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Introduction to Youtube, a pedagogical readout. People, prospects of jobs, present and future
di Carmen Petruzzi   

L’instabilità accompagnata dal disorientamento e dallo stato di incertezza, ben descritta nella teoria della società liquida da Zygmunt Bauman, apre a riflessioni di ampio respiro sulla condizione umana e i processi relazionali, comunicativi, formativi anche nel web.

Gli approcci allo studio dei media che annoverano le applicazioni in classe e la formazione dell’individuo in ambienti extra formativi, possono considerare anche i social network quali ambienti virtuali di utile ricerca. Nella consapevolezza dei continui e rapidi cambiamenti dei mezzi di comunicazione, il saggio mira ad approfondire, all’interno del panorama pedagogico, aspetti interessanti e poco notati dei nuovi media, dei consumi e delle prospettive lavorative per adolescenti e giovani adulti. In particolar modo, intende porre attenzione al social networking quale ultima frontiera che connette le persone nell’era della tecnologia avanzata.

Instability accompanied by disorientation and uncertainty, well-described in the theory of liquid society by Zygmunt Bauman which opens up broad reflections on the condition of human being, relational, communicative, and training processes that also are established in the web. Media study approaches, which includes applications in classroom and education of individual in extra-curricular environments, can also consider social networks as a virtual environment for an useful research. In the awareness of continuous and rapid changes of the media, the essay aims to deepen, within its pedagogical landscape, interesting and little-known aspects of new media, consumption, job prospects for adolescents and young adults. Particularly, this essay intends to focus on social networking as the last frontier which connects people in the era of advance technology.

1. Introduction

The liquid world, problematic and global has become a crucial point of pedagogical paradigm that describes the limits and possibilities of present society and redefines the categories with whom to interpret the “modernity and surmodernity” (Auge, 1992).

Over the last forty years, reflections on the epistemological processes of fast society have encouraged scholars to open new research paths and to question the educational, relational, political, and workplace dimensions of an individual involved in a vortex of complex and unstable changes; Borrowing the words of Simonetta Ulivieri (2016), “we are building a new landscape which is limited but also enormous, compared to the lack of specific studies during the last sixty years”.

New global scenario is characterised by a multidimensional crisis which has definitively separated the power and politics, which had represented the solid foundation of the modern age and endorsed the image of a nation-state solid, centralised and strong, emptied soaked meaning of attraction of the word “community” and weaken any form of collective and long-term planning, thereby undermining the individual’s certainty (Bauman, 2007). Complementarily, there is a passage from the solid-modern society of producers focusing on caution, durability, security, and above all on long-lasting long-term security which defined human desire and the dream of a “stationary state” to a Liquid-postmodern society of consumers that associates happiness not so much to the satisfaction of requirements but rather with the constant growth in the quantity and intensity of desires. Which implies rapid use and rapid replacement of objects with whom it is thought and hoped to satisfy that desire (Bauman, 2008).

The globalisation, consumerism, uncertainty along with the loss of cardinal points in the West, invested by an overwhelmed economic crisis, have compromised the known time spaces, redefining borders that disintegrate the certainties, determination and immutability of things. The macroscopic factors which have contradistinguished the economy. The 21st century companies have slowly witnessed an epochal change – the digital revolution – that has seen us not attentive and passive protagonists.

Incubated since 1969 with personal computer, it is intended solely for the purpose of study, ARPAnet divulges into the community of researchers and scientists who realise the requirements for work in a unique connection. Since 1993, the name changed to the Internet and entered in the community, subverting everyday life, the relational and communicative processes of each of us. Unlike the personal computer which is tied to a visible technological breakthrough, the Internet core technology is a set of communication protocols transformed into suitable software to operate in normal telephone networks, where millions of fiber optic investments have been made to boost the network. Since 1993 it has a large population, already familiar with the computer, rich in income, culturally and practically available to appreciate the incoming and fundamentally abandoning the ghetto of the isolated machine, stands alone. The machine remained “personal” but connected and connectable (Carlini, 1999).

