Sunday, July 26, 2009
The Anthropology of YouTube
Presented at the 2009 Personal Democracy Forum at Jazz at Lincoln Center. About 10 minutes of it is a minor update (rehash) of An Anthropological Introduction to YouTube, but the rest is new. The gathering may have been the highest concentration of amazingly creative and concerned global citizens I have ever been around. Hallway conversations were different than your typical conversations. Instead of lots of people saying, 'You know, somebody should ...' there were lots of people saying, 'So I did this, this, and this, and now Im working on doing this, this, and this and we should collaborate ...' In other words, it was a bunch of people blessed with what I once heard Yochai Benkler and Henry Jenkins call critical optimism. Nobody there was blindly optimistic, thinking technology was going to make everything better. They were all continually trying to figure out where we are, where we might be going, and the possible downsides and dangers of new technologies so we can use the new technologies to serve human purposes. In other words, it was my kind of crowd. Special thanks to Micah Sifry and Andrew Rasiej for organizing the conference.