An anthropological introduction to YouTube


[clapping] (Michael)
Right, I just want to
start out with a little story, in 1989 just as Tim Burner is
sort of launching the foundation to what will become
the World Wide Web, ah Kevin Kelly is invited by
ABC to consult about where to go with this internet thing. You know, this internet is
starting to get traction and ABC wanted to know
what to do about it. And Kevin Kelly gave them the
best pitch he could but ABC wasn’t buying into it. In fact later Stephen
Weiswasser suggested: “You are not going to
turn passive consumers into active trollers on
the- on the internet.” So we can kind of look
at the score card today, we check where we
stand right now. In 1948 ABC started broadcasting and they became the
third network to do so, so they were like
third major network. So if you think of this it was
60 years ago. So it’s 2008 minus
1948, 60 years. Those 3 networks, if they had
been broadcasting everyday for every hour of the
day for 60 years, there’d be over 1.5 million
hours of programming, which is a lot, but YouTube produced more
in the past 6 months. And they did it
without producers, they did it with just like,
people like you and me, anybody who’s every uploaded
anything to YouTube. And so on YouTube today
there’s over 9000 hours that are uploaded everyday. It’s the equivalent of almost
400 always-on TV channels. But it’s not really 400
always-on TV channels because it’s actually
200,000 3 minute videos. And trust me, I’ve
watched about 8, 000 videos in the past 3 weeks
and this is not “mass media.” It- [laughs] a large
percentage of this is meant for less than a
hundred viewers so it’s really an
interesting phenomenon. And 88% of the content that’s
coming through the front door is new and original. It’s actually better
than the networks do. [laughter] So, So that’s a story
of the numbers and this is really a story about
new forms of expression and new forms of community and new forms of identity emerging. And so instead, I want to start
with another little story. And this one instead
we’re gonna start with a Moldoven
Pop song from 2003, and everyone’s groaning
[laughs] So this this was
launched in 2003. It became a big hit
in Italy in 2004. It spread throughout
Europe latter that year. Then travels over to
Japan where it mixes with the culture of animation where people start
making videos of this. This- one of these videos
travels all the way to the suburbs of New Jersey
and there Gary Browsma, looks into his webcam
and says “Alo.” [laughs] And this is ike
this great moment, I’ll just let you hear
the music for a second. Can you hear it?
[laughs] Okay. And there’s this great moment, Ah Gary Wilk has written
about this, he says: “Browsma’s video single
handedly justifies the existence of webcams.” He goes on to say, ah “cause here he is sitting in this dismal looking
suburban bedroom but he’s really going for it, flirting with the camera, utterly giving over
to the- the music. It’s a movie of someone who’s
having the time of his life, wants to share his
joy with everyone, and doesn’t care what
anyone else thinks.” [laughter] So this video obviously
becomes a huge phenomenon. Um, some people have suggested that it’s been viewe
600 million times. I’m not sure what the
proper statistic would be. Ah but here you
see some of the… A teenager from New
Jersey is finding himself in email boxes everywhere. And folks, this one
is the real deal. (Michael)
So he’s on the Today Show, he’s on VH1’s Best Week Ever. He’s like the new cyber
star compared to the ah, the Star Wars kid. Now meanwhile, this
is February 2005, and meanwhile YouTube
is just being created. So Chad, Steve, and Jawed
were just registering it. And on April 23, 2005
they launched YouTube, they have the first video
is posted on that day. And this is really interesting
because it actuallycreates a new type of platform,
up to this time it’s actually really difficult to upload video to the web. And suddenly everybody can join
in this new Numa Numa Craze and they did. As you can see,
over 58,000 ah, videos have now been uploaded and you’ll see people from all over the world just joining in this dance. And this then becomes
something sort of important, what’s going on. And again Gary Wilk
has this great line when he’s talking about
this he starts, he says, “It starts to look less
like an infectious joke then a new cultural order. These kids aren’t mocking
the Numa, Numa guy, they’re veneration him. And they’re beautiful to see, because they’re replicating
and spreading his happiness. They’re following a
ritual that’s meaningful, if not yet venerable. They are learning the dance, lip-singing the song, documenting their
performance just so, making it available
for the world to see.” So I kind of like to think of
Gary as the first guy on the dance floor of
this global mixer and- [laughs] and there’s a lot more
going on than just dancing. And you know, you
think about the joy that people are expressing and the fun that they’re having a- as they do this dance and
I like to think of it as more than just a dance,
it’s a celebration. It’s a celebration of
new forms of empowerment. You- you know anybody
with a webcam now has a stronger
voice and presence. Ah it’s a celebration of
new forms of community, ah and types of community that
we’ve really never seen before, global connections,
transcending space and time. It’s a celebration of new
and unimaginable possiblities. And you know, you can
say this is all hype. Like these are just people
dancing and having fun, but think about what
they’re dancing in front of. They’re dancing in front of
about a billion boxes in places all over the world that are networked together and allows us to connect in ways we’ve never connected before. And in fact, they can
actually invent new ways to connect with each other and it’s getting easier
and easier to do so. And s som- that’s what
I like to think that this is really just
a very important moment. [music continues] So I tried to capture some of
the changes that are going on on the web with
this video last year, that about half
of you have seen. This is, “The
Machine is Using Us.” And I started with text and thinking about how it was different than a world based in text. I could have started with TV, it might have been
interesting video as well. Um but I started with-