The digital revolution has been so rapid that it does not allow a systematic study but rather a gradual “sub-fund” involvement of intellectuals who have deepened its potentiality, pervasiveness and advantages but also dangers, superficialities and disadvantages.

Among these, the studies of Franco Cambi laid the foundations for pedagogical reflection on media, focusing on the television variable while Antonio Calvani has deepened the potentiality of technologies in scholastic contests. Pier Cesare Rivoltella, who defined the Millenials generation as the Screen Generation and promoted the basics for education in video culture.

Only twenty-five years ago, the internet appeared as a hybrid communication interface, then as a virtual venue, which at the same time was a newsstand, cinema and library; today it has englobed all the interfaces pre-existing and is considered as a container of containers, capable of supporting almost all human activities. Over the course of a few years, the picture has been changed by lengthening the distances of the generational gap between young people and adults in relation to the possession of necessary skills for governing new media, as pointed out by Pier Cesare Rivoltella, adolescents have shown that they understood better and before others that the internet is not only the field of online resources, and indeed, they have understood the deep meaning of a break in the cultural development of civilization “and so the fact that [...] for the first time all comes without  the necessity to leave” (Rivoltella, 2006). In this “new world”, we, the society of networking and in networking, we are in and out of its world, located in the planet (wherever they are present and absent), we assist to a relaxation of time and personalised knowledge of who or what an individual wants to know and who or what an individual decides to ignore, we are virtually involved in more or less peaceful exchanges of opinion that often occur behind concealed identities, we coordinate and plan our home life. Eternal and linear time is now marked by breakthroughs and discontinuities. It is a pointillist time which is distinguished by its inconsistency and lack of cohesion and splashed in a large number of “eternal moments” (Bauman, 2008).

2016 is considered a year of extraordinary growth in the use of internet to a global level, with an increase in indicators compared to the previous year; today there is a sum of 3.77 billion users with a penetration of 50% on the world population and an increase of 354 million users compared to 2015 (Digital in Italy and worldwide, 2017). The steadily growing trend also engages smartphone owners, users of social media and social networks, hours spent on the web, e-commerce, and online marketing, and could continue. The majority of users and connoisseurs of the paths of internet, even more theoreticians, many of the programmers and the computer scientists are the Millenials either of computers or the interfaces of virtual communications of social networks and platforms they have made them their natural extensions, while we the digital immigrants learn and know with much effort and less penetration in the galaxy internet systems. According to the report “Perils and Possibilities: Growing Up Online” (Unicef-Ipsos, 2016), one in three boys constitutes web utility, research was based on the results of ten thousand interviews conducted to 18 years old of 25 countries of the world, of which 8 out of 10 recognise the potentialities and benefits but also the potential for abuse or sexual exploitation, “The majority of adolescents recognise that online dangers exist and more than half think friends participate in risky behaviours”. Preadolescents, adolescents and young adults have a virtual meeting space in the World Wide Web but also a test cabinet for the new professions in the world of work, with the European professional ICT of third generation, among these they pertain the tasks to the virtual space. Iwa Italy is the professional association that represents new web professionals recognised by the law 4/2013 and it is also the only reality recognised by the Ministry of Economic Development for issuing of continuous certification and attestations of competence of Web Developer. From January 28, 2016, they are governed by UNI 11621-1/4:2016, Unregulated Professional Activities-Professional ICT profiles and, specifically, professional profiles related to WEB operators professions, European ICT Profiles operating in the WEB are twenty-five: Web developer, web server manager, web designer, web designer, web designer, web designer Strategic Planner, Web Accessibility Manager, Web Security Expert, Mobile Application Developer, E-Commerce Specialist, Online Store Manager, Reputation Manager, Knowledge Manager, Augmented Reality Expert, E-Learning Specialist, WikiPedian.

