Meta-YouTube: “An Anthropological Introduction to YouTube”

A profound meditation on the community YouTube creates, this video, “An Anthropological Introduction to YouTube,” by Michael Wesch is thoroughly meta from beginning to end (55 minutes, so make some popcorn) and profoundly moving (I am still all choked up and puffy-eyed) because it is about the revolution that is happening as “real” people share “real” content with a growing, global (and very “real”) community (hello world!).

One particularly meta highlight: Some of you may know of Lonelygirl15, a lonely teenage youtube sensation who turned out to be a fictional character. Many youtube viewers were outraged. “If it’s not real, you should come out and tell everybody now.” The makers of the vlog wrote, “Lonelygirl15 is a reflection of everyone. 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.” In other words, all of us create identities when we communicate, when we write or record ourselves. (Sounds a lot like my posts Who is Writing This?, A Not-Not True Blog of a Short, Simple Morning and “Where is Truth?” I Ask You.)

One respondent declared, “I too am a fake. I don’t really act like this moron-type character in real life. Why would I use so many hand gestures? Why would I be screaming at my–at my camera, unless I was acting, which I am!”

Another very meta moment: He explains that learning or knowing something is cognition. When we come across the information again and realize that we know it, it is recognition.

Welsh ends the talk with a poem he wrote to the webcam. The final line: “It’s a little glass dot, the eyes of the world.” The whole piece is dedicated to “Gary Brolsma” for starting the dance.

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