguish between those videos that are ‘public’ or ‘private’ in nature, Lange refers to Gal (2002, cited by Lange 2008 pg 365) who believes that these terms are able to shift depending on individual perspectives.  This dichotomy is described as being a “fractal distinction” (Lange 2008, pg  356).  I believe this distinction is fundamental to our understanding of the dynamics of YouTube in terms of social interaction. In the privacy spectrum of YouTube videos (Lange 2008, pg 369-372), ‘public videos’ contain personal identifying information and are broadly available and promoted, whereas on the opposite end of the spectrum ‘private videos’ contain little information about the  user and access to the content is restricted.  In the middle of the spectrum are ‘publicly private’ videos which contain personal information but access to them is somehow limited, and ‘privately public’ videos which do not contain identifying information but are widely accessible.

These categorisations characterise the different social exchanges that occur over YouTube between varying social networks; different relationships between users require ‘distinctive levels of protection from outside parties’ (Lange 2008, pg 376) which are demonstrated through variances in the privacy levels of videos.  I consider YouTube to be a very comprehensive social network site as the capabilities it possesses, including the functions of tagging, commenting, ‘friending’ and sharing, are defining characteristics of Web 2.0 services; in particular, the ‘user-generated tagging of content’ system known as ‘folksonomy’ (Warschauer and Grimes 2007, pg 2) enables users to share and link online content.  

– Katie Challita 3663620


Lange, Patricia (2008), ‘Publicly Private and Privately Public: Social Networking on YouTube,’ Journal of Computer Mediated Communication, vol.13, pp. 361-380

Warschauer, Mark and Grimes, Douglas (2007) ‘Audience, Authorship and Artefact: The Emergent Semiotics of Web 2.0,’ Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, vol 27, pp. 1-23)

Image sourced from http://www.fritzcartoons.com/2009/08/07/famous-on-youtube/

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