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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

I tube, you tube, we all tube for YouTube

Students find it easy to make and share video on-line.. (Photo by Chris Tsevis)
Students find it easy to make and share video on-line.. (Photo by Chris Tsevis)

Tufts Daily

Since it was founded in February of 2005, the popular user-run video sharing Web site Youtube.com has taken off, boasting over 100 views and 65,000 new video uploads each day, according to a Youtube press release.

The site, which allows users to post their own videos for any Web surfer to access, has quickly become the leading online location for video sharing and downloading.

But soon, that may change. The recent $1.65 billion purchase of Youtube by the Internet goliath Google has raised questions among users about whether the site’s quirky, user-focused aura will remain intact.

“What has been interesting about Youtube is the ability for anyone to post a film or video,” Tufts University Communication and Media Studies Program Director Julie Dobrow said in an e-mail. “It’s been an outlet for all kinds of creative expression and has given a lot of amateur producers and filmmakers the ability to have their work seen.”

According to Dobrow, Google’s purchase has caused users to question whether that atmosphere can remain under the rule of an Internet giant.

“The big concern I’ve heard expressed has been whether Youtube is going to be usurped by advertising and whether the massive Google will somehow ‘corporatize’ Youtube,” Dobrow said.

“Will that affect content posted in any way? Will that mean a larger audience, or one that is ultimately narrower as people are better able to select? Will Google’s purchase ultimately lead to a more homogenized product that’s shown?” Dobrow asked.

The answer might be yes: According to an Oct. 30 New York Times article entitled “Youtube is purging copyrighted clips,” Youtube has begun purging all clips from Comedy Central as “a result of third-party notification by Comedy Central.” According to the article, nearly 30,000 clips of TV shows, movies and music videos were taken down after the Japanese Society for Rights of Authors, Composers and Publishers cited copyright infringement. Youtube has not responded publicly about the situation.

At Tufts, students use Youtube for a variety of reasons, from sharing videos to watching television.

“My friends and I frequently use Youtube,” sophomore Sara Bell said. “I use it to upload videos when I want to share them with my friends. It’s a lot easier to give people links than to send them video files.”

For sophomore Matt Kaufman, the site is a great way to kill time and have fun. “I feel like [Youtube is] just used for amusement,” he said. “Some of my friends from home put up a spoof of [the play] ‘Waiting for Godot.'”

For Kaufman, the site’s strength is the freedom it gives to users. “The fact that anyone can upload a video is definitely appealing,” Kaufman said. “People can also comment on your video, so the allure of feedback is enticing, whether the video is just you and your friends messing around, a comedic movie or a striptease.”

While many of the videos on Youtube.com are clips from TV shows or movies, much of the site’s bandwidth consists of original user-created content.

“My friend showed me this video called ‘Evolution of Dance’ or something like that, where this guy just danced to different songs,” Kaufman said. “It was funny.”

That video, which consists of low-quality footage of a man dancing on stage to music from different historical eras, is Youtube’s most viewed video and has received just shy of 35 million hits in six months.

A search for “Tufts” will reveal less popular videos ranging from a prospective student’s plea to the Tufts admissions office to a documentary-style virtual “campus tour” produced by TheU.com. In addition, Tufts students’ contributions include performances from student groups like Blackout, the Amalgamates and Spirit of Color.

According to junior Julie Hanlon, who was in last year’s Torn Ticket II production of “Hair,” the show’s cast was surprised to find their performance uploaded to the site a few days after the show premiered.

“There was someone in the audience, we think with a digital camera with video capabilities, who was taping parts of the show,” Hanlon said. “Then a few days later they showed up on Youtube.”

Hanlon said that, while it was something she had not expected, she saw the clips as a positive way to show their performance to others.

“We actually thought it was pretty cool,” Hanlon said. “A bunch of us sat around and watched them together. I mean, the quality wasn’t great, but it was fun seeing ourselves posted on Youtube and knowing other people were watching us too.”

“I know I sent the Youtube link to friends who couldn’t make it to see the show,” she added.

Hanlon noted, however, that the clips themselves were “short and disjointed, and not really the best quality or from the best angle or anything.” The most popular of the clips, which has been viewed over 3,000 times since it was posted, features a low-sound-quality video of the cast singing and dancing to the song “Age of Aquarius.”

For cast member and sophomore Emily Rosen, the clips made her more uncomfortable than excited. According to Rosen, the videos did little to increase the show’s publicity.

“It was after the show closed and I might be off, but I got the impression that the only people who really knew about [the videos] were cast members,” she said.

“I was pretty indifferent — a little weirded out,” Rosen said. “I think most of us just didn’t understand why someone took the time and effort to record it, upload it, and put it online.”