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Online | | ISBN: 9780262296809| February 2011

Essential Info

Learning from YouTube


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YouTube is a mess. YouTube is for amateurs. YouTube dissolves the real. YouTube is host to inconceivable combos. YouTube is best for corporate—made community. YouTube is badly baked. These are a few of the things Media Studies professor Alexandra Juhasz (and her class) learned about YouTube when she set out to investigate what actually happens within new media settings that proclaim to be radically "democratized." Why is what could be a tool for political change used mostly to spoof mainstream media?

Learning from YouTube, the first video—book published by the MIT Press, investigates these questions with a series of more than 200 texts and videos—"texteos." In scholarly fashion, it has ten "YouTours" composed of sequenced texteos making lengthier arguments. Unlike other books, however, video holds much of its meaning, many authors— students, YouTubers, and other scholars - share its (web) pages, it is written in a relatively informal voice, it cannot be printed and will appear only online, and content can and will be added. YouTube is its subject, form, method, problem, and solution.

The user can navigate the book by following the YouTours, using tags, or searching. Navigating the book, users will encounter Juhasz "pushing around Henry Jenkins"; holding an online off-classroom class ("what a failure! and it’s all YouTube’s fault!"); being interviewed by Fox News; considering "bad video" and the possibilities of effective political video; and much more.

About the Author

Alexandra Juhasz is Professor of Media Studies at Pitzer College, Claremont, California.


"Alex Juhasz has broken new ground again. Learning from YouTube is a brilliant experiment in 2.0 learning and teaching. It shows us not only what she and her class who crowd sourced many of the ideas and pathways in this project learned from YouTube, but also how one can use YouTube as a remarkable pedagogical site. Each section is an opportunity to explore different dimensions of already existing media theory and how it might help us to interpret the seemingly random and excessive experience of navigating through the YouTube universe, from LolCats to Jasmine Revolution uploads. So rarely do we see new intellectual work that not only helps us think about new forms of practice, but actually experiments with the very form of academic publishing itself, in ways that correspond to the object of study. Bravo for breaking new ground with good sense, good ideas, and a great sense of humor."
Faye Ginsburg, Director, Center for Media, Culture and History, New York University