An anthropological introduction to YouTube (2008)

by Dr. Michael Wesch

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Date Added: 9 years ago.

Documentary Description

This fascinating presentation An Anthropological Introduction to YouTube was forwarded to me the other day. Anthropologist Dr Michael Wesch presented at the Library of Congress on how YouTube has led to the development of new forms of self expression.

He explains how the video creators seem to be spreading happiness and how a video of his, The Machine Is Us/ing Us, got to number one on YouTube on SuperBowl Sunday despite every advertisers’ video being uploaded on that day.

“As an anthropologist I think of media differently as most people out there – I don’t see it as content, nor tools of communication – I think of media as mediating human relationships. That’s important: when media changes then human relationships changes.”

Dr. Wesch:

"Presented at the Library of Congress, June 23rd 2008. This was tons of fun to present. I decided to forgo the PowerPoint and instead worked with students to prepare over 40 minutes of video for the 55 minute presentation. This is the result.
more info: http://mediatedcultures.net"

0:00 Introduction, YouTube's Big Numbers
2:00 Numa Numa and the Celebration of Webcams
5:53 The Machine is Us/ing Us and the New Mediascape
12:16 Introducing our Research Team
12:56 Who is on YouTube?
13:25 What's on Youtube? Charlie Bit My Finger, Soulja Boy, etc.
17:04 5% of vids are personal vlogs addressed to the YouTube community, Why?
17:30 YouTube in context. The loss of community and "networked individualism" (Wellman)
18:41 Cultural Inversion: individualism and community
19:15 Understanding new forms of community through Participant Observation
21:18 YouTube as a medium for community
23:00 Our first vlogs
25:00 The webcam: Everybody is watching where nobody is ("context collapse")
26:05 Re-cognition and new forms of self-awareness (McLuhan)
27:58 The Anonymity of Watching YouTube: Haters and Lovers
29:53 Aesthetic Arrest
30:25 Connection without Constraint
32:35 Free Hugs: A hero for our mediated culture
34:02 YouTube Drama: Striving for popularity
34:55 An early star: emokid21ohio
36:55 YouTube's Anthenticity Crisis: the story of LonelyGirl15
39:50 Reflections on Authenticity
41:54 Gaming the system / Exposing the System
43:37 Seriously Playful Participatory Media Culture (featuring Us by blimvisible: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_yxHKg...
47:32 Networked Production: The Collab. MadV's "The Message" and the message of YouTube
49:29 Poem: The Little Glass Dot, The Eyes of the World
51:15 Conclusion by bnessel1973
52:50 Dedication and Credits (Our Numa Numa dance)

The Numa Numa quote is from *Douglas* Wolk (not Gary Wolk as I mistakenly said in the talk).

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