with ah text on paper and what it meant to move
to digital text and what that move really means. I’m just gonna speed this up so you don’t have to
watch the whole thing. Um but in general what I
was trying to get at was when you unpack the impacts
of the ah of digital text and you think about the separation of form and content: blogs, wikis, tagging,
all of these things, it leads to a necessity of
what the web is all about. It’s not just about
information but it’s actually about
linking people and it’s about linking
people in ways that we’ve never
been linked before. And in ways that we
can’t even predict cause it’s changing
almost every 6 months now there’s a new tool out
there that connects us in some new way. So I suggested at the end of
that that we’re going to need to rethink a few things. And as an anthropologist
I sort of see everything as kind of connected so
I really have the sense that we’re gonna have to
rethink all of these things. And I actually have a theory
about each one of these if you want to pin me
down in questions, even about love
[laughs] So um what really surprised
me after the video was- and I think what really
drives home the point is not the video itself but
what happened afterwards. And so I uploaded this
on a Wednesday and it was the Wednesday
before Super Bowl Sunday, that becomes important and
I’ll tell you why in a second. So I actually ah made it by
myself and this kind of- frankly it’s not a
very nice computer, um in the basement of
my house here in- in Kansas. And I was working alone except
for I was actually sort of collaborating with a guy on the
Ivory Coast of Africa because he had uploaded
some of his music, I’m a horrible musician but
he had some great music he uploaded it and he put a creative comments license on it. Which means that I could
use it for my video. So we were able to collaborate across time and space essentially. So this is then on Friday,
so 2 days after I uploaded it, you can see it had 253 views and I had to take the
screen shot because as an anthropologist
if your work reaches more than 200 people,
this is a really big deal. [laughter] so- so I took the
screen shot and I actually sent it to my department head you know, put it
in the tenure file. And ah- and ah
that was on ah Friday, um Saturday it had jumped to
over a thousand and I thought, ‘okay, something’s
going on here because it was actually growing exponentially,’ and I could actually see
the count speeding up, it was going
faster and faster. And so I started looking around
on the web to try and figure out what was going on and
I found it at digg.com. So what digg.com is, digg is a place where
ah it’s basically like ‘user-generated filtering.’ So what you just saw
in the video was user-generated content. This is like user-generated
filtering where the users can get together and they
can give it a thumbs up if they like it,
if they digg it, or if they don’t like
it they can bury it. And the stuff that gets dug up
is up on the front page and here you can actually see it’s
coming out to the front page by this user-generated
filtering process and then several thousand
more people see it. And then the same thing’s
going on over on del.icio.us where a lot of
people are tagging it. So do you guys know
how tagging works? They’re watching the video here, they can push a button
and it tags it for them, basically it bookmarks it but those bookmarks are shared with the world. And when they tag it
with a word like web2.0 it goes back to del.icio.us
and the web2.0 list. And there’s a lot of
people actually sort of
watching this list, who are interested in web2.0, or what ever it is
you’re interested in, you watch that list and you’ll
see these things appear. So this is user-generated
organization, but because this stuff is
actually being distributated out and coming right on to people’s front page in many cases through RUSSfeeds and
this type of things, it’s also user-generated
distribution. So you think about this
massive media machine that we’ve existed
with for so long and the massive
distribution system and organization
system and all this, there’s now a user-generated
alternative to all this and that’s what really moves
this video around the web. So there’s also, going throughout the
blogoshere and it’s- this is user-generated commentary ah but
the cool thing about that is that each time
somebody blogs it, it actually scores a point
you might say on Technorati. And so Technorati is actually
counting the number of times people are actually
blogging these things and keeping track of these so
there’s a ranking system. So this is now Super
Bowl Sunday Morning and it actually appeared
in the top five and I was just totally
blown away by this. But we knew this was ah Super
Bowl Sunday so we’re thinking, ‘oh gosh, by you know,
7 o’clock tonight all the viral videos
from the Super Bowl, all the commercials are just gonna bombard the web and we’re gonna be blasted
out of the top 20. So we’re just hitting
refresh, refresh, refresh [laughter] my wife and I are just
sitting there hitting refresh, refresh, and we’re hoping it will get to number one and it actually did. So by noon that day it was the number one
video in the blogosphere, um and then actually the next
day ah most of the videos were from the Super Bowl but standing on top of
that ah was my video. So here we had these
commercials which, on average, cost $3.6 million to produce and
get out on the web and my little video, which
cost nothing to produce was sitting on top. So there’s really something
interesting going on here. This was taken some time ago, you can see it had almost 5 million views at that time, ah over 13 thousand people
were writing about it, ah it went on the local news,
and at which point she noted, ‘who knew anthropology
could be so much fun.’ [laughter] And there you sa- you saw
the interduction earlier, it was wired and translated
into 12 different languages within a matter of months, ah went all over the
world from there. So we’re really living
in a different kind of mediascape here. YouTube is a part of
it but it’s actually- you have to think about
the whole mediascape, you can’t just
think about YouTube if you’re thinking about the anthropology of YouTube. And so my video is an example
where: I posted it on YouTube, I sent it out on email, it travels then through
