Anthropology of Youtube

August 24, 2008

Michael Wesch is a professor of Anthropology at Kansas State University and this is an hour long lecture he gave at the Library of Congress on the anthropology of Youtube – it’s fascinating and really worth taking the time to work through. He compares and contrasts the decline of community in the ‘real world’ with the rise of online communities of ‘networked individualism’. Some of my favourite ideas from the lecture are:

Media is mediating human relationships – when media change, human relations change
Every time you talk you are sizing up the context, except in this case (talking to camera) you don’t know what the context is = context collapse
Anonymity+physical distance+rare and ephemeral dialogue+freedom to experience humanity without fear or anxiety
We crave connection but perceive connection as constraint- Youtube allows that connection
We are all producers…producing ourselves…re-taking identity…editing our own histories…playing with identities….who is the real you?