User-generated online video (UGOV) is a dynamic information and communication technology (ICT) that may be a useful tool for enhancing interactive expression and democratic discourse. Our study examines the potential for UGOV to contribute to the virtual public sphere by analyzing both the content of YouTube videos and responses to them by YouTube users. We focus on issues of regional identity, levels of engagement and creativity. The study shows that there is an important connection between geo-political identity and issues of public concern. It also reveals that while there is potential for UGOV to play a part in a creative public sphere, viewer engagement with the content is affected by the style and quality of presentation as well as the content.
Proceedings of the International Communication Association Annual Conference (ICA 2008), May 22-26, 2008, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.