the blogosphere, it goes through facebook and
myspace and digg and so on, and this is showing that there’s this really int- interesting, integrated mediascape that we now live in. And at the center of
this mediascape is us. And that makes things
especially interesting. And as an anthropologist
I- I think of media slightly differently
than most people. I don’t think of
it as- as content. I think of- and I don’t even think of it
as tools of communication. I think of media as mediating
human relationship and that’s important because
when media change then human relationships change and that’s where the
anthropology of this comes in. And that’s why I wanted to
suggest that we’re gonna have to rethink all of these things, including ourselves. So, as a- what we’ve been
doing for the past 2 years now with my students, I have about 10 graduate- or
10 undergraduate students ah every spring and
we just launch into a study of YouTube each spring. And…I’ll show
kind of what we do um this is just some of the quantitative work that we do for example, like we’ll
watch a YouTube video on this part of the
screen here and we’ll have a data
uploading thing here and the students can
upload at anytime, anytime they can be taking
notes on the videos, and all that goes to a data
base that we can then analyze. And ah just to give you a
sense of who is on YouTube, it’s kind of interesting because this is about digital native but it’s very interesting to look at the- the ah- age ranges here. If you look at 35 and older
about 25% of videos feature someone 35 and older, which is actually the
same as the teens, 12 to 17, the really strong
group presence on YouTube happens to be in the
18 to 24 age group and also the young adult so,
kind of 25 to 34. Those are the most- the
strongest age groups, over 50% of videos have an
18 to 24 year old in them. Now, what’s on YouTube? This is where things
get kind of interesting. [music starts] So I’m just gonna give
you a quick little tour of what’s out there. So here’s a 92 year old, Ivering Fields, singing about YouTube, there’s a lot of songs
about YouTube on YouTube if you’re interested in those. But the most commonly
uploaded videos on YouTube are actually home videos. And this is a famous example
that many of you may have seen. Most of- most of the videos
are actually meant for less than a hundred viewers. Ooo. Ouch. OUCH! OUCH Charlie! OOOUCH! Charlie, that really hurt! [laughter]. (Michael)
Now what’s really interesting about this sort of participatory
nature of YouTube is this has been re-done or remixed
about ah about 2,000 time. Charlie! Ouch! Oow. Charlie! Oooch! Charlie! [laughter] That really hurt,
and it’s still hurting. [laughter] (Michael)
Some of these remixes actually get really sophisticated so here’s somebody who’s actually remixed it using free-d loops if
you know what that is. I ‘ll show you what
that is in a second. But there’s actually the simple- simplicity of drag-
and-drop editing, almost like cut and paste work with video and audio can
lead to all sorts of things. So for example this is a 16
year old, Dion Cortez Whey, who created this song in the
beginning of 2007 using this program here. And then he uploaded this little
video to YouTube and myspace. And some of you know this song. So he uploaded this little
video and it starts to spread. And it just goes
and goes and goes. And then pretty soon like it seems like everybody in the
world is doing this dance. Including prisoners
in the Philippines. That’s a real video, these are MIT professors
and graduate students studying participatory culture. [laughter] And here’s some high school
teachers getting in on it. But this just goes
and goes and goes. It’s just a complete phenomenon. This is the Harry
Potter version. A Lion King version. And so these are just
massively massive generation of remixes about this. This is the Sponge Bob version,
it just goes on and on. [music continues] K, so that was April 2007, August 2007- by August 2007
he’s signed by a major label because he’s a total
phenomenon at this time. And- and when they made
the official video through the record label, they
sort of made fun of themselves. The record label made fun
of themselves because they’d been been blind-sided by
this user-generated content had become bigger than
anything they had produced. So they produced
this video and actually you can see
it’s a total commentary on how it actually
emerged through the web. And then finally
sort of catching up. [music] Just a few more
notes about this. Um as you can see, it’s
all about new media. But this ended up 7
weeks up at the top of the billboard of top 100. Um not bad for
something that started off as user-generated content. And it was also nominated
for a Grammy Award. [laughter] So here’s what
really interesting that out of almost 10,000 videos on YouTube out of the 200,000 are addressed to the
YouTube community everyday. They are videos like this. Hi there- Yo, quick side job,
Monkeydo1212 here. Hey YouTube, this is Pri- So just thinking about why you know, we can start with- with some studies
of um the lack- the loss of community over time, so Robert Putnam
is famous for this, but a lot of other people have been looking at this as well. Um and you know, some of the
explanations that are around for this general sense of a loss
of community are things like, when women joined the
workforce there’s- there’s suddenly less free time, um moving from the
corner grocery store to these large super
markets and ultimately these huge big box stores. There are a number of
things contributing to this. And suddenly we’re in these- these massive communities of suburbia where we’re
disconnected and connected only by- by roadways and TVs. And the TVs themselves
are isolating. So there’s many different
analyses of why culture- of why community
has been in decline. Um and mean while new forms of networks and
communities are emerging. So for example, we now have all
these cell phones around and Barry Wellman has this great
ah comment where he talks about moving from place-to-place to person-to-person
connectivity, ah a phenomenon he calls
‘networked individualism.’ So you think about this
state that we’re in now, where we’re increasingly networked but also individualized. Ah we- there’s this cultural
