YouTube Culture and Community

To try to understand YouTube I thoroughly recommend watching An anthropological introduction to YouTube. Thanks to @Heloukee for making me aware of this video.

In this blog I aim to highlight a selection of the things that I find really stand out when analysing YouTube culture.

Community

YouTube offers a way to connect with people.  In order to fully see this you have to be willing to put yourself out there for all to see. It is initially incredibly daunting because arguably YouTube is the most public space there is with millions visiting the sight everyday. Also because people are able to view your videos relatively anonymously you can never really know who is watching.

Recording a Video-log, or “Vlog” as “tubers” say, on your own is also a strange experience when you try for the first time. There’s no doubt that it feels unnatural talking to nothing but a camera, or you image on screen.

Check out my dismal Vlog attempt for the ReTechSocial YouTube channel. So dull was my voice that I felt the need to add a crrrraaaazzzy video effect to add a bit of humour and balance out the cringey-ness.

If you are however able to overcome these things and put aside you inhibitions then there are some pretty exciting possibilities to be explored.

The right video can lead to people appreciating it so much so that they are compelled to show respond to it and share it. This can lead to:

  • exponentially growing amounts of views
  • people replying to your video with their comments and sometimes their own videos
  • people remixing your video, adding their own slant and recycling your ideas for new audiences.

The right video

A sense of play is certainly a common factor of how YouTube works. Having fun is arguably the no.1 reason why people watch videos and contribute to the community. 3 YouTube videos that offer impressive evidence to support this theory include:

All 3 videos are incredibly popular, with at this point over 810,000,000 views between them. What they all have in common is that they are all light-hearted and comical whether intended to be or not.

Additionally all 3 videos include simple fun aspects which can easily be copied, mimicked and reinterpreted. They are, as Hugh Garry described, permeable, inviting others to engage with them.

When searching for these novel videos, you inevitably find many other videos which are copies or and remixes. This is a standout characteristic of YouTube culture and one which has left a lot of TV mogul/academic/chin-stroking types wondering why. Below are some examples of remixes of the original 3 videos:

YouTube provides an easy platform for everyone to do their own thing. Consequently from doing exactly that, the makers of the original videos have gone on to receive world-wide publicity on major TV channels, spoofed within shows such as South Park, and probably earn lots of money. ‘Question is, would you want to be remembered throughout history as the person who did such a thing as Gangnam Style, Numa Numa or Keyboard Cat? I’m not entirely sure I would, no matter how great the financial reward.

One thing worth noting is that video quality is almost never a factor in a videos potential to be hit, so long as the picture is clear enough to see what is going on and in sync with any audio. Apart from Gangnam style, the example videos are all made using low-tech affordable technology.

Why do people remix?

This is something I would like to eventually explore in more detail. From what I have learned so far during my research into Social Media Technologies I believe some of the reasons to be:

  • To declare ones appreciation of the original.
  • The desire to be part of a community or movement with people who share the same interests, sense of humour, and/or beliefs.
  • To gain notoriety. Covering something which thousands or even millions of people already find entertaining is bound to attract some attention. More so if you have added your own innovation.
  • Purely for fun!
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