The contemporary media environment is in part shaped by a relatively small number of proprietary platforms, several of which are the lead characters in stock narratives about the journey from scrappy Web 2.0 startup to media megacorp – and YouTube is a paradigmatic example. In this presentation, I outline the challenges of empirically studying these platforms – these new media institutions – especially as they change over time. I illustrate the problem by revisiting my early empirical work on the popular cultural forms and practices that were emerging via the platform as it was in 2007; and the practical impossibility of repeating the exercise now. I then propose a solution to this problem of studying change over time: the Platform Biography approach. Building on this model, I revisit the story of YouTube’s evolution from informal videosharing service to major media player. I argue that the competing uses and ideologies that have structured YouTube from the beginning provide a compelling narrative of change, and an explanatory framework for both YouTube’s cultural generativity and the ongoing challenges that it faces – as a business, a digital media platform, and a cultural institution.
Sonia Livingstone is a professor in the Department of Media and Communications at LSE. Taking a comparative, critical and contextualised approach, Sonia’s research asks why and how the changing conditions of mediation are reshaping everyday practices and possibilities for action, identity and communication rights. She has published twenty books examining the opportunities and risks for children and young people afforded by digital and online technologies, with a focus on media literacy, social mediations, and children’s rights in the digital age. Her most recent books include The Class: living and learning in the digital age (2016, NYUP), Digital technologies in the lives of young people (edited, 2014, Routledge), Meanings of Audiences (edited, 2013, Routledge) and Media regulation: governance and the interests of citizens and consumers (2012, Sage). She is a fellow of the British Psychological Society, Royal Society for the Arts, and is fellow and past President of the International Communication Association. She was awarded the title of Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 2014. She leads the projects Global Kids Online and Preparing for a Digital Future and she directed the 33-country network, EU Kids Online. Visit http://email@example.com
Stuart Cunningham is Distinguished Professor of Media and Communications at Queensland University of Technology. His most recent books are Digital Disruption: Cinema Moves Online (edited with Dina Iordanova, 2012), Key Concepts in Creative Industries (with John Hartley, Jason Potts, Terry Flew, John Banks and Michael Keane, 2013), Hidden Innovation: Policy, Industry and the Creative Sector (2014), Screen Distribution and the New King Kongs of the Online World (with Jon Silver, 2013), The Media and Communications in Australia (edited with Sue Turnbull) and Media Economics (with Terry Flew and Adam Swift, 2015).
Mike Thelwall leads the Statistical Cybermetrics Research Group at the University of Wolverhampton, UK. He has developed and evaluated free software and methods for systematically gathering and analysing web and social web data, including for sentiment analysis, altmetrics and webometrics, and for Mendeley, Twitter, YouTube, Google Books, blogs and the general web. He also conducts evaluation exercises for large organisations using web data, including for various divisions within the United Nations and European Commission. He has co-authored 275 refereed journal articles and three books, including “Webometrics and social web research methods” (free online) and sits on five editorial boards.http://www.scit.wlv.ac.uk/~cm1993/mycv.html