Thursday, 15 August 2013

The Architecture and Power of YouTube

I am testing my skills as a Flanuer (Barnes, 1997) through the social network of YouTube.

Upon reflecting what architecture is, I came across a YouTube video entitled simply ‘Architecture’ (MAYAnMAYA, 2009). The video said that architecture was simply the name we gave to the principles that make up a certain thing or object. If this thing happened to be a ‘network,’ then I would suggest that the basic principles that all networks have may be:

  • Participants
  • Communication
  • Rewards

YouTube is very much set-up in this way. There are thousands of participants, or ‘Youtubers,’ all over the world, from all different walks of life. They communicate by posting various types of videos and sometimes even commenting on other’s videos that appeal to them. The rewards system in YouTube can also be seen as the power relationship. Theresa Petray (2013), explained in the second week’s lecture that there were three different types of relationship in power; Dominant, where power is given by those in fear of another; Competition, where power is envied by someone who does not have as much power as another; and Cooperation, where power is shared equally.
YouTube has a competition relationship of power. This can be seen through the participants option of ‘liking’ a certain video that is uploaded or ‘subscribing’ to the participant, as to keep up-to-date and receive notification when that that member uploads another video. Members are able to ‘like’ or ‘dislike’ videos and comments that are made.  The more ‘likes’ a video receives, the more likely that that particular video will appear on YouTube’s home page as a featured or ‘trending’ video. It appears to me, that the more likes or subscribers that a YouTuber receives, the more likely they are to upload and put more effort into the process of the making of the videos.

As well as receiving notification about a certain fellow Youtuber’s ‘recent activity,’ a participants ‘Home Page’ also displays links to other videos that the member may also enjoy. Information is gathered from the members search history in YouTube, and lists of videos that have similar topics are displayed.

As an over all view, YouTube connects participants form all over the world through either, subscriptions, comments or similar viewing history.


Barnes, G. (1997). Passage of the cyber-flaneur. Retrieved from :                

Petray, T. (2013). BA1002: Our Space:Networks, Narratives, and the Making of Place, Week 2 Notes (PowerPoint). Retrived from:

MAYAnMAYA. (2009). Arcitecture. Retrieved from:

Image Credits

The "Channelization" of YouTube (Image). (2013). Retrieved from:


  1. Mikayla Giuffrida16 August 2013 at 13:37

    Your blog is very interesting and I particularly like how you linked to that video on architecture. The idea that architecture really is just principles that make up a certain thing or object is an idea that does not regularly surface. It helped change my understanding of what architecture really encompasses, not just ‘buildings’ as first comes to mind. From this, you developed your own perception on what basic principles are involved in networking which clearly highlight your engagement with the two concepts.
    As discussed by Teresa Petray, power is “a relational effect of social interaction” and this is clearly evident in the way YouTube functions (Petray, 2013). YouTube and the success and failures of its contributors are tightly intertwined with the notion of power.


    Petray, T. (2013). BA1002: Our Space: Networks, Narratives, and the Making of Place, Week 2 Notes (PowerPoint). Retrieved:

  2. As a regular user of YouTube, it was very interesting to gain insight as to how you view this program both structurally and socially. You made good points when taking into account the architecture of YouTube and the basic principles that are the base of this this site as a social network. You also mentioned the display of YouTube, commenting on features such as the Home Page, Recent Activity and Like and Dislike buttons, which all encourage social interaction with other users. This also relates to the issue of power and competition between channels, where power is shared equally. However some users have more power over others, due to the amount of attention there channel receives, which usually have more effort put in and are more consistently updated. YouTube is a virtual “breeding ground for the aimless roaming Flaneur” (Barnes 1997), and although not sprawling with detail, your blog seems to have analysed the social aspects of one of the most popular social networks.
    Keep up the good work.