Category Archives: YouTube
Two weeks ago I did something* that it had never occurred to me I would ever even consider, let alone actually do. About four times a year, at The Stand Comedy Club Newcastle, they have a special evening called Bright Club. Billed as “the thinking person’s variety night” and described as “researchers become comedians for just one night”, Bright Club started at University College London and has expanded to a dozen cities around the UK.
Here’s the video of my performance. I suggest you watch it before you read the rest of this post , or you could find your viewing enjoyment degraded by spoilers.
It all started with an email from The Graduate School at Northumbria University. (Well, I suppose it really all started with last year’s performance by Pablo Puente, husband of someone who recently got a design PhD at Northumbria.) I had heard it was great fun, and in the spirit of public engagement, getting more involved in the community, and just having a bit of fun I decided to attend the training session to find out more and decide whether I wanted to perform.
The trainers included two organizers and experienced comedians from Public Engagement at Newcastle University’s Life Science Centre, plus a professional comedian. We started off with a go-around about where were from and what our subject area was (most of us were from Northumbria), and then they talked to us about the structure of comedy and how we should formulate our sets. I wasn’t sure I could write one and have it ready to perform in two weeks, so I said I’d come to the first of the three rehearsals and decide then. But an email the next day said they already had four of the eight slots filled, so I went ahead and signed up to do it.
We were required to attend two of the rehearsals, but as a major newbie and OCD suspect I went to all three. The first time all I had was some notes I had made, while most of the others had draft scripts. Even though they had told us we didn’t need to have anything written for the first rehearsal, I felt woefully unprepared. But I got some good feedback, and I went home and started writing. The second rehearsal revealed that my script was too long, and again I got some good feedback about what to cut and how to present some of the material. People really liked the faces I made at the audience. The third rehearsal came in at just the right time. (We were allowed eight minutes, and they suggested we plan it for 7.5 to allow time for laughing.)
I was really worried about not being able to remember it all. I had started with a set of questions that I often get from locals about my experience as an American living in the North East of England, and to help me remember the questions in order, I invented an interviewer who would ask me the questions as she read from her notes. I was also going to read some of the comments on the YouTube meditation videos that I had analyzed in one of my studies, and the advisors said that it could be very effective to pull a list from a pocket and read them that way. So I did.
In the end I forgot only one line, and although it was funny† it wasn’t critical to the gist or the flow. I did go over my time limit by more than three minutes, however. I ad-libbed a little, but I like to think it was mostly because the audience laughed. They laughed a lot.
And afterward, two women over 50 came up to me and told me how important they thought it was that older women are participating in these kinds of events, that our voices are being heard. That was as gratifying as the laughter. Maybe even more so.
* I haven’t blogged about this before now because I was waiting for the video to become available.
† As the last part of the answer to the question about what I like about living in the North East: “I also like all the ancient ruins I find around here. (Don’t anybody take that personally.)”
Next week I’m presenting to the DPPI conference a qualitative content analysis of viewer comments on YouTube videos tagged for meditation. As I’m putting the finishing touches on the presentation, I’m doing a little extra poking around in the numbers, just for curiosity’s sake. (I’ve always been curious about everythng; and that’s a good trait for a researcher to have. :-)
When I collected the data for the paper, I did a print-to-PDF (gotta love Mac OS X :-) of the YouTube search results for “meditation”. Those results showed “About 4,270,000 results” as of 3 May 2013. I ran the search again just now (29 August) and got “About 7,160,000 results” — an increase of 67% in less than four months. Now, I know that YouTube content as a whole is expanding at an astounding rate (YouTube says right now that 100 hours of video are uploaded every minute), and I have not (yet :-) taken statistics on other topics for comparison. (It doesn’t help that YouTube keeps to itself the total number of videos it hosts.)
I’ve just done a rough calculation, based on 100 hours of uploads per minute and assuming an average of 4.2 minutes per video (based on an early 2010 report by Sysomos, which is very old and possibly no longer valid, but it’s the only thing I found). From these figures I estimate that this period saw the upload of something on the order of 242.7 million videos in all, in which case meditation videos would account for 1.2% of the uploads.
I think I will keep an eye on the numbers for other keywords, for comparison. Stay tuned.