So here I sit on a Saturday afternoon in Parker, CO reading about Martin Luther (yes for class, but I actually really like the book! Call me a nerd, go ahead I deserve it!), when I hear from the upstairs computer, “Hi my name is Gary and my job today is to fix this pipe.” You see, we have a big leak in our underground sprinkler system; apparently a pipe burst. My husband, Mike, who is cheap but not necessarily handy, has decided to fix this himself. He was successful while I was in MN with a smaller sprinkler system job and is feeling confident. Now, he knows nothing about underground sprinklers except that they mean that we don’t have to drag out hoses and you can have them on a timer to save money (see above description of Mike). But he is VERY technologically savvy (working in the field) and confidently tells me that he can do this because he is sure that someone has put a “how-to” of pipe replacement on YouTube. Sure enough after about only five minutes of searching, he finds the exact video of what he needs to do and is off the hardware store with his list of supplies some stranger told him to buy.
This is part of the phenomena that Michael Wesch addresses in his YouTube sensation Web 2.0. While some see YouTube as a wasteland, it probably saved us $100 today. Some guy knew that he could teach others to do simple home repairs and save them money and time. He did this not for money or fame but simply because he could and probably feels good about it. Maybe not completely altruistic, but there is an element there, don’t you think? He loved his unknown neighbor enough to do this.
This type of user generated content was unheard of ten years ago. To get help with this we would have either 1) live near one of our parents (which we do not) or 2) have a neighbor who knew about this stuff with the time to help. Wesch addresses the connectivity of YouTube and how it is altering how we interact in cyberspace as well as with each other. So my husband learns to do this on YouTube, but tomorrow could help a next door neighbor with this same task. That unknown lawn guy just connected two people in Parker, CO! Cool huh?