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

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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

  • Hey guys! Who wants to chat with me? More photos with me here 👉 http://www.bit.ly/katekoxx
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  • At one point in time 'formal' communication meant writing in Latin for most of the known world. Eventually web abbreviations and so forth will be considered common language, probably with their own set of grammatical rules and regulations, just as workaday English has now. As long as we're communicating clearly with each other - this trend does not concern me. What concerns me more is the inability of 'educated' people to spell simple words and use the correct part of speech in a sentence. (You're vs. Your) (They're/Their/There) etc. Our kids are getting advanced degrees but they can't do basic math or write a literate sentence. Something wrong there.
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  • Very good presentation, and contains a lot of important tips.

    Mark Chang, www.free-ringtones.co.in/ www.free-ringtones-for-sprint.com/
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  • Within the discipline 'Education and the Network Society' of the Masters in 'e-Learning Pedagogy' at the Universidade Aberta, Lisbon/Portugal (http://mpel.wordpress.com/english/) this video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=09gR6VPVrpw) and this presentation was object of analyse and our group should publish a comment. So here it is.

    The vídeo 'The Machine is (Changing) us, YouTube Culture and the Politcs of Authenticity' is a record of a speach by Michael Wesch (2009) in the 'Personal Democracy Forum'. Here a brief resume of the speach.

    Wesch begins by stressing some parallels between '1984' by George Orwell and 'Brave New World' by Aldous Huxley. He also mentions the book by Neil Postman 'Amusing Ourselves to Death' where the media are not seen as mere means of communication. Marschall McLuhan is quoted with 'We shape our tools, and thereafter our tools shape us'.Wesch also speaks briefly about the impact of some of the features of television as a 'mass media'.

    Which leads to an extraordinary adherence to projects like 'American Idol'? Sociologists stud the feeling of loneliness and anonymity of people in cities and suburbs, but also in the workplace. It seem, also to be there a lack of connection between people and emerges the feeling of being insignificant as not recognized by the other.

    Wesch states that the new media supports the search of Ourselves, but also changes the way we do that and, at the same time, changes notions such as authenticity. To whom are we talking when we present ourselves in YouTube or other services like blogs, micro-blogging or social networks? But it seems to be important, not how the other sees me, but how I will see me in an other moment in Internet. McLuhn called it 're-cognition and new forms of self-awareness'. Wesch observes that people in Internet tend to express a deep self-reflection.

    Wesch continues with the argument that new media make possible a connection without constraints, allowing connections of different ways, building brigdes, communities, creating new forms of self-knowledge.

    One comment from us was: An example of social change that we are suffering because of the influence of social networks and the Internet is in the language. The Internet communication induced people to simplify writing in order to be more efficient. Abbreviations and symbols are frequently used in informal communication between people. Will future generations know how to write properly or they will be more familiar with the web-language and will not be able to learn the formal spelling. Concerning the language, English is the international Internet idiom. Is the machine making us loosing our Portuguese and changing our cultural identity?

    About the idea that the internet can sometimes allow us to connect more deeply than ever before, we asked ourselves why the Internet can be approximat? When we are dealing with a webcam, it seems easy to say everything that comes to mind, including having some kind of intimacy that in real life would be almost impossible. Can this be seen as an approximation with an unknown crowd, intense and even genuine? The one before the Webcam is the real one, he identifies himself with this crowd? Admires the other person's courage to expose themselves? Is this another way the machine is changing us?

    Best regards from Lisbon
    Juliana, Maria and Alberto
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  • thanks a lot- really enjoyed!
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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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