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The Machine is (Changing) Us: YouTube Culture and the Politics of Authenticity

presented at the Personal Democracy Forum 2009. The real presentation also includes 15 minutes of mashed up YouTube videos - basically a shortened but updated version of An Anthropological Introduction to YouTube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TPAO-lZ4_hU

The Machine is (Changing) Us: YouTube Culture and the Politics of Authenticity

  1. by Michael Wesch Kansas State University mediatedcultures.net
  2. 1984 A.D.
  3. Media Ecology
  4. Media are not just tools.
  5. Media are not just means of communication.
  6. Media mediate our conversations
  7. Media change
  8. Media our conversations change change
  9. “We shape our tools, and thereafter our tools shape us.” - Marshall McLuhan
  10. the conversations of our culture happen here
  11. the conversations are controlled by few
  12. the conversations are controlled by few and designed for the masses
  13. the conversations are always entertaining
  14. the conversations are always entertaining (even the serious ones)
  15. the conversations are punctuated by 30 second commercials
  16. the conversations create our culture
  17. the conversations create our culture of irrelevance incoherence and impotence
  18. “What steps do you plan to take to reduce the conflict in the Middle East?”
  19. “Or the rates of inflation, crime, or unemployment?”
  20. “What do you plan to do about NATO, OPEC, the CIA, etc.?”
  21. “I shall take the liberty of answering for you: ...
  22. “You plan to do nothing.”
  23. “You plan to do nothing.” - Neil Postman 1984
  24. “The public has adjusted to incoherence and been amused into indifference.” - Neil Postman 1984
  25. 25 years later ...
  26. “What we are encountering is a panicky, an almost hysterical, attempt to escape from the deadly anonymity of modern life ... and the prime cause is not vanity ... but the craving of people who feel their personality sinking lower and lower into the whirl of indistinguishable atoms to be lost in a mass civilization."
  27. “What we are encountering is a panicky, an almost hysterical, attempt to escape from the deadly anonymity of modern life ... and the prime cause is not vanity ... but the craving of people who feel their personality sinking lower and lower into the whirl of indistinguishable atoms to be lost in a mass civilization." - Henry Seidel Canby 1926
  28. Assembly line
  29. It's a one-way conversation
  30. You have to be on TV to have a voice
  31. You have to be on TV to be significant
  32. The MTV Generation  Short attention spans  Materialistic  Narcissistic  Not easily impressed
  33. “in the midst of a fabulous array of historically unprecedented and utterly mind-boggling stimuli ...
  34. “in the midst of a fabulous array of historically unprecedented and utterly mind-boggling stimuli ... whatever.”
  35. “in the midst of a fabulous array of historically unprecedented and utterly mind-boggling stimuli ... whatever.” - Thomas de Zengotita
  36. A brief history of “Whatever”  pre-1960s: "Whatever. That's what I meant."  Late 60s: "I don't care. Whatever."  1990s: MTV Generation – the indifferent "Meh."
  37. “I find it hard. It's hard to find, oh well, whatever, nevermind.”
  38. “I feel stupid, and contagious. Here we are now. Entertain us.”
  39. flattering
  40. A brief history of “Whatever”  pre-1960s: "Whatever. That's what I meant."  Late 60s: "I don't care. Whatever."  1990s: MTV Generation – the indifferent "Meh."
  41. A brief history of “Whatever”  pre-1960s: "Whatever. That's what I meant."  Late 60s: "I don't care. Whatever."  1990s: MTV Generation – the indifferent "Meh."  Late 90s - present: "Whatever. I'll do what I want."
  42. the search for identity and recognition
  43. the search for the authentic self
  44. the search for the authentic self Charles Taylor's “Ethics of Authenticity” (1991)
  45. Two Slides: Charles Taylor's “Ethics of Authenticity” (1991)
  46. Two Slides: towards ... Charles Taylor's “Ethics of Authenticity” (1991)
  47. Two Slides: towards ... 1. “self-centered modes of self-fulfilment” Charles Taylor's “Ethics of Authenticity” (1991)
  48. Two Slides: towards ... 1. “self-centered modes of self-fulfilment” 2. “negation of all horizons of significance” Charles Taylor's “Ethics of Authenticity” (1991)
  49. Two Slides: towards ... 1. “self-centered modes of self-fulfilment” disengagement 2. “negation of all horizons of significance” Charles Taylor's “Ethics of Authenticity” (1991)
  50. Two Slides: towards ... 1. “self-centered modes of self-fulfilment” disengagement 2. “negation of all horizons of significance” fragmentation Charles Taylor's “Ethics of Authenticity” (1991)
  51. Two Slides: towards ... 1. “self-centered modes of self-fulfilment” disengagement 2. “negation of all horizons of significance” fragmentation special interest sound bite politics Charles Taylor's “Ethics of Authenticity” (1991)
  52. If the conversations of our culture now happen here ...
  53. Why this matters ...  not controlled by the few  not one-way  created by, for, and around networks, not masses  transform individual pursuits into collective action  makes “group” formation “ridiculously easy” (Paquet/Shirky)
  54. Why this might deeply matter ...  We know ourselves through our relations with others.  New media create new ways of relating to others.  New media create new ways of knowing ourselves.
  55. 1,728,000 minutes/day
  56. Over 1,000x faster than you can watch
  57. 493,714 videos/day
  58. 493,714 videos/day (just on YouTube)
  59. 1,000,000+ online videos per day
  60. over 99.9% irrelevant to you (estimated)
  61. Who is on YouTube (percentage of videos featuring people of different ages)
  62. viewed by less than 1% of Americans
  63. Toward a new future of “whatever”  60s: “I don't care. Whatever (you think).”  90s: “Whatever. (I don't care what you think).”  Future: “I care. Let's do whatever it takes ... by whatever means necessary.”
  64. by michael wesch assistant professor of cultural anthropology Kansas State University more information, including videos viewed over 15 million times and translated in over 15 languages ... mediatedcultures.net

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