University of Toronto Press Blog

  • Trends in Canadian Internet Use: 2009 - 2010

    For this entry in my UTP blog I decided to talk about online video use within a video - using the medium to discuss the medium. The result is hosted on YouTube and can be viewed below. Herewith follows a brief reflection on the process of video blogging.

    First of all, communicating by online video is by far the most time-intensive form of networked communication (and here I speak with almost 20 years of online experience!). Although the final product seen below is rough around the edges - clearly a largely unscripted, homemade production - it nonetheless took 90 minutes to put together. This included two failed attempts which were filmed, uploaded, annotated, then deleted due to various flaws. There are still flaws in my final presentation, but I prefer to go by the general rule 'good is good enough' when it comes to my amateur video productions.

    Nonetheless, regardless of the time involved, the project left me thinking more about YouTube videos as a promotional tool for the book (which I shamelessly promote in the video below). I intend to make numerous videos that analyze current trends in Internet and online video use and use these as tools to promote Watching YouTube to business and academic audiences. Use the medium to discuss the medium and reach readers who are searching the medium for insight into the medium. The medium is, well, everything.

    Dr. Strangelove

  • Amateurs: The New Common Culture

    Time, the magazine that declared YouTube as the Person of the Year in 2006, recently released a list of YouTube's top fifty videos. How this list was determined we do not know, but it is a marker of current tastes that merits attention.

    In Time's list of YouTube's top fifty videos fifteen are commercial productions, such as clips from news broadcasts, television shows, and music videos. Seven are made by semi-professional entertainers, such as the YouTube child star behind the Fred show. Over half, twenty-eight, are amateur videos featuring a wide range of subjects, from babies, children, puppets, assorted animals, and home-made music videos.

    While it is only five years old, YouTube continues to demonstrate that we are entranced by content coming from amateur videographers. This defies long held expectations within the media industry that only professionals would be able to develop and deliver content that would attract a mass audience. Indeed, amateur content may yet prove to be a serious source of fragmentation and competition for eyeballs within the media ecology. Exact numbers are not yet available, but I strongly suspect that amateurs account for the majority of the 25 hours of video that is upload every minute to YouTube.

    There are far more amateurs armed with video cameras than there are sources of professional content production. There are literally billions of amateur photographers and videographers in the world today, along with 1.7 billion Internet users. This means that we have entered into a fundamentally different paradigm of cultural production - one in which amateurs account for the majority of video-based cultural production. This situation, this shift in representational power, is unlikely to change.

    The commercial sector will continue to have a distinct advantage in production values and capital investment, and the audience will continue to enjoy the blockbuster movies that Hollywood and Bollywood produce. Yet when I try to talk about movies or television shows with my undergraduate students I face the effects of a highly fragmented audience. Few of them will have seen the show that I wish to discuss. If I want to talk about something from the past, for example, the excellent 1976 movie Network, staring Faye Dunaway, maybe one or two out of sixty students will have seen it. But if I ask how many of my students have seen the video parodies of Hitler in the Downfall movie, or Laughing Baby, or a cat playing piano, or David after Dentist, the majority will have seen what I saw on YouTube.

    And here we come to the crux of the matter. Television no longer offers a common culture. It is losing its position as the dominant source of shared stories. Increasingly, we find ourselves sharing the experience of having seen something on YouTube. And more often than not, that something was made by amateurs like us.

    Dr. Strangelove

  • Welcome to UTPress 2.0

    The University of Toronto Press is pleased to announce that our new website is now up and running! Join us at www.utppublishing.com.

    We hope you’ll come by and look around.

    More than just a pretty face, our new site has lots of ways to help you find books faster, order electronic exam copies, and follow us online.

    Highlights of our new website include:

    Looking for that certain book, but not sure of the title? Our Advanced Search function means that you can now search by Title, Keyword, Author, ISBN, Pub Date, Subject, or Series.

    Interested in learning more about how you can publish with UTP? Just click on Publish with UTP on the left hand menu and you’ll be taken directly to information on Higher Education, Scholarly Publishing, and Rotman/UTP Publishing mandates and contacts.

    Found the book you were looking for? Buying directly from UTP Publishing has never been easier. Simply click Add to Cart and proceed to checkout.

    Are you a course instructor or professor looking for an exam copy? We are pleased to offer Electronic Examination Copies. Imagine receiving an exam copy almost the same day! Just click Request an Exam Copy on any book page and follow the prompts to receive a free PDF that you can access for up to 30 days.

    Are you a member of the media? Click Media & Journal Copies to learn more about how you can request a review copy and sign up for our media announcements.

    Interested in acquiring translation or foreign rights? Or seeking permission to reprint copyrighted materials? Our Rights & Permissions page has everything you need to get started.

    Wondering when the next UTP event will be in your community? Be sure to regularly check our Events Calendar!