inversion going on where we’re becoming
increasingly individual but many of us still have
this very strong value and- and desire for community. So the more
individual we become, the more we long
for this community. Um we become
increasingly independent while longing for
stronger relationships. And we see increasingly more
commercialization around us and we long for authenticity. And YouTube comes into the
midst of all this all this. And- and I think the- what we see on YouTube
is shaped by this. This is Robert Putnam’s
comment, he says, ‘My hunch is that meeting
in an electronic forum is not the equivalent of
meeting in a bowling alley.’ And we agree with him and that’s why we had to actually sort of get involved and this is one of my
students, ah this is me. we actually just started
getting on YouTube and participating in this community. This is- in anthropology we call
this participant observation it’s like, it’s the core
of our methodology, you have to experience a
phenomenon to understand it. This is me doing participant
observation in New Guinea and
[laughter] here we are back in- in YouTube. So we went ahead and
introduced ourselves to the YouTube community in the
spring of 2007 with this video. [music] Hey, I’m Mike Wesch. I’m a professor at Kansas
State University and I’m teaching a class called
Digital Ethnography. And ethnography is the
study of a culture and we are studying the
culture of YouTube. So I have a whole team
of students here and I’m gonna take you down
the hall over here, and you’re actually gonna
meet the students and this is kind of important because one of the things we do in anthropology is ah what we call participant observation. that means that we
don’t just observe the things that we’re studying, we actually participate in
the things we’re studying. So the people you’re
gonna meet today in class are people you’re gonna see inside YouTube, and they’re gonna be, you know,
responding to your videos, they’re gonna be posting
questions themselves, they’re gonna be vlogging, they’re gonna be there in the community, right there with you. Alright, hopefully you
can join us online, we’d like to see you around. Ah what else do we
want to tell them? We really need your help. [laughter] Yeah, we really
need your help, just come visit us
online, come talk to us, and we’ll have a good time. And bring your friends. [Laughter] Alright, cool. Bye. Alright, so then we’re thinking
about back to that idea, when media change,
human relations change. We wanted to look at the
actually medium of
community for YouTube, which is primarily the
platform itself but also webcams and screens. We wondered what it is like
to build a community through webcams and screens and that meant actually
participating. And we got this ah
great insight early on as you’ll see from
this student here. You know, I’m, you know, looking at camera and ah, I had a mirror around here to sh- to show you guys but-
oh there it is. This, is what I’m talking
to, not you, this. Well you, but this. I’m talking to you but
for the time being, I don’t know who you are. (Michael)
So if you meditate on
this for just a second and just think about
what this means. Um, first off, you/re- every time you talk on a webcam, you’re talking to some- some
place that’s unknown, you actually don’t know who’s
gonna to be talking back to you. Um so you sort of have an
invisible audience phenomenon. It’s asynchronous so you never know when
they’re going to watch you. And you think about
when you talk, every time you talk you’re- you’re sort of sizing
up the context and in this case you actually don’t
know what the context is. You can be launched into
many many different context, including your video can
be…remixed by somebody. So you don’t actually
know what’s going on. And this is what we came
to call context collapse. And when we started
watching first vlog and did first vlogs ourselves we-it’s like this deep experience of context collapse. The moment you look into a
webcam for the first time and you try to start talking
you have this sense, like, you just don’t know who
you’re talking to and therefore you come
out sounding all awkward. Do- do a search for
first volgs on YouTube and you’ll see what
I’m talking about. And here’s an example
from out first vlogs. Start with mine but
[laughs] Hey!
[laughter] Hey, I’m Mike Wesch. I’m a professor at
Kansas State University- And I actually wore
that fake smile through the whole thing I just- didn’t know what
to do, you know. [laughter] [music]
Hi. [laughs] [laughs]
Hi, my name’s Jessie and… I feel like I should put
a picture of a person. Right here, you
know maybe an eye. It’d be so much better with
this thing blinked and smiled, responded to what I said- This is like the seventh time I tried to tape this [unintelligible]. Okay, so I thought I’d do this
before my roommate gets back and finds me talking to myself. So I am in my closet, um I
feel a little strange out in the family room just talking to what
seems like myself. So… I don’t really know
what to talk about. What do people talk about their
first vlogs and… what do people talk
about anyway. [laughs] [guitar music] (unseen female)
Beautiful. Man I totally glazed past
introducing myself um… [laughs]
Um yeah, oh, yeah, my name is
Mellisa, by the way. Um and I’m a college student. College student, enunciate. Ah so I’m just gonna talk okay? [laughs] And to tell you the
truth I actually spent about 5 minutes deciding how
I was going to wear my hair, back or up, all forming this
identity, this new mask, to my new community. And this is actually
really deep right? Because you have this situation where you’re trying
to form the new mask, you’re new identity in
a space where it seems like everyone is watching
and yet nobody’s there. And so it’s like, it feels like at once the
most private space because it’s your own bedroom
or wherever it might be, but it’s also quite possibly the
most public space on the planet. You know, you think about
the number of people that might actually see this. And so there begins to
be a lot of reflection about self on YouTube
and you can just- it’s a- it’s a great place
to study self and identity if you’re in to that. Um, well I’ll give
you just a little bit of background on this. I think it was Charles Coolie’s
idea, the looking-glass-self. It’s this idea that we actually
