Impression of Lecture By Girls YouTube channel in 2011
When Emily Keats, PhD candidate at the Colorado State University,
approached a group of women behind popular YouTube channels for her
Master's Thesis, she failed to get a proper response. Different from her
expectation, popular YouTubers were not eager for academic interest in
their online life. As it was too difficult to get in touch with them, Keats
ended up using data of commentators for one of her case studies.
I experienced something similar in 2011, at the beginning of my own artistic
research into the world of Youtube. Not restrained by scientific research
methods however, I was able to go further. I started my own channel
Lecture by Girls, collected followers and became part of a specific
YouTube scene. It was, to some extend, an undercover operation, during
which I collected an enormous amount of data while lacking a clear
research goal and method. Or, to put it differently, my interests, goals and
methods changed each time I obtained a new level of access.
After virtually becoming a member of the group and developing a lasting
friendship with a prominent Dutch YouTuber, I decided to step out in the
beginning of 2015.
While my research has been an inexhaustible source of inspiration for my
art practice, the courses at Media Technology induced me to look at it from
a different angle. What is the academic value and relevance of my
research? Is it possible, in retrospect, to derive specific methods, goals
and findings from the successive research periods? How does it compare
to similar artistic and academic inquiries? Can it become a model for
academic research into online communities like YouTube?
Dutch YouTube Gathering in 2015, photo by Romy Muchable