    Want to receive UTP catalogues and to stay informed? Anyone can Subscribe to our emails and e-newsletters. Just look for the Stay Informed tab, or follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Delicious, or Flickr. The UTP Blog is where customers and authors alike can come to see pictures from events, learn about the most recent awards and prizes, find information about upcoming conferences, read reviews, and share our successes.

  • Watching YouTube with Dr. Strangelove

    Four years ago when I started to contemplate writing a book about YouTube I was aware that Internet companies can grow and fade faster than crocuses in the Spring. Would there be any Tube to watch by the time the lengthy process of research, writing, and publishing a scholarly book ran its course? Google snapped up the young Internet start-up and made history with what was to become one of the fastest growing Web properties. While the future remains unwritten, it is clear that YouTube will be around for a while, and more importantly, amateur online videography is now a permanent part of media culture.

    This new UTP blog will follow current events in the world of online video and YouTube. Each day the world press brings new stories to our mailboxes about online video, and here we will ponder the social, economic, and political consequences of this rapidly growing new medium. How big is online video? Google reported in May 2009 that every minute sees 20 hours of video material uploaded to YouTube.

    Cisco reports that 90 per cent of consumer Internet traffic (which makes up the lion's share of total Internet traffic) will be video by 2013. What this indicates is that in the very near future the majority of our Internet use will involve engagement with online video. Just as television and cinema became the central focus of the audience in the 20th century, and evolved into the premier arbiter of fame and celebrity, so too is the moving image becoming the central focus of the online audience. We see an early indication of this in Australia, where the most common online activity at work is watching YouTube. We would rather watch than work.

    What is it about YouTube that has our attention? Consider some of the events that have put online video in the news thus far in March. Two 14-year-old American high school students were arrested for exploding homemade bombs. They learned to make the bombs by watching YouTube videos on the subject. As I note in Watching YouTube, there are thousands of videos on YouTube that show Americans making and exploding homemade bombs. This is a peculiar aspect of American culture that has received little attention in media, anthropology, and popular culture studies.

    Meanwhile, a Georgia man was arrested by the Atlanta police department after posting a video to YouTube in which he held a sign that said 'Elton John must die.' It is unclear as yet as to whether the man suffers from mental illness or is just another homophobic religious bigot.

    Yet another American, known to the press as 'JihadJane', was arrested on terrorism charges after being approached by a Taliban recruiter who made contact via the comments section of a YouTube video. Indicative of the addictive nature of our new networked screen culture, a South Korean couple were so absorbed in an online video game that they left their child to starve to death.

    Not all the stories are as dark as these, and there are many positive aspects to the rise of amateur online videography.

    Each week I will explore the cultural significance of online videos and examine our collective addiction to watching YouTube.

    Dr. Strangelove

  • Celebrating UTP's Books Seven Days a Week

    This past week University of Toronto Press has hosted five book events and attended two conferences, making it a very busy week for Scholarly Publishing!

    The Society of Cinema and Media Studies conference in Los Angeles, from March 18th to March 21st, was very well attended. UTP represented well for Canadian book publishers, and our presence, with our Italian cinema titles, was appreciated.

    A representative from UTP also attended the Medieval Academy of America conference at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, from March 18th to March 20th. Our attendance at this conference forms a long-standing tradition.

    This past week also saw events for some new and noteworthy books:

    On Wednesday, March 17th, the Royal Canadian Military Institute hosted an evening with Captain John Nelson Rickard on the topic of his new title, The Politics of Command: Lieutenant-General A.G.L. McNaughton and the Canadian Army, 1939-1943. Speaking to a full house of approximately 50 members, Rickard received a warm reception, followed by a lively question period.

    Also on Wednesday, March 17th, Lana Wylie spoke to the Hamilton branch of the Canadian International Council about her new book, Perceptions of Cuba: Canadian and American Policies in Comparative Perspective. The event was informative for the large audience that attended.

    On Thursday, March 18th, Michael J. Prince, author of Absent Citizens: Disability Politics and Policy in Canada, spoke at York University for Access Centre - Able York. A steady stream of students came to the event to listen to and discuss disability policy with Prince in the comfortable, intimate, sit-down setting.

    Thursday, March 18th also featured John Borrows, the 2010 Donald Creighton Lecturer, speaking at the University of Toronto, Department of History. Renowned expert on Canadian and U.S. aboriginal law, as well as author of Canada's Indigenous Constitution, Recovering Canada, and the forthcoming Drawing Out Law, John Borrows spoke about the historical and legal interpretations of Canadian aboriginals. The event was attended by both historians and students of law.

    On Friday, March 19th, Barbara Williams attended an afternoon with the Women's Art Association of Peterborough to speak about her book, A Gentlewoman in Upper Canada: The Journals, Letters, and Art of Anne Langton. Anne Langton, landscape and miniature portrait artist, was one of the first women to settle in Peterborough with her family when they first moved to Canada in 1837.

    That wraps up UTP's busy week.

    If we didn't see you at any of these events, we hope to see you soon!

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