know ourselves through, be it through our understanding
of how others understand us. And this is ah,
becomes really complicated and when you’re
looking through a webcam, mediating your life
through this webcam. I’ll show you just one example
and then I’ll add on to that. And you know that other people
are going to be observing you but they’re not right at the
second you’re making your video so…you’re more yourself. So this- this
self-reflections happens on- while they’re looking
through these webcams. But adding to it,
it’s not just the fact that anybody and everybody
might be looking at you through that webcam, it’s also the fact that you yourself might look and see that video again someday. So there’s really this
hyper-self-awareness that’s developing as
people are doing this. (male)
We live in the world
of the instant replay. Around the planet,
all the events are not only being
recorded but replayed. And the amazing thing about
the replay is that it offers the means of recog,
re-cognition. The first time is cognition the second time it’s recognition. And the recognition
is even deeper. I decide to make vlog, not only for myself but for
anyone who cares to watch. Document my transition and um and I’ll be able to look back and I suppose you will too, to see, you knonw, how far
at all I’ve come. So replay offers a deeper
level of awareness than- than the first play. We had the, you know, getting
into some very large matters about the effects of
this new environment, this new electric
environment on man and his awareness of himself. I guess what makes
me so uncomfortable talking on camera it’s like, I ‘m right- I’m looking at my
face and I’m like, good God. [sigh] Cause when I think of myself, I guess I don’t really
think of myself the way I appear to
other people which is… yeah, young, naive…
oh she’s so cute. Cute little girl. Not cute. [laughs] So generally people on YouTube,
when they’re on their ah cameras they’re in a very
self-reflexive kind of mood, and you’ll actually see
that in a lot of the videos. But there’s also this other side
which when we watch YouTube we- we’re generally anonymous,
people can’t see us watching it. And this has its
own impact as well, most famously is probably Luv
Grossman’s observation in time, which he says, “some of the comments
in YouTube make you weep for the future of humanity
just for the spelling alone, never mind the obscenity
and a naked hatred.” [laughter] So- so this is the
actual page I was on when I decided to
make this clip, and I’ll just take you
through what was said here. Um, really interesting dialog. Ah … this is responded by wingman8788:
u guys are so gay. it sucks. Quertyu121: wat the fuck r u
talking about frecklygirl14 says YOUTUBE COMMENTS MAKE ME ANGRY GRRRR And quertyu responds by saying then don’t comment on
youtube u shitstain [laughter] So, there is the anonymity plus
this physical distance plus a rare and ephemeral dialogue creates- enables the possibility
for this type of hatred but there’s something else. That same anonymity, physical distance and rare
and ephemeral dialogue allow people to feel
sort of really relaxed and have this freedom to
experience humanity without fear of social anxiety. You can actually sort
of stare at people and sort of see
them for who they are. It’s slightly
voyeuristic, you know. Um…it allows you to
watch other people, without staring at them, or making them uncomfortable. Because they don’t
see you watching them, you can just watch their video
and it’s really interesting. It’s like this… sociological experiment
where you can just like, see their being,
you can see their person. (Michael)
But you almost get this sense
of, in James Joyce’s terms, of aest- aesthetic arrest
and you get this sense that people are
actually experiencing the sense of being… just totally overwhelmed
by the beauty of the human in front of them. Like people have this really
profound deep connection with other humans
through YouTube that maybe they couldn’t experience in everyday life because they’re not
allowed to stare, because they’re not
allowed to just experience this person as a human being. And so we started looking
at why this might be. And we’re looking at
this cultural inversion, as I mentioned earlier, where we tend to express individualism, independence, and commercialism,
while desiring community, relationships
and authenticity. This is really a
tension that and and as these sort of lonely individuals we cr- we crave this connection, at the same time as individuals we see that connection
as constraint. And what- what we’re seeking
then through technologies often is a form of connection
without constraint, a some way of connecting very
deeply ah without feeling the deep responsibilities
of that deep connection. So YouTube offers
this possibility and what we see on YouTube is people connecting very very deeply. It’s just amazing to me how
powerful this- this medium is. I mean, I’m- I’m sitting- I’m sitting in my living
room here, talking to a camera. My God, the interaction,
it – it’s unbelievable. (male)
This will get you in the mood, so you’re like this
is how it’s done. It’s casual, we just
talk to camera here. I’ll put that there,
see if it helps. I got to figure this
thing out eventually. Just came by to say ah- came by, what do I mean came by I didn’t come by I’m
sitting right here. January was a hard month for me. Right now, I should be preparing
for the birth of my son Zachary. but I’m not, as you guys already know. Hi Mel, I watched
your video and ah I’m sorry I’m running
behind on my schedule here. I was listening to it and
I felt…my tears coming. It’s a big fucking experiment
in getting myself out. We’re all alone, from each other
and by ourselves, and that’s what I think fucking YouTube should be about. Thank you guys. Bye. A lot of people
report about having this deep profounding
experience on YouTube, which maybe surprises those
of you who have only seen the skateboarding
dog or the Star Wars kid, or something like that. Ah, but if you ask the- these
people in the YouTube community there’s this ah, there was this thread that
went through recently, ‘What does YouTube
mean to you?’ and a lot of people
said free hugs. And what were they
talking about. There’s sort of a hero
that sort of emerged in all this, and it’s juammann,
