Michael Wesch is an Assistant Professor of Cultural Anthropology at Kansas State University. He’s really a media ecologist, and perhaps the first cultural anthropologist to study and teach Digital Ethnography, He gave an excellent presentation to the Library of Congress last summer called “An Anthropological Introduction to YouTube”. If you haven’t seen it yet, I hope you take the time to watch it in it’s entirety. Especially if you think YouTube is only for funny animal videos and silly home movies. Trust me, it’s so much more.
I promise, after watching the video below you’ll never look at YouTube the same way again.
Wesch was named National Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching in 2008. Here’s a video of his acceptance speech two weeks ago, including an introduction given by a former student. I really enjoyed hearing Wesch talk about his former teacher, the one that inspired him, Dr. Martin Ottenheimer. Wesch said of Ottenheimer, “He’s the one that inspired this idea that it’s the questions that matter not the answers.” He said his professor “helped me find new questions I’d never asked before. And suddenly I was in this life long quest of asking question after question after question.”
Oh, and of course I have to mention Wesch’s video from January 2007, his real claim to fame on YouTube, “Web 2.0 — The Machine is Using Us,”. I’m sure most of you have seen it, it’s a pretty powerful little piece. His first version has now been viewed more than 7 million times! I’ve included the final version below. It’s short, less than five minutes long.
Michael Wesch looks like a very cool guy. I’d love to meet him one day, or perhaps even sit in on one of his lectures. Maybe if I did my own version of the Numa Numa or the Free Hugs video and dedicated it to him I will get his attention and he’ll invite me come and audit his class.