Archive for the ‘free speech’ Category

YouTube: Emerging Popular Media and a New Political Force

Sunday, March 25th, 2007

YouTube ad – Vote Different – attacking Hillary Rodham Clinton potraying her as the “Big Sister” (remember “Big Brother” from 1984?) launches a new chapter in 2008 presidential campaigning in the United States of America. The recent demonstration of YouTube’s political impact came to notice during November 2006 elections in the United States.

Since then, the Internet has been buzzing about political video mashups. Observers of this media have begun recognizing that citizen activists are increasingly able to affect the political process. Vote Different video has become part of many other successful viral smash (more than 3 million requests in three weeks) and has created a debate about the impact that user-generated political videos will have on the 2008 presidential election in the United States.

Well known Blogger Arianna Huffington argues that the future of American politics rests in the hands of ordinary citizens, and that “the old political machine no longer holds all the power.” Many others see YouTube As New Political Force. It is hard to say how long the political class will continue underestimating the impact of changing technology.

While YouTube video wildfire was gaining strength in the United States, users from Turkey were banned from accessing YouTube videos.

Activists worldwide have been using YouTube and other online video sharing sites for quite some time. Recent examples include:

Philippine left-wing groups turn to YouTube, Internet to spread word about killings

Anti-gay propaganda from Christian activists on YouTube

Coffee Wars: Activists Battle Starbucks on YouTube

It will be interesting to see how Google – with its less than perfect record of protecting freedom of expression of its users in a country like China – handles pressures from political machines around the globe.

On August 23, 2006 Britt Bravo in his blog post Is Your Nonprofit on YouTube? found 76 videos tagged as Non-profit / nonprofit on YouTube. As of today I found 2,030 videos on YouTube using the same tag(s). Interestingly only one clip (The Best War Ever — by John Stauber & Sheldon Rampton) , which could meet traditional criteria of political issues raised by non-profit, made to the Top Five videos – listed by view counts.

Does it mean that non-profits will need to improve their message packaging while they use popular media? Or that YouTube is a fad soon to disappear without long lasting impact on the way non-profit do their outreach?

Future will tell us.