9/23 – Users Like You? – Grayson Begier

In Users Like You? Theorizing Agency in User-Generated Content, van Dijck urges readers to recognize the switch from ‘users’ to ‘producers’ or ‘co-creators’ we see on user-generated content platforms. He explores the meaning of user agency as a complex concept by understanding the user’s cultural role as a member of active engagement and participation, but also as an economic perspective as these ‘users’ are now producers and creators. As a society, van Dijck wants us to better understand how these socio-economic and technological transformations impact the power struggle between media conglomerates. Our society used to use media platforms for leisure, but now people are using them as a platform for a career.


In his study, van Dijck brings attention to the popular video-sharing site, YouTube. He focuses on the ‘you’ of YouTube which serves as a metaphor for content creators but also data providers. Now users are serving as content creators rather than actual companies. Users can post, comment, like, critique, advertise, and promote. The role of users has shifted and as a result it impacts the platforms. Back in the day, people used YouTube to watch music videos or watch funny viral videos, but now people are making a name for themselves. For example, Emma Chamberlain, an influencer who found fame with her YouTube videos. A few years ago, Chamberlain was just a regular high school student from California. Last week she was the host for the MET gala red carpet. She started by making fun vlogs on YouTube and now she has 10.8 million subscribers. She’s able to profit off her own content on YouTube and other platforms like Instagram and TikTok. This relates to why van Dijck believes people are driven to contribute content on various platforms. He believes people view social media platforms to follow through with their career goals.

I found this article very interesting because I’ve been able to see the evolution of YouTube as I grow up. Like I said before, YouTube used to be a site for funny videos like “Charlie Bit My Finger” or to watch music videos. Now, there’s an emergence of content creators all over platforms because they’re able to make a name for themselves and profit accordingly. The study left me to question how far fame can go via social media platforms? While so many people are eager to get famous or go viral, do the same opportunities exist without the Internet?


One thought on “9/23 – Users Like You? – Grayson Begier

  1. Grayson, your summary and analysis of this article was really interesting and made sense. It has been fascinating to watch normal, everyday people rise to stardom through accessible/free platforms, such as Instagram and YouTube. Granted, you must own a technological device, have access to WiFi, and be digitally literate to be active on these platforms, but there are not as high of barriers to entry for virality as there used to be. I do not think the same opportunities would exist for average people to become famous if the Internet did not exist. It will be interesting to see the impact of Internet celebrities/influencers over the next couple of decades.

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