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Seven interactive essays on digital nonlinear storytelling
edited by Matt Soar & Monika Gagnon

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Principles in Practice: Alexandra Juhasz's Learning from YouTube

Alexandra Juhasz’s “video book” Learning from YouTube is a notable example of both a cultural attractor and activator which was authored in Scalar and published by the MIT Press.  Juhasz leverages Scalar’s capacities for the incorporation of multiple media forms in the construction and execution of Learning from YouTube.  Unlike a traditional printed book which must rely on text-based description or screenshots of the moving-image media being discussed, Juhasz tightly integrates video and other media directly into the text itself.  As she describes in its introductory video, YouTube operates as the subject of the video book, but also its form, content, method, problem and solution.  Furthermore, she dialogically positions content from a number of sources, including other scholars, her students, users of YouTube, and readers of the book; in so doing, Learning from YouTube dynamically “activate” both the audiences of her students and her the readers.

Juhasz employs text and video combinations she terms “texteos” into carefully choreographed arrangements to construct her analysis of YouTube, its successes and its failures.  The resultant book productively challenges traditional notions of the “book” itself, as well as conventional models of publication and authorship.  Learning from YouTube exists only in an online form, and, given its rigorous integration of video content, a bound edition would be impossible to produce.  Juhasz’s work is exemplary of the potential of platforms such as Scalar for their potential as conduits for transmedia production and serves as an informative case study of the constraints of differing modes of publication.

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