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A Ze Frank Interview and Michael Wesch’s YouTube Anthropology

In the last two days, I’ve seen two videos that unexpectedly went together very well.

The First

Yesterday, I watched Ze Frank on The Sound of Young America hosted by Jesse Thorn. The 30 minute interview ranged from silly to philosophical and impressed me. With these two people near the prime of what they do getting a kick out of one another and sharing an honest discussion in a live environment, you’re forced to realize that the way our participatory media culture is being defined is truly changing – at a breakneck speed with very new rules. (case in point: Color Wars 2008: Youngme / Nowme)

The interview’s very inspiring and highly recommended. Self-deprecating and insightful. Why can’t all people be funny *and* smart?

And of course, this isn’t the first time.

Ze Frank on The Sound of Young America from Jesse Thorn on Vimeo.

The Second

And five days ago, Dr. Michael Wesch posted his presentation to the Library of Congress from June 23, 2008. He’s the professor at Kansas State University who captured the hearts and minds of YouTube, and then everyone else, just before the Super Bowl last year with his video called “Web 2.0 … The Machine is Us/ing Us“. It has now been viewed over 6 million times directly at YouTube. Being an anthropologist, he jokes that this is kind of a big deal (the usual magic number for ‘the tenure folder’ is 200 people seeing your work). His second video, Information R/evolution received similar wide acclaim. He’d really found his calling and has only gotten better with practice. He’s mastered the remixed mashup video genre.

His Digital Ethnography class this past semester helped him craft 40 minutes of the 55 minute presentation. The time and energy they put into it really comes through. They joined the community at YouTube themselves and employed “participant observation” to understand and experience the culture.

Dr. Wesch’s style is natural and the points he makes about our society and identity and reflection and collective experience really need to be seen.

Please watch this video.

An anthropological introduction to YouTube

I put these two videos together because their sense of Identity and Play and Realization of ‘The Social’ match very closely. I’d love to know if/when Ze and Mike can sit down and talk with one another about their experiences. They both have a deep understanding of this new medium and how it’s transforming everything we know.

That little camera forces us to deal with ourselves in ways we’ve never had to deal with ourselves before. We might as well spend some time to listen to these two who have already figured it out.

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  1. […] This week, things seem to be getting read in pairs. […]