networking sites

As the Internet continues evolving and expanding, we see a shift from older to newer forms of entertainment, specifically from television to video-sharing sites such as YouTube. It has become a popular form of entertainment among teenagers. With younger generations spending more time on the computer, online network sites have developed ways to attract them to their sites. YouTube allows anyone to post up videos, enabling unknown individuals to share their stories with the World Wide Web audience. It takes the idea of MySpace as a launch pad for sharing unknown music and adapts it to one for sharing videos. What is interesting about YouTube is that it contains videos from all over the world. It provides a collection of homemade videos, movie clips, commercials, etc.

Though non-frequent users of YouTube may criticize the quality of videos on the site, Patricia G. Lange claims in her article, "critics fail to understand that video quality is not necessarily the determining factor in terms of how videos affect social networks. Rather, creating and circulating video affectively enacts social relationships between those who make and those who view videos." For instance, fans create and share montages for their favorite television shows and celebrities. People who view these montages connect with the video maker by leaving comments. The video serves as the common bond the video maker and viewer share. Social networking is easy to initiate because people can use the common interest as the platform to further conversation and build a relationship.

YouTube connects people together. People interested in a particular topic, as random as Burmese music, may search for it on YouTube and find what they are looking for. It is a visual search engine that complements Google. In fact, searching for videos in Google will return YouTube videos. Since the video-sharing network has a wide audience, it can quickly popularize a video. Take the new music video uploaded by "WeCan08" called "Yes We Can," which rallies young voters to support Barack Obama. Though uploaded a day ago, it has already caught people's attention. The song takes its lyrics from Obama's "Yes We Can" speech. Adapting a political speech into a song, then uploading it on YouTube, shows the unlimited possibilities of new media. People can use it to popularize themselves, celebrities, musicians, politicians, etc.

In terms of streaming videos, MySpace is less popular. Rather, MySpace is popular among music junkies, who Danah Boyd believes love "the fact that they could listen to and download music for free…A symbiotic relationship between bands and fans quickly emerged on the system as bands wanted to gather fans and fans wanted to be connected to their favorite bands. Given the degree to which youth are active participants in music subcultures, it is not surprising that MySpace attracted young fans." Online social networks target youth for good reason. Teenagers can easily socialize with old friends and make new ones online. The ability to "friend" a favorite band and leave them comments appeals to these young fans.

Connecting with people is the purpose of YouTube, MySpace, and Facebook. Sharing your personal life or talents with others who act as an "invisible audience" has its advantages. According to Boyd, "it is virtually impossible to ascertain all those who might run across our expressions in networked publics." Though the danger of this is that you will never know who is in the networked public, the upside is that you are expressing yourself to an unknown audience. Not knowing your audience can encourage you to reveal personal secrets or talents that you would not otherwise be able to do in person. Lange mentions CT, who disguises himself as "Vlad the Impaler" in a series of popular YouTube videos. CT surprises his friend RJ, who thought he lacked the talent to make videos. He uploads videos for the "invisible audience," which coincidentally includes RJ. Though YouTube is universal, it can also unknowingly connect real-life friends together. It is a useful medium to express yourself. Simply put, "Broadcast yourself."

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