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Archive for April, 2014

Mining Mountains of Crap

Posted by prof e on April 14, 2014

SADYOUTUBE_4This blog post is prompted by a segment that I heard recently while listening to the On the Media podcast from NPR. On this particular segment (you can listen to the 8-minute segment at Hunting for YouTube’s Saddest Comments) TLDR hosts PJ Vogt and Alex Goldman interviewed Mark Slutsky, a filmmaker behind the website

In the segment Slutsky mentions the idea that archeologists frequently gain an understanding of ancient cultures by excavating their garbage dumps. Supposedly we can learn a lot by examining the discarded refuse of ordinary life. Of course the local dump is where all of our refuse is collected in one nice convenient place. If the world is still around in a few millennia I’m sure that our landfills will yield equally compelling artifacts of what we value and what we don’t.

But what does this have to do with comments on Youtube? Or, you might ask, what do archeologists and communication scholars have in common? Simply that there is a lot of garbage in Youtube comments…and an occasionally gem as well. Slutsky is mining the comments for gems, and saving them for the future. Tough work. But after listening to a few of the gems I can understand what keeps him going.


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