After Web 2.0, Michael Wesch Takes On YouTube

After telling us the story of Web 2.0’s evolution in the 5-minute The Machine is Us/Ing Us, Michael Wesch took his specialty in cultural anthropology and applied it to the full breadth of the YouTube community’s evolution for a July 23rd presentation at the Library of Congress.

Starting out with a breakdown of the Numa Numa phenomenon, Wesch then gives a full account of the aftermath of The Machine…‘s success, and how excited he was by it: “because when you’re a cultural anthropologist, if your work reaches more than two hundred people, it’s kind of a big deal.”

According to Wesch and his team of researchers, “88% of the content coming through the front door is new and original, which is better than the networks do.” Some of the other facts they’ve discovered include:

  • Almost 10,000 of the 200,000 videos posted every day on YouTube are addressed to the YouTube community
  • Over 50% of videos have an 18-24 year old in them
  • Approximately 15% of videos on YouTube are remixes or remakes of other videos
  • Time it would take to view all of the material on YouTube (as of March 17th 2008): 412.3 years

The full presentation tackles subjects including YouTube haters, Free Hugs, lonelygirl15, and the nature of authenticity online. At 55 minutes, it’s a commitment, but engrossing, and he provides a table of contents and time stamps if you want to skip around. Consider it like a TED talk, but with more dancing.