Thursday, May 25, 2006


YouTube gets a lot of attention for its low-budget entertainment content and the surrounding peer-to-peer culture from which it thrives. This online video website has been praised as the manifestation of a do-it-yourself ethos and derided as the ultimate endgame of primary narcissism.

As a rhetorician, I think YouTube is also worth tuning inot because it shows how convincing arguments are made in the public sphere both in the past and in the present. For a blast from the past, see Fred Rogers leave his Neighborhood for the House and singlehandedly convince lawmakers to double the budget for public television. Or you can watch the trailer for An Inconvenient Truth, which may make me rethink my diatribes against PowerPoint oratory. Of course, Gore isn't a Microsoft man, so his electronic slideshow is less pre-programmed to begin with.

A recent Washington Post story, "Five Months After Its Debut, YouTube is a Star," describes how Pentagon Bureaucrat Terry Turner is filling bandwidth with amateur political commentary after work. Digital tools make it possible to for Turner to create convincing looking weekly newcasts in keeping with the YouTube motto "Broadcast Yourself." His demo reel is worth a visit.



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