J U A M M A N N. And this is a guy who
came home to Sydney after ah being in Britain
for some time and there’s nobody
there to greet him, he’s one of those lonely
individuals with no community. And so he felt like
he needed a hug so he went- he
started this campaign, he’d go down to the
mall here and hold up this
‘free hugs’ sign and after some time eventuall
people started hugging him. And he this profound connection-
anonymous people and yet coming together
and sharing a hug. And pretty soon it
starts to spread. Other people start
taking up the sign. [laughter] And you can see
they put it on YouTube, it has nearly 30
million views now. And it goes world wide now,
from YouTube it goes global. And so people all over the
world start doing this. And the fact that this becomes like, an icon on YouTube is- is important
in thinking about, you know, what this
mean for people who are trying to connect and trying to build these
strong connections and trying to reconnect with humanity in some profound way. This YouTube community is
not without drama though. So here we get into
the drama stuff. Is anybody here
involved in YouTube, that is part of this
drama and stuff? [laughs]
Okay, so this will be fun. Ah so in general- there is-
YouTube is a platform and in order to be seen on YouTube,
in order to be seen, okay think about 200,000 videos being uploaded every day, and the only way to
get to the front page is through the editors
of YouTube and the only other way to be prominent on YouTube is to be one of the Most Popular,
the Most Discussed, the Most Recent, the Most
Responded, Most Viewed, one of the Top
Favorites or Top Rated, and that’s really
challenging to do. And then there’s also
channels on YouTube here and these channels
are also ranked. And if you want people to
see your channel, again, you have to be one of
these most subscribed. So there’s all these
people competing to be one of these stars
so that they can be seen. So I’ll give you an idea of what these YouTube stars look like because there really is like this burgeoning
community of YouTube stars. Here’s one of the first ones. Hey, my name’s Matt and this is my first video blog. Um, I really don’t
know what to say, I’ve never done a video
blog before but, you know, I’m just giving it a go to
see if I like it or not. (Micahel)
And so this gets interesting, six days later. So yeah, this poem is directed to Matt, emokid21ohio, and yeah, here’s the poem. I saw your videos and thought
you were hot You seem really deep
and liked you a lot. But I’m kind of shy
and did something dumb. I made fun of you and
I thought it was fun. But this isn’t the real
me and I like you and I really hope
that you like me too. (Michael)
And so this actually
turns into a love story. So over the next month, through
YouTube you have these two talking back and forth creating
a love story and thousands of people are
tuning in to watch this. [laughter] And they become two of the
first stars on YouTube, early days of YouTube. And then April 26, 2006 this
is the video that was posted. Good evening, you’re
watching BBC News. We have a report that
emokid21ohio was brutally murdered outside
of his internet home today. Police suspect that the killer
used some sort of truth to kill the internet sensation. Although the motivation remain unclear but it’s the belief that emokid, an Englishman
from Rugby was killed for masquerading as a self-obsessed American teen. Just before his death, he released this statement. Hello, it’s me Matt again. As you can probably tell, um
I’m not an emo kid from Ohio. Um I thought it would be
amusing to masquerade as one. Ah but unfortunately
somebody yesterday or the day before yesterday
ah I can’t remember which, ah found my real
MySpace profile. (Michael)
So this is where
things get interesting. There becomes and authenticity
crisis on YouTube which is still going on today. (girl)
…and I found lonelygirl15. It’s about a 16 year old girl
who had strict parents and was locked up
in her room a lot. And she had to find
means to amuse herself. Hi guys, um so this is
my first video blog. Ah I found it was surprisingly, you know, kind of
cute and funny and charming. I am such a big
fan of LONELYGIRL, Bre is such an awesome
and her videos- each one of her videos
is so interesting. I went to lonelygirl15.com
fan site slash forum, when I started posting there couldn’t have been more than- I think there might
have been 38 threads. And within a few days it had exploded to 200 threads Check this out, [phone playing ringtone] while I’m recording a video. Are you fake or are you real. Earlier today, bravegirl5
posted a video called ‘LONELYGIRL15 is
not kidding y’all.’ Now I don’t know if
this news is true. I don’t know if this is real. I don’t have any
substantial major evidence, except what people
have told me but- LONELYGIRL is fake. To some LONELYGIRL15
was a kindred internet spirit, to others an obvious
teen soap opera. Many believed she was a
homeschooled American teenager but she’s been discovered to be
New Zealander’s Jessica Rose. (female narrator)
The soap opera was work of three wanna
be script writers (man)
This project was done in a bedroom with a $130
webcam and two desk lamps. Our attempt from the
very beginning was to tell a very realistic, fictional story. Everybody’s just mad
because they got duped, they got fooled. People don’t like being fooled. I don’t like being deceived. YouTube is just
not for fake stuff. It’s for real stuff. It’s starting to look
like this whole thing could turn into a bit
of a witch hunt and people could start trap- trying to track
down all the people that are pretending to people
who they aren’t really. Is branado for real? Ah you know, is
geriatric1927 for real? And is kenrg for real. If it’s not real, you should
come out and tell everybody now. (Michael)
The creators released a statement saying, “Who is she, Lonelygirl15 is a
reflection of everyone.” It’s very poetic. [laughs]
Um, and they go on to say here, “She is no more real or
fictitious than the portions of our personalities that we
choose to show (or hide) when we interact with the
people around us.” Very like, sociological,
anthropological and it actually sort of
sparked a series of- of post of people sort of reflecting on YouTube and whether YouTube could
be truly authentic given the production capacities. I’d like to reveal
