An Anthropological Introduction to YouTube

I’m not done with this yet, but so far it’s brilliant.

On June 23rd, Professor Michael Wesch, who teaches anthropology at Kansas State University, delivered an hour-long presentation at the Library of Congress. The talk, entitled “An Anthropological Introduction to YouTube,” covers everything from the Numa Numa dance to McLuhan. Definitely worth taking the time to watch, if you’re at all interested in the internet, cultural anthropology and digital ethnography.

An overview and timeline of the topics covered:

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)
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)

One thought on “An Anthropological Introduction to YouTube

  1. Jake Eakle says:

    Hey Kadam,
    Just watched this all the way through, it\’s quite awesome. Thanks for pointing it out, and good luck with your foray into the blagotron.

    The video to Who\’s Gonna Save My Soul was also utterly incredible.

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