Professor’s anthropology video becomes one of “most-viewed” on YouTube


When Michael Wesch produced a video about the change through which the Internet has gone since its inception, he had no idea how many people he would reach.

“I didn’t think I would reach one million people,” said Wesch, professor of anthropology.

Wesch said he originally made the video for his students and other anthropologists.

“I just wanted to show them what the Web looks like today, because I think a lot of people are still sort of operating in a sort of traditional mode on the Web,” Wesch said.

Many people see the Internet as a way to retrieve information, but now the Internet is more like a social network where people are connecting with other people, Wesch said.

“The impact that I see is that there are a lot of people talking about the issues the video talks about,” Wesch said.

He said he receives e-mails from people all over the world with feedback about the video.

“The impact is truly global,” said Brad Logan, professor of archeology. “The video has been viewed around the world.”

Students and professors in the department also have noticed his work and dedication to teaching.

“What surprises me is the environment the video is working in,” said Adam Bohannon, senior in cultural anthropology. “The video is a good example of what it represents. It’s amazing that he can make this video in three days and have more than a million people see it.”

Bohannon said although people will criticize his information gathering and video editing skills, he hopes they will still understand his work.

“Fifteen years ago, you couldn’t sit in your basement and make a video because video was expensive and upload and download speeds were not as fast as they are today,” Bohannon said.

Now with upload and download speeds catching up to one another, this allows for more people to communicate around the world, he said.

“I see the Web as a big web of neurons, and the more they communicate, the better and closer they become,” Bohannon said.

Wesch titled his video “The Machine Is Us/ing Us,” because of the intricate relationship between the Web and its users.

“The Web is feeding off of the information that we are giving it,” he said.

This means that the Web is using people to learn, he added.

“Every time we click on something, the Web learns something about human behavior,” Wesch said.

Wesch said the machine, Web, would not exist without human influence, though. The machine is a human artifact.

“The more people who use the machine, the smarter the machine gets,” Wesch said.

The dependance on the Web and its users turns into a continuous cycle.

“The machine is us, but it is using us at the same time,” Wesch said.

Some have argued that the Web is the first artificial intelligence. However, Wesch said the Web has become a mixture of human automation and human inputs.

“The more human input you have, the less AI it is, but the more automated it is, the more it is an AI,” Wesch said.

Even so, there always will be a balance of automation and human inputs, Wesch said.