that I too am a fake. I mean I don’t really act like
this moron type character, in real life. Why would I use so
many hand jesters and why would I be screaming
at my- at my camera? It doesn’t make sense, unless
I’m acting, which I am. Everyone is an independent
producer on YouTube. (man)
First thing you probably notice is that big green
screen in the back. And that’s a collapsible
green screen that allows me to set it up and have any kind
of background that I want. I’m never gonna get this
right, let’s try it again. Where as once I had 60 videos
up on my profile, now I have 27. It’s getting awfully easy to
click ‘remove video’ from this segment. I’m actually an 18 year
old girl from Connecticut. It’s a difference as
having many faces, as you might describe it to
having …one very diverse face. You know I feel I don’t even
know what to do anymore. I mean, would you all prefer if I did videos like
this all the time? Is this more your cup of tea? I mean tell me, I don’t know. Or do you like it down and
dirty with a low cool mama? So you can see my dilemma. But you don’t know what’s real
on here and what isn’t real. You know, like I was a
person, me and emogirl, made YouTube what it is today. We don’t want any fakes here,
we don’t want any frauds here, we don’t want any liars here. Get rid of all the fakes,
get rid of all the liars. If you’re gonna play a role, if you want to be an
actor or actress on YouTube, tell everyone that
you’re playing a role. There’s something else really
interesting about this and when people starting gaming the
system to get more views. So, for example, if
you don’t know this, the- the thumbnail that is
used on your video is the exact middle point of
the video that ya upload, so people start like putting these little flash frames right in the middle And if you look
today, any tay- any day 2- 2 or 3 of the top 10 will
be some sort of sexy thumbnail. And it works. So, for example, which was
uploaded with this thumbnail, gets over 2 million views. [laughter] and in- and in the sort of gaming the system they’re sort of exposing the system at the same time, sort of this playful
nature of YouTube. So this one is actually
legitimate medical knowledge about how to sleep better. This one is about
ah net neutrality, it’s a very serious
political statement. And this next one that you’ll
see here, this is from LisaNova, who is actually attacking this
particular phenomenon that people are putting these… …Are you sick on all
the sexy thumbnails and mainstream media
videos that now dominate all of the lists
on this website, keeping your videos from the
exposure that they deserve? Heck yeah I’m sick of that crap. Me too! Those lists used to be
filled with wonderful user generated
content like yours. (Michael)
So she offers these little clips that you can put in the
middle of your video so you can have a sexy
woman with a machine gun. See how it works. Just pick your own
LisaNova colab character, insert her into your video and
get the exposure you deserve. The possibilities are endless. It’s time to get YouTube back
to the user generated members who built this site. So this is actually an example
of something that’s much bigger, seriously playful
participatory ah culture, which is extending into the
real world at ah um politics. So you guys have probably
seen this, April 19, 2007…. ….that old Beach Boys
song, Bomb Iran, Bomb, bomb, bomb,
bomb, bomb- anyway. [laugheter] (Michael)
So this is uploaded to YouTube, it’s all over the
place 3 days later. ♪♪Bomb, bomb, bomb,
bomb, bomb Iran,♪ ♪bomb, bomb, bomb,
bomb, bomb Iran,♪ ♪Bomb Iran,♪ ♪and Pakistan,♪ ♪Oh Bomb Iran.♪ ♪You’ve got me
hidin’ in my bunker,♪ ♪crying for my
children Bomb Iran-♪ ♪bomb, bomb, bomb,
bomb, bomb Iran.♪♪ (newscaster)
No apologies though to many around the world who took a musical parody that many around the world took as a true sign of his thinking. When veterans are together, veterans joke and I was with veterans and we were joking. (Michael)
So this was sort of the context
collapse of everyday life that we all face
now with, you know, you never know where
a camera’s gonna be, when it’s gonna upload- when it’s gonna be
uploaded to YouTube. So we have this really
profoundly affecting our lives. So here we have marketers who
are also trying to sort of get on board
and get these- this participatory
culture to work for them. So here Chevy
actually allowed you to take clips of
their new Tahoe. Um make your own commercial,
add your own soundtrack, add your own ah- ah-
phrases and so on. And this is the result. Not exactly what they wanted. [laughter] And this is
something really ah, really quite profound
that’s happening. Where we can remix this culture
that’s being thrown at us, where we can take it, re-appropriate it
and throw it back. And this is one of the most
poetic statements of this, this is by um blimvisible…. [unintelligible female singing] And you hear the Regina
Spector lyrics there, where she says even though
our parts are slightly used and then goes on and says- these are all clips from
ah from different films, and she’s saying we’re living
in a den of thieves rum- by reaching for
answers in the pages. It’s a really powerful
and poetic statement, because most of what we
do is actually illegal, any remixing is
basically illegal. And I could talk more about
the- the parameters of that, we have fairuse laws that
should protect it but the simple fact of ripping
a DVD is actually illegal which makes virtually
everything we do illegal. So here we are in
this- this state, here’s Lawence Lessig
talking about this. (Lawence)
We need to recognize you can’t kill the instinct
the technology produces we can only criminalize it. We can’t stop our
kids from using it, we can only drive
it underground. We can’t make our
kids passive again, we can only make them “pirates.” And is that good? We live in this weird time this
kind of age of prohibitions where many areas of our life we live life constantly
against the law, ordinary people live life
against the law and that’s what i- we’re
doing to our kids, they live life knowing they
live it against the law. That realization is
extraordinary corrosive, extraordinary corrupting. And in a democracy we ought
to be able to do better. (Michael)
And the best part
