The number of clips streamed on YouTube stretches to the sublime. This chapter provides close readings of popular YouTube videos with the aim of identifying broader generic features. YouTube’s special qualities derive partly from the clips’ brevity and the ways they’re often encountered through exchange with others: a clip interests us through its associations with colleagues, family, friends, and communities. Often clips get forwarded because there’s an intensity of affect that can’t be assimilated, either humorous or biting. Some of the aesthetic features that define YouTube include (1) pulse, reiteration, and other forms of musicality, (2) irreality and weightlessness, (3) scale and graphic values, (4) unusual causal relations, (5) parametric volubility and intertextuality, (6) sardonic humor and parody, (7) condensation, and (8) formal replication of the web.
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