YouTube is similar to Blogger, WordPress, TypePad, flickr, and other popular upload platforms. They all enable average users to quickly and easily publish content to the web, for the potential viewing of a global audience.
At the MySpace platform, people are trying to construct and convey a personal identity, and connect with others of compatible sentiments and moods.
On the other hand, people at YouTube are trying to provide video content that will appeal to others, whether their personality is a part of that content or not. At times it is other people's content, like music videos by favorite bands, or juicy segments of a televised speech.
An excerpt from "Halloween Goblins" by John Hagel III.
In this context, let’s differentiate two different forms of creation – identity creation and content creation - by contrasting MySpace with sites like Flickr and YouTube.
Identity creation. The overwhelming growth of MySpace stems from its success in helping participants to create and evolve distinctive identities. It does this by providing a robust platform for appropriating and mixing different elements, combining music clips, video clips, graphics and text in engaging ways, to create and communicate a distinctive identity.
Bowley’s article does a nice job of communicating how MySpace rapidly gained share against an earlier social network site, Friendster, by emphasizing this functionality.
Bowley reports on her conversation with the two founders of MySpace:
They were getting “antsy” about doing something new, especially in social networks, they told me, and thought they could get away from the pre-programmed “box” that Friends locked users into and instead let people “really open up and do all sorts of things with their profiles.”
“Our site worked,” said DeWolfe. “You actually could log on, surf, customize your web pages and really be creative.”
In contrast to Friendster, MySpace encourage people to put up wacky art or even pipe music on to their pages. . . . As Friendster fell back, MySpace became the leading social network site, its millions of pages a cacophony of teenage self-declarations, friends’ testimonials, flirting, provocation, scrawls, art and music.
Content creation. Now let’s contrast this with Flickr or YouTube. Here, the emphasis is on a different form of creation – it’s more about content creation than identity creation. Surf through Flickr and you encounter impressive photography. YouTube provides a great platform for presentation of videos, some appropriated from other sources, but an increasing number produced by the contributors themselves. On these sites, you get some sense of the identity of the contributors, but the real focus is on showcasing the content itself. Networks in these sites begin to organize around a shared interest in certain forms of content. The content is the anchor and shaper of social networks.It is interesting to note that MySpace really took off initially as a showcase for indie bands and their music. As music fans flocked to this site, MySpace was able to evolve into an environment for broader identity creation and experimentation because of the flexible platform it had created.
Sites like Flickr and YouTube are likely to have a harder time doing this because their sites are optimized for content capture and display.
Now, how are using your blog? To forge and display a journaled identity, a corporate presence, an expertise or specialty? Or are you more concerned with content, like information or entertainment? Have you ever thought of it this way? Toward which are you most slanted? Identity or Content?
Is Identity just another form of Content, and is Content a Self-Identifying Identity?
Where does identity end and content begin?
Can you clearly define one sentence as "me/myself" and another sentence as "information"?
Aren't many YouTubers displaying who they are?
Don't many MySpacers provide information and entertainment content?
Where are we now, then?