The characteristics of the smart, curious and keen workers – who can work on online and offline projects with good multichannel vision – are working everywhere and at the same time seem to attract more and more young people who choose courses for studying and universities in the sector of information technology and learning of digital soft skills but having been experimenting since young and in some cases very young in the virtual panorama.

2. From social experiments to virtual environments on the web: short history from 1971 to 2017

In 1971, the first e-mail message was sent that changed the spaces and times of receiving and answering a traditional letter, accelerating the communication system so far known. The step from a private communication and among connoisseurs to a wide, diversified communication, toward public of unknown users/friends, near and far. The first social experiences ever in virtual environments arose during the late nineties with chat communities, blogs and subsequently the first social networking experience ever seen on the web was in 1994 Geocitites that allowed people living in the same city to share multimedia resources, after one year followed by, a social network that granted to share content between users of similar and unlimited geographical interests. In 1997, however, the earliest instant messaging software Aol Instant Messenger was created, which allowed to send messages and conduct conversations between two or more active users and whose mails were known. In later versions it was possible to write, send emoticons and link videos and songs. Boys and girls preferred it to a traditional mobile messaging because Messenger was free, virtual and interactive.

In 2002 and 2003, there were contrasted Friendster and MySpace, which lay the bases of a proper space, personal or personalised where the user meet who share common interests and, rightly, can be considered friends. The idea of a shared space is one that has led to the success of the youngest Mark Zuckerberg who launches Facebook in the first version limited to college students at the University of Harward, later to other universities and finally to all the world users who have declared an age over thirteen. Within a few years, Facebook is pushing for the world’s public, by surpassing the lucky MySpace and reaching a billion users in 2012. Meanwhile, since 2006, other social networks like Twitter, Tumblr, Yahoo, Snapchat are emerging and established.

YouTube is among the younger realities and develops right away as a distributed video sharing platform in almost every part of the world (in China, North Korea and in Iran YouTube is barred). It was born on February 14, 2005 in the garage of Chad Hurley’s home there he worked with his colleagues and friends Steve Chen and Jawed Karim, who in April of the same year uploaded the 1st video “Me at the zoo” that gets ten million of views. Instant visibility, extreme variety of videos and the ability to listen and review them several times and anywhere, interacting the users from all over the world, save playlists have confirmed its fortune but YouTube looks different from other social networks that offer opportunities to meet friends and connoisseurs or newcomers on the web, on condition that is whether a reciprocal will (interaction is only possible when one of the two offers the other one to enter his/her own circle) since it allows to  upload their videos on channel visible to any user who does not necessarily need to sign up (ask for friendship on Facebook) to find, follow, appreciate, hate, share, or comment. In 2006, Google was sold for one billion and seventy-five million dollars in shares, and in the same year, the Time nominated YouTube, Person of the Year. To understand the vastness of the virtual enterprise and its achievements, it is enough to think that on October 9, 2009, YouTube reaches one billion of videos visualisation per day, quadrupled in 2012, and thus highlights the high, fast impact it has on society and the world. The video that has acquired multiple views is a Psy music video clip “Gagnam Style” that currently accounts for nearly three billion views.

The last frontier will be the launch of Facebook Spaces, the first virtual social network that Mark Zuckerberg has given news during the Facebook F8 2017 dedicated to developers. Spaces is currently in the beta version among Oculus apps and is downloadable free of charge, born from the idea of creating a virtual and interactive meeting space for distant friends, from the virtual world to the abstract world. Starting from their profile and the information entered there, users can create a realistic or imaginative avatar of themselves, take photos, draw, play, and make videocalls using 360° video as a background.

3. Youtuber, from Nip to VIP of entertainment

The youtuber is first of all a media enthusiast, who has an internet connection and who is active on social networks. YouTuber has a video camera and computers, with a minimum of technological information skills; these features are designed to autoproduce creative and original contents which are uploaded to a proper YouTube channel and become accessible without cost for any platform user who can decide to follow and become a follower. The general idea is to foster Open platforms open up opportunity which means “creating a place where anyone with a video camera, computer, and an Internet connection could share their life, art and voice with the world, and in many cases make a living from doing so” (Chad Hurley, 2009).

