@Civic Paths: Patricia Lange

Patricia Lange, , spoke at Civic Paths this past week. Her talk centered on YouTube vloggers and a genre of video loosely classified as “rants” or “raves”. In particular, Lange talks about youth deployment of the mode of discourse . Beyond viewing these as either ineffectual (as prior research on rants sees them in a negative light, with the ranter as someone who removes themselves from society) or as the video equivalent of “flaming” a messageboard, Lange defines rants as basically taking issue with a problem and argues that there is are positive effects as these types of videos invoke some kinds of polemics. ┬áLange identifies different genres of rants, focusing on the emotional, problem-centric rant. Lange is particularly interested in rants where people complain about YouTube and her study focuses on analyzing a series of 35 such videos and their comments.

YouTube offers a space for youth to get angry about controversial topics which are difficult to talk about in real-life spaces. These rants often contains rational arguments, which seek to informing others, build solidarity, and perhaps inspire action. Underlying these rants is the notion that things cannot improve without complaining about current conditions, which offers a bridge into thinking about rants as a part of the civic engagement process. Lange left us with a variety of questions, such as:

  • What do we make of serial ranters?
  • How do we define a video as a rant and not
  • What are the differences between YouTube rants versus other kinds of rants, particularly when positioning it as a form of civic engagement?
  • How do we analyze rants across infrastructures?

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