Henry Jenkins, Director of the Program of Comparative Media Studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, imagines a new form of academic unit where Departments “operat[e] more like YouTube or Wikipedia, allowing for the rapid deployment of scattered expertise and the dynamic reconfiguration of fields.” He calls it the “YouNiversity” where “we don't so much need a faculty as we need an intellectual network.” The methodology lies in an analogy. “Much as engineering students learn by taking apart machines and putting them back together, many of these teens learned how media work by taking their culture apart and remixing it.” The filmography of The Economics of the Yasuní Initiative adopts the spirit of the YouNiversity.
As an assistant to Professor Vogel since 2005 – the year that YouTube went online – I have seen first-hand how video-sharing has reconfigured learning. YouTube economizes the most precious of all resources: time. One can quickly gain familiarity with a diversity of topics through clips, some less than a minute long, and then lever those clips into classroom discussion. Nevertheless, the rich reservoir of the YouTube site raises the most mundane of questions: which clips?
Like so many questions in economics, the answer depends on the purpose. The purpose of The Economics of the Yasuní Initiative is to persuade the public that the carbon-rich-but-economically-poor countries must be compensated to get them through the bottleneck of a cowboy economy. Entertainment is key to persuasion.