about this video here, is by ah, by lim or by blimvisible, somebody commented, “My God! Are you doing
that for a living? I never saw anything like
this, you’re an artist.” He responds, “Nope,
I’m a housewife.” [laughter] And that’s sort of
the beauty of YouTube today. Now there’s something
more interesting. Not just people working
alone and producing things, but the fact that thousands of
people all around the world can collaborate together, and MadV has sort of become
a platform for this. Um you can see he- he
remains anonymous, which actually allows him to
become more of a platform, people sort of
participate through him. And he makes these calls, for example this one, he just says, “Make a simple statement on your
hand and show it to the world.” And so he demonstrates it here. This becomes the most
responded to video in the history of YouTube, ah thousands of responses, people writing on their hands a
message, just a simple message. And so you think
about this webcam and think about them
sitting in their homes wherever they might be and what do you think they might reach out with to say. And the messages are
really quite revealing as well as powerful, I think. So here’s a- some of it here. You can see the sense, You are not alone, you are connected, in this self-reflective place people are thinking
about themselves, saying love yourself, love you, love all the people, and this connection here is
key, we’re all connected. And you know, when you
see people expressing
values like this, it’s not necessary um
it’s often because they don’t feel- like they’re missing in their lives. So a value- a cultural value is often something not as prevalent as they would like it to be and that’s why it has to be said. And you see at the end
here, a lot of oneness, and the sort of breaking
down of boundaries and so on. So this is certainly not a
amoral or emoral community, by any means. They have very strong
values that are emerging. So as I was looking at this I
was reminded of- of some of the comments that were made about the first earth rise, when people first say the
earth rise, that first picture. And Carl Sagan of course, is probably most famous
for this for his ah poetry really
about the pale blue dot from the Voyager
picture of 1990, and he describes
that pale blue dot- this is a picture
of earth here, in the ray of the sun,
and he says, ah “Consider again that dot, that’s here that home, that’s us. On it, everyone you love, everyone know, everyone you’ve ever heard of, everyone who’s lived
out their lives, everybody.” And he goes on,
it’s very poetic, and he ends my saying, “The pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.” So I was sitting there
working on this project, looking up at my webcam,
[laughs] and thinking about
the little glass dot. And I just broke out
in some poetry here, um
[laughs] which I hope
you’ll excuse, but um, it too may not seem of
any particular interest but consider again that dot, that’s there, that’s someone else, that’s everybody. On the other side of that little
glass dot is everyone you love, everyone you know,
everyone you’ve ever heard of, everyone who’s living
out their lives who has access to the internet. Billions of potential viewers
and yourself among them. Some have called this the most- the biggest and
the smallest stage. The most public
place in the world from the privacy
from our own homes. It has been used for many
things: a political soapbox, comedian stage, a religious
pulpit, a teacher’s podium, or just a way to reach out
to the next door neighbor or across the world. To people we love, to people we want to love, or people we don’t even know. So share something deep,
or something trivial, something serious
or something funny. To strive for fame
or simple connect. It can be many things, but it cannot be just one thing. And it cannot be only
what you want it to be. It is not just what
you make of it, it is what we make of it. It’s a little glass dot, the eyes of the world. And to close this out I
wanted to introduce you to sort of a hero of mine, bnessel1973, um some of you may
have seen his work. Um he lost his son to
SIDS ah in early 2007 and I’ll let him close it
out with his words here. (bnessel1973)
April 17, 2007. Creating characters
gave me an escape. It allowed me to be silly. It allowed me to act
how I wanted to feel. It became a form of
therapy, a a coping mechanism. And after a while it brought
fun back to YouTube for me. You accepted my characters,
even embraced them. And by doing so, you
opened your arms to me. You allowed me to have the
escape I still need from the hard times, while
giving me a chance to talk about what I’ve gone through. And I’m eternally
grateful to you all. Some people have said that
the videos we make on YouTube should be created in
hopes to change the world. I’ve made mine to
help me live in it. You know, whether I make a
hundred more or a thousand more, I will know forever
that this website, this community helped bring me life again. And there’s something
really special in that. ♪♪ [DRAGOSTEA DIN
TEI by Haiducii]
Ma-ia-hii♪ ♪ Ma-ia-huu♪ ♪ Ma-ia-hoo♪ ♪ Ma-ia-haha♪ ♪ Ma-ia-hii♪ ♪ Ma-ia-huu♪ ♪ Ma-ia-hoo♪ ♪ Ma-ia-haha♪ ♪ Ma-ia-hii♪ ♪ Ma-ia-huu♪ ♪ Ma-ia-hoo♪ ♪ Ma-ia-haha♪ ♪ Ma-ia-hii♪ ♪ Ma-ia-huu♪ ♪ Ma-ia-hoo♪ ♪ Ma-ia-haha♪ ♪ ♪Alo,♪ ♪ ♪Salut,♪ ♪ ♪sunt eu, un haiduc,♪ ♪ ♪Si te rog,♪ ♪iubirea mea,
primeste fericirea.♪ ♪Alo,♪ ♪ ♪alo,♪ ♪ ♪sunt eu Picasso,
Ti-am dat beep,♪ ♪ ♪si sunt voinic,
Dar sa stii nu-ti cer nimic.♪ ♪Vrei sa pleci dar
nu ma, nu ma iei,♪ ♪Nu ma, nu ma iei,
nu ma, nu ma, nu ma iei.♪ ♪Chipul tau si
dragostea din tei,♪ ♪Mi-amintesc de ochii tai.♪ ♪Vrei sa pleci dar
nu ma, nu ma iei,♪ ♪Nu ma, nu ma iei,
nu ma, nu ma, nu ma iei.♪ ♪Chipul tau si
dragostea din tei,♪ ♪Mi-amintesc de ochii tai.♪ ♪ ♪Te sun,♪ ♪ ♪sa-ti spun,♪ ♪ ♪ce simt acum,♪ ♪ ♪Alo,♪ ♪iubirea mea,
sunt eu, fericirea.♪ ♪Alo,♪ ♪ ♪alo,♪ ♪ ♪sunt iarasi eu, Picasso,
Ti-am dat beep,♪ ♪ ♪si sunt voinic, Dar
sa stii nu-ti cer nimic.♪ ♪Vrei sa pleci dar
nu ma, nu ma iei,♪ ♪Nu ma, nu ma iei,
nu ma, nu ma, nu ma iei.♪ ♪Chipul tau si
dragostea din tei,♪ ♪Mi-amintesc de ochii tai.♪ ♪Vrei sa pleci dar
nu ma, nu ma iei,♪ ♪Nu ma, nu ma iei,
nu ma, nu ma, nu ma iei.♪ ♪Chipul tau si
dragostea din tei,♪ ♪Mi-amintesc de ochii tai.♪ ♪Ma-ia-hii♪ ♪ Ma-ia-huu♪ ♪ Ma-ia-hoo♪ ♪ Ma-ia-haha♪ ♪ Ma-ia-hii♪ ♪ Ma-ia-huu♪ ♪ Ma-ia-hoo♪ ♪ Ma-ia♪♪