Friday, August 03, 2007

new pew report: online video goes mainstream

researchers at the pew internet & american life project have been busy pumping out reports all summer. first, there was cyberbullying and online teens by amanda lenhart, next there was home broadband adoption by john horrigan and aaron smith, and then, last week, online video by senior research specialist mary madden.

(disclosure: i serve on the project's advisory board and was, in 2001, one of mary's professors at georgetown university.)

online video is fascinating for many reasons including its data that seems to confirm what many of us have felt intuitively: that among US internet users, online video is now mainstream. indeed, 57% of online adults have used the internet to watch or download video. more than three out of four (76%) young adults aged between 18-29 report watching video online. and nearly three-fourths (74%) of broadband users watch or download video online.

moreover, as the report makes clear, many users use online video socially. they watch videos with others, they send and receive links to online videos, they rate videos, they comment on videos, and they upload their own videos.

one of the key strengths of pew internet and american life project's reports - a strength that scholars, journalists, and new media pundits should emulate - is the way they place their object of study (the internet, digital media) within larger cultural, social, and economic contexts. for example, with respect to gender, 63% of men watch and download online video while only 51% of women do so. age is a huge factor: while 76% of internet users aged 18-29 watch video, only 46% of users aged 50-64 do so. education is another factor: 64% of college graduates watch video while 46% of high school graduates or less do so. and, echoing some of the findings in last year's latinos online, written by pew's susannah fox and gretchen livingston, access to broadband is a huge factor: 74% of those who enjoy high-speed connects at both work and home watch video while 31% of those with dial-up do so.

this fall, in a matter of weeks, i'll be teaching both sections of media studies 100, our intro course to the major. i continue to organize the course chronologically - print, radio, film, tv, computer, digital media - a tactic that is becoming increasingly outdated in our current age of convergence. i will certainly assign online video as a reading but am unsure where to put it in my syllabus: under the unit on tv? under video? under music? under digital media? reading through this latest report from pew and speculating where it will go in my syllabus makes me realize once again how fast the medium we use, study, teach, love, and hate is moving, morphing, and growing. thanks mary and thanks pew for helping us keep track.


Lanny Arvan said...

Perhaps, following the report itself, you should make the media habits of your students (and their siblings, their parents, other relatives, etc.) an object of study in your class. Then your sequencing might be dictate by considerations of how best to break the ice with them rather than by the temporal order that the media first appeared.

....J.Michael Robertson said...

Begin with it? Use online videos to preview of each of your chronological units? The sooner the excitement begins the better, else it's a long snooze, innit?

david silver said...

hey lanny, nice suggestion, thanks. for all my tech-related courses, i begin by surveying my students' tech use - but i do this to get a sense of their relative wiredness. i prefer your idea of using the surveys to help direct the rest of the course. we'll see. all that said, i do believe in the utility of a historical approach to media studies: there is - i think, i hope - something to be learned from radio before learning about film; there is - i think, i hope - something to be learned from film before learning about tv, etc.

michael: yes. you've touched upon one of the main bloggy ideas i'm pondering for the intro course. with 40 students in each class, a group blog is probably out of the question. but at this point, i'm thinking seriously about having a few students blog each unit (newspapers, magazines, radio, etc) and ask the rest of the students to get involved by posting comments. at this point, i'd like the students to think about, find, and post a youtube video that relates to the unit we are discussing. i've got more ideas about this we can discuss in person or right here in the comments.

Jay Fienberg said...

I don't know the scope of traditional media studies, but I wonder if it's now essential to look at traditional peer-to-peer media like postcards, the telegraph and telephone, to appreciate the social aspect of online video.

So, for example, YouTube is not just a development growing out of television, but it's a development growing out of telephone + television.

Just pondering. . .

david silver said...

i think you're right jay - that is, it is essential to introduce more traditional peer-to-peer media (let's add smoke signals to the list) to appreciate today's social media.

in the past, i taught this course via a communication department which means it leaned towards mass communication - printing press, radio, film, etc. but the boundaries are more fluid in media studies so i can definately include stuff like postcards. excellent.

Jonathan said...

I've been thinking about this a lot and have basically given up on a medium-specific approach to the intro course (mine is a 200-person lecture). Instead, we do it topically and I mix historical and contemporary examples.

More and more, with the rise of cellphones, gaming, p2p, social networking, etc., I feel that enduring questions of media studies remain but many of the standard textbook and pedagogical ideas are irrelevant, especially the distinction between interpersonal and mass communication.