23 March 2012

Youtube. It's not just kittens....

So recently, and more than once I've had people look down their noses at me when I say that I spend a lot of time on Youtube. It's as if I'm openly admitting to having some peculiar kitten fetish or that I derive secret pleasure from watching skateboarders neuter themselves on stairwell rails.

I think there is a common misconception that YouTube is refuse bin of video vomit; a dumping ground for every crappy phone camera of every single taser victim in the world. In other words: A colossal waste of time. With that in mind anyone who spends a portion of his/her day on Youtube must really not have anything better to do. It's like how people immediate label you as childish or violent if you try to make a case for video games being an equally intellectual and valid medium as books and movies. I can see you rolling your eyes. Knock it off.

Just because your only experience of YouTube involves annoying videos people inflict upon you at parties with glowing endorsements like: "oh man, you have to see this......[INSERT HILARIOUS/CUTE/NAUSEATING]" it doesn't mean that the medium doesn't have merit. Likewise you may associate video games with childish/violient things (which is another post, I promise).

It would be like using pornographic films or crappy drugstore paperbacks to judge films and literature. Sure it may be the majority of published content, sure it may be terrible. It may even be what everyone is buying and watching but that doesn't mean it's the best that medium has to offer.

Ok, rant done. All this would just be talk without some evidence to back it up. The following are entire channels (not just videos, which would imply sporadic-um-ness and coincidence)  that I subscribe to and regularly am amazed by.

1. The VlogBrothers

Hands-down my favourite two youtubers. There's too much to say here so I'll keep it short: Two brothers started a youtube channel to keep in touch. One's a science nerd and the other is a literature nerd. Both are hugely successful in their respective fields. The result is history a massive Kiva.org group and a movement called NerdFighteria which defies all explanation.

These guys are so successful that they have two spinoff channels that educate and inspire:

2. Smarter Every Day

Destin, with the frequent help of his two adorable children explain how things work. He covers everything subject under the sun like how children go from breathing amniotic fluid to air, helicopter physics and slow motion video of  raptors striking at prey. This is one channel I am consistently and constantly amazed by.

3. ViHart

Victoria (Vi) Hart describes herself as "full-time mathemusician at Khan Academy" and if that's not the coolest job title ever I don't know what is. Her videos show us why math is fun and math teachers the world over are "doing it wrong" in treating math like a bunch of numbers.  The video I've chosen explores math in leaf arrangements on plants and it will blow your mind.

4. lullation13

It's not all science. Laurena from Montreal films herself performing original songs. I love this part of youtube. People who are creative just getting out there and being creative with no middlemen or restrictions. This is why the internet is great.

5. Rhett and Link

These two guys have now gone pro and make commercials and humorous/thought-provoking/intelligent videos. Their videos all have high production value.


Ok, that's a good start and definitely the more mainstream of the amazing content. Did I miss a channel? Let me know in the comments.

SUPER EXCITING UPDATE:: May 4, 2012:

6. Ze Frank

Ok, this is exciting. Ze Frank, arguably the progenitor of modern Youtube vlogging is back. Once upon a time a dude named Ze danced in front of a camera and became one of the first recorded incidents of a viral video. His show on Youtube challenged, delighted and amazed fans, always breaking conventions in half and challenging users to engage.

Now he's back and his show is better than ever.


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