Strategic and tactical uses of Internet design and infrastructure: the case of You TubeStrategic and tactical uses of Internet design and infrastructure: the case of You Tube
Faculty of Social Sciences. Communication Sciences
Visual and Digital Cultures Research Center (ViDi)
2009Columbus, Ohio, 2009
Journal of visual literacy. - Columbus, Ohio
28(2009):1, p. 51-69
University of Antwerp
This article aims to provide insight into the nature of the ongoing negotiation of power and control between the controllers (owners, designers, editors) and prosumers (consumers who are at the same time producers of content) of the YouTube Social Networking Site. The study is theoretically inspired by Michel de Certeaus (1984) ideas of utilization as a productive activity involving strategic and tactical behavior. We examine the steering mechanisms embodied in the YouTube infrastructure as well as its distinct practices of utilization. Web sites communicate cultural indicators through a complex interplay of words, pictures, design features, and navigational or narrative strategies. We analyzed this complex multi modal cultural discourse using the Hybrid Media Analysis Model (Pauwels, 2005) on YouTube topics, including a four-week period during the 2007 American pre-election campaign. The analysis shows thatwhile YouTube actively participates in constructing the image of users being on an equal footing with the platform producerspremolded personal space, the presented (and significantly missing) options, and embedded steering mechanisms call into question the notion of user empowerment. The study also highlights areas for future cultural and multi modal research into Social Networking Sites, such as SNS strategies, the authenticity of video posting, YouTube as a News source, and Web site design related to meaning construction.