Some very interesting suggestions today about how one might study YouTube, and why studying particular aspects of YouTube would raise different questions as well as providing different answers. One suggestion, from Ben Cole and his group, was to look at the most popular videos, see how many were “user-generated”, how many were professional media, how many were uploaded, copyright infringing content, etc. Interestingly enough, and I’m sorry I didn’t have the book with me, this is precisely what Jean Burgess and Joshua Green did in their book YouTube: Online Video and Participatory Culture. They drew a sample of videos, in August, October, and November 2007, from the Most Viewed, Most Favorited, Most Discussed, and Most Responded lists. They took these 4320 videos and classified them as either user-generated or traditional media. (Copyrighted material uploaded by users counted as media content: the point was, who made the stuff rather than who put it there.) This is what they found:
(LIST) User-created Pro Media uncertain
Most Viewed 277 717 86
Most Favorited 466 511 103
Most Discussed 751 276 53
Most Responded 683 308 89
TOTAL 2177 1812 331
Very interesting results, in light of what we discussed, that these slices across what YouTube offers present different kinds of materials. This does not deal with the possibility that YouTube moderates or modulates these lists (it does).