Our society is media dependent. Photography and videography are all around us with myriad uses in business, education, science and art. We are hooked on sounds and images, both still and moving.
We are infatuated with many spinoffs from digital still photography and digital videos — animation, machinima, fandom, cyberculture, feminist films, visual ethnography and a wide variety of other offshoots.
In fact, electronic moving images have been one of the great innovations of the past 75 years.
What are the social implications of the latest trends in sound and image media?
Photography has raised a number of concerns about its impact on society.
There are lots of questions. For instance, what about the objectivity of photography?
Photographers decide what to photograph, which elements of a subject to exclude and how to frame the subject.
Some have said photography is subjective, rather than objective.
The act of photographing certainly is more than just passive observation. Photography changes perception of society.
The camera may presume, intrude, trespass, distort or exploit from a distance with detachment. It can capture images of pain and anguish.
Photographic images can desensitize. Photos of war, violence, crime and sex cause a stir. Adults fret over disturbing images that are accessible to children.
A discussion of desensitization often ends with calls for censorship of images.
What are viral videos?
A viral video is one that becomes popular through internet sharing, particularly via websites and email. It’s a video passed electronically from person to person regardless of its content.
Sometimes viral videos are funny, especially when they rip off televised comedy sketches, such as Saturday Night Live video clips.
Others are not funny, but are eyewitness records of events.
With the proliferation of camera phones, many videos are being shot by ordinary people. The availability of inexpensive and easy-to-use video editing and publishing tools allows video shot on mobile phones to be packaged and distributed virally — by email or website and between phones by Bluetooth or texting. Typically, such videos are intended initially for viewing by family and friends.
For example, Apple’s iPhone has video editing built in. No need for shooters to wait until they are at computers to package their videos. They can perform basic editing with iMovie right in the camera by just dragging to select start and end points on a filmstrip, combining and editing video clips, polishing with dynamic themes and transitions, adding music and photos, and sharing their finished movies with the world. Video can be recorded on the fly and sent to someone immediately in a text message or email attachment, or posted to YouTube.
Creating Internet celebrities
YouTube and other video websites can create celebrities when individuals attract publicity through their videos.
Such Internet fame can have various unexpected effects. Producers sometimes give Internet celebrities development contracts or work in films and TV shows.
Promoting a band’s music
YouTube offers a means of promoting a band’s music. Many independent musicians, as well as large companies, use YouTube to promote their music videos.
A famous example was the Free Hugs Campaign video with music by the Sick Puppies, which brought instant fame to the band and the campaign.
Viral video advertising business
Viral video advertising is like television advertising.
The videos entertain and inform the viewer. In fact, humor plays an important role in attracting an audience.
An example was the Office Max ad campaign in 2008 entitled “Penny Pranks” in which a man went around NYC purchasing things with pennies. The successful viral videos highlighted the chain store’s back-to-school message.
Viral video has become a way for people to air grievances against alleged abuses by authority.
Using viral videos in education
Viral videos are popular tools for teachers.
TeacherTube is a website sharing more than 54,000 educational videos among teachers.
Some college professors use viral videos in their classrooms.
Legal implications of viral videos
The improper use of copyrighted material has caused problems for the entertainment industry, especially when users have uploaded music and TV clips to viral websites like YouTube.
A viral videos can violate copyright laws when its content has not been produced as original material by the video’s producer.
However, as viral videos have become popular, clever entertainment companies have found ways to profit from the them. For example, one-click buying of products seen in the viral videos has allowed companies to profit.
Implications for politics
Viral videos appeared during the 2008 United States presidential election season.
In June 2007, the “I Got a Crush…on Obama” music video starred a girl expressing her affection for Barack Obama. Millions of people went to YouTube to see the video.
For the first time, YouTube hosted the CNN-YouTube presidential debates. YouTube users posed questions.
Turning to the internet for news
The Pew Research Center in 2008 found that approximately 2 percent of their survey participants said that they received their news from non-traditional sources like YouTube and MySpace.