You Tube: A snapshot of humanity

I watched MIchael Wesch’s presentation on You Tube yesterday. It is a brilliant and very powerful presentation of new media research. I fully agree with , that after watching this presentation you will watch youtube contributions with very different eyes.

Michael and his group of students used participant observation, a method mostly used by anthropologists to study different cultures and by doing so offer a very different perspective of youtube. My first impression of many youtube contributors as weird and individualistic was replaced with the image of a highly connected community with strong values. Very frankand aggressive commenting, attempts to cheat and other acts against these values and the community complete a snapshot of humanity.

All in all, this research shows that you can only really understand (and should only judge) social media (and any community for that matter), when you have participated yourself.

Watch it:

More on digital ethnography and Michael Wesch’s work on his blog.

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Changing Lives: Making Research Real

Our colleague Christina Lakatos just shared an interesting initiative of DfID Research and the InterPress Service (IPS) to better communicate development research findings.

The main page of Changing Lives explains:

Research findings may be widely published in scientific journals, peer-reviewed and academically admired — but are they filtering through to the public, and bringing about tangible improvements to everyday life?

In partnership with http://www.research4development.info, IPS is seeking to answer these questions, enliven the debate about research, and help to ensure that it does indeed change lives.

You can read the stories here.

Does the social web enable me to find more unique information or just more of the same?

The video Information R/Evolution and the post From The Information Age To The Connected Age are describing two trends of the social web.

The social web can enable users to more easily find the exact information they were searching. But if the scarce resource of the connected age is attention, then we are likely to see a surge of new ways of and tools for marketing and PR in the battle for audiences.

As producers of information and products learn how to use the social web to reach people, these same tools will be weakened in their function to facilitate access to the best information in favor of the loudest voice. How do we know that the loudest voice is the one we want to listen to? and if it tells us what we want to hear, why would we not listen or even go look for an alternative one?

Research debates have very similar problems: Big names are favored and have a lot of influence, newcomers and dissidents have to accept the supremacy of the established voices. But, do the big names always produce the best information? or did were they just lucky to have one great idea that made their reputation?