They are usually Nip (not important person) that reaches a degree of popularity which makes them vip on Youtube, virtual celebrities with contracts, sponsors, books and movies releases. So they are not famous people, but they are women and men, girls and boys, in some cases children and common children who can become, opening a channel that establishes contact with each other through a unified relationship because they do not know their followers, often hidden by a nickname.

Like traditional media, even youtuber’s works promote a continuous source of entertainment in any space and any moment, guaranteeing an indirect socialization since their messages are based on an emotional involvement that does not involve in judgement of value, but aims to trigger statuses, moods or behaviours of consumption, social participation or political adhesion, basically irrational; does not involve interaction and therefore does  not stimulate the subjects to talk, to check how much they observe, to ask questions; they exercise by totally passivating effect that discourages the critical spirit and ability to choose (Ribolzi, 1993).

The “audience” who are recognised, are those of a short comments left under the video but after all invisible and anonymous of the statistical analyses that YouTube itself provides to the youtuber who, therefore, knows the percentage of followers by age, gender, and average vision of a video. These informations are fundamental for those kind of recordings that they decide to upload, following the tastes of the most conspicuous part of the users and pleasing others. This is a wide variety of video: gaming, tutorials, music, jokes, challenge, sporting just to name some and the subcategories are innumerable: vlog, ask, haul, rankings...

To ease the choice of channels, could be chosen the most popular videos that YouTube divides in: The Best of YouTube, Music, Humor, Movies and Entertainment, Games, Fashion and Beauty, Sport, Technology, Cooking and Health, News and Politics.

More visualisations mean more popularity in the web world and this is well known by the digital native who opens a channel on Youtube and starts uploading videos, advertising himself/herself under other channels or asking in an archaic form of virtual marketing from other ‘colleagues’ publicity or asking the users to leave a like of appreciation. When an Italian channel begins to record numbers that exceed ten thousand followers then what goes under the name of entertainment begins to be paid payday for youtuber. The channel monetisation occurs mainly through the introduction of ads within recordings and following the procedure it can be requested directly to YouTube (to enable this feature, the account needs to have a good reputation for community standards and Copyright) or through third-party networks acting as intermediaries between the two parties. The Youtubers are rewarded according to CPM (cost per thousand impressions) and it is the sum that sponsors spend on YouTube to visualise their promotional message. The figure is variable and stands for around seven gross euros, collected every thousand views. CPM is only paid when the youtuber respects the chords and netiquette of the videos that need to be posted with some regularity and without content of sexually explicit or unwanted content, eliminating music that trigger copyright or plagiarise other videos. Banner and advertising earnings are paid into the AdSense account (advertising circuit that advertises advertisers and publishers) and can be collected once the payment threshold is exceeded by the service. Over 50% of the earnings is for Youtube and another percentage paid to the mediator partner. There are currently top ten top paid youtubers in the world, in such charts the American competition counts with millions of followers and six-year annual earnings. This is the case for the four million dollars annually taken by the Swedish PewDiePie AKA Felix Kyellberg, a young gamer who has nearly 55 million subscribers (my source, updated in April 2017) to the channel, his “Bro Army” have a mean age Between 12 and 35 years. In Italy, however, successful youtubers reach three million and seventy thousand registered in the case of Favij, nearly two million on Cicciogamer89’s channel or more than one million in Greta Menchi’s case (my source, updated April 2017). In any case they are young people who opened a channel when they were still underage.

A user who is loyal to a channel is updated in real time and can follow his/her VIP and knows when he/she shares the latest video from YouTube or directly from youtuber on social networks such as Instagram, Facebook and Twitter which guarantees continuous contact, minimal, daily contact with proper followers and expanding the choice of social networks to entertain.

