Resisting the Digital Labor Management Robot : Learning to Game The YouTube Search Algorithm from Video Game Commentary Makers

19 Apr 2018
4:00 pm - 5:30 pm

190 Doe Library

Event Type

Hector Postigo
Associate Professor of Media & Communication and Media Studies & Production, Temple University

Since 2007, a group of videogamers grew from a small collective of participatory fans, showcasing their play on obscure YouTube channels, into media personalities converting their play into significant revenues. How did they do this so effectively? Did platform design reify the meritocracy and afford talented people the tools to create novel content and let the millions of information seekers on the web crown the next YouTube sensation? Or were there algorithmic methods to their rise that both rewarded and disciplined their production?

This presentation will describe the liminal identities, straddling craftwork and alienation, that these individuals took on through this algorithmically-mediated platform. Sometimes they were unhappy laborers in the creative industry that is user generated content on YouTube. Other times they were media entrepreneurs, savvy about how algorithms determine their viewership and stardom and who were not averse to coercing it to do their bidding through “giveaways,” staged “YouTube hate” between them, subscriber trading and other strategies. This presentation will describe those in detail and wrestle with that may mean how we understand digital labor in an algorithmically-mediated world. Harry Braverman once described a “deskilling” process that took much power away from industrial laborers.   Research on YouTube video game commentators shows processes at times similar but also vastly different.

This event is sponsored by CSTMS.
Additional sponsorship comes from:  Berkeley Institute for Data Sciences

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