The impact of YouTube on media production and distribution has been break-neck, immense, and seemingly irreversible. In this chapter I argue that media production professors need to embrace, and not to avoid YouTube, as if it was what the French call a stylo: a pen. To do so, we need to better understand YouTube and YouTube videos. I impart here some of the lessons I have learned from teaching an experimental course, Learning from YouTube, in which all the course work has been about, but also on, the site. These lessons illustrate the genres, contents, and styles of “video writing” that my students have developed to expand the reach of YouTube's more standard and banal content. The lessons also address how knowledge of the technologies, ownership, architecture, and customs of the site can allow for careful, considered, and self-referential student work to become a critical part of this unruly archive.
This, right here, is writing with words on paper about video on YouTube. This variety of YouTube writing uses words to call up digital sounds and images, in a scholarly prose common to the field of media studies. It is to be read on paper, in a chapter of this book. However, the YouTube writing that is the focus of this chapter is a new kind of academic text (and cultural object), enabled by digital technologies that allow for video to become something akin to a pen ideally ...