YouTube culture

Yes, it’s an hour long. One of the best hours you might spend. Watch this video.

Why?

  • Because you’re immersed in social media or because you’d like to understand it better.
  • Because this video will help you take a deeper look at YouTube culture, and by extension, social media culture, contemporary culture.
  • Because you don’t usually take the time to scratch below the surface, beyond blogger relations, ROI, product promotion. But you’d like to.
  • Because this is your world, our world, and it’s our duty to understand it.

This is the video of a presentation Kansas State anthropology professor Dr. Michael Wesch gave at the Library of Congress.

No, it’s not a boring PowerPoint. No, it’s not boring and academic. It’s funny, insightful, human, and provocative. Who knows, it might even help with that ROI.

P.S. Yes, the lyrics of the “Numa” video are in Romanian.

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Ghost writing

Ghost writing is, unfortunately a common practice in PR. It goes against the ethos of social media, and I personally believe it to be unethical, but unfortunately, it still happens a lot. PR people write blog posts, news articles and who knows what else on behalf of clients. But research articles????!!! Published in medical journals???!!!

Check out this story on my husband’s blog.

What do you think about ghost writing? Is it ethical? Acceptable? It depends? On what? What should I teach my students about it?

U.S. elections explained

As you may or may not know, I moved to the U.S. from Romania about 10 years ago. I’m not a U.S. citizen, but I might become one someday. I follow U.S. politics but never quite understood the electoral process until the folks at CommonCraft created this video:

Should make good study material for that U.S. citizenship test!

The Golden Wall

I’m reading The Discovery of Heaven, a novel of ideas by Dutch author Harry Mulisch. One of the main characters, Onno, after a stint in politics, meditates on the nature of power.

He claims that power exists because of the Golden Wall that separates the masses (the public) from decision makers. Government, in his example, is a mystery hidden behind this Golden Wall, regarded by the masses (the subject of power) in awe.

Once the Golden Wall falls (or becomes transparent), people see that behind it lies the same mess as outside it. There are people in there, too. Messy people, engaged in messy, imperfect decision making processes. The awe disappears. With it, the power.

What happens actually, with the fall of the Golden Wall, is higher accountability and a more equitable distribution of power. Oh, and the risk of anarchy.

But the Golden Wall must fall.

In the communication professions, social media is tearing huge holes in the Golden Wall. Just like in 1989 Europe, some are celebrating, others are paralyzed with fear.

In education, the Golden Wall stands. Secret meetings behind closed-door decide the curriculum, the professors’ yearly evaluations, tenure, lives, my life.

I talk to my students about squabbles in faculty meetings that result in curriculum changes. I want them to see behind the Golden Wall. To understand how decisions about their education are made. That we’re human, imperfect, and hopefully, possibly, subject to change. I haven’t seen undergraduate students involved in changing the curriculum. Nobody asks them. They don’t push. At Purdue, the Graduate Student Association had a representative sit in on faculty meetings. We did impact the curriculum. We were in, behind the Golden Wall.

In U.S. government, C-SPAN gets us glimpses behind the Golden Wall. But we don’t watch. We’re too busy. It’s too boring. (OK, there are exceptions.)

Look around you. Do you see Golden Walls? Tear them down.

Then come back here and tell the story in the comments section.