4. Conclusions

On October 9, 2009, co-founder of Youtube Chad Hurley, posted on his blog the note “Y,000,000,000u Tube” to celebrate the billiards of daily views and to celebrate the success in just three years since the project started in the garage that has given them their commitment to improve the platform by following three key principles: speed issues, cultural clip is here to stay, open platforms up opportunity. And there are always goliardically crowned “burgers kings of media”, as the most well-known fast food chains are everywhere in the world and provide fast service, which can be done anywhere via a fixed or mobile device that offers an infinite variety of products to choose but it does not always guarranty the quality of the product. Consumers are mostly part of the speed generation that looks at the web as a reality present and non future. The infinite possibilities to interact, connect and present in the world beyond the borders of the home, citizens and nations are almost the present.

It is not a coincidence that even Bauman has introduced his text on consumptions with a reference to the multiplication of social networks as new locals in the high quarters, meaning, attract many customers to the newness but soon lose their attraction because they are overcome by new trends. At the centre of success there is a publicly quoted cyber-life, “social life transformed into electronic life” (Bauman, 2007) that pushes to show my inner self into confessional society.

New social and cultural constraints involve the human dimension and its cognitive potential, increasing the main roads to create a labyrinthic network of the same human life, “there are no longer just straight roads, planned and scheduled life plans, but also zigzagging roads, curves, corners to turn, projects to re-see, re-build, re-invent” (Dato, 2009). Consumption practically affirms the principle of globalisation of the one-dimensional way and it looks like a revelator of a new perception of reality, everything that happens in the world it’s like it were about everyone’s life (McLuhan, 1986) and the YouTubers have captured this possibility: the increase in the incidence of new information technologies, namely the possibility of immediate and free access to information, emulation, and sharing have become aspects of an independent, creative, self-developing, rapidly expanding work. And we do not yet know where it will lead. Not all youtubers are able to get out of virtual channels and get familiar with other media, but for many of the multifunctional features of their work, a solid “gavetta” in the virtual ensured visibility and luck. It is not a coincidence that in the blog which was mentioned earlier in 2009, Hurley has mentioned the rapid changes and particularly “There are more ways than ever to make and consume content, and more of you are looking to turn your hobby into real business. We’re working hard to keep up with the fast pace of technology to bring you everything you’d expect from the world’s largest video site: better quality; A full spectrum of choices and tools for users, partners and advertisers; And ways to make the YouTube experience your own anywhere, anytime”.

Presently, YouTube Creator Academy offers customised packages of basics, 360 degree videos, strategies for different types of channels, measuring success by reading YouTube analytics and more to create quality content and make a passion for job. These tutorials are free and visible to everyone which form young youtubers in and fall into lifelong and lifewide training in a media outreach process that represents the way to go “to continuously become competent and aware of their possibilities, of those already acquired and those to be realized” (Loiodice, 2009). These videos are complemented by Faq and Intermediate tests to verify the acknowledgement of learning process.

It is not just about affronting the social network as a subject inquiry of computer science experts or applications about new didactics but to understand the vastness of an information system, indirect and direct training and entertainment which is on fingertips, which modifies and constantly evolves with power over thought and the choices of all, especially adolescents.

The endless reading keys – among these this essay is just a small tip of iceberg – that pedagogues can deepen and offer to read at the same time and not afterwards a changing society and hence their training, recreational and tendency needs young, adolescents and adults, the impact on the new working guidelines that opens up the virtual world, infantilisation, possibility of socials and limits, meeting others, cyberbullying, education with a view to lifelong education, new models and much more that serve to design spaces of action and confront. To be inside and out of post-modernity, inter and intra-connection with themes, directly on the field and in the system. It is therefore a matter of studying the new confessional society which is distinguished by having erased the public and private boundaries among the public that has enhanced the sharing of one’s life and the thoughts of the youtuber in mentee (Biagioli, 2016) reducing everything to privately public confidence.


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