Accepted Paper:

Science@YouTube Platform Infrastructures and Production Processes  


Andrea Geipel (Technical University of Munich)

Paper short abstract:

Science webvideos on YouTube add a new dialogic format of science communication and illustrate the increasing importance of visualized communication for the popularization of science. In contrast to the often claimed importance of ‘authenticity’ this project supposes a more professional production process.

Paper long abstract:

During the last years replacing 'public understanding of science' (PUS) models by more dialogic approaches is a highly discussed topic. Published on YouTube, videos are no longer a one-way but rather a two-way communication tool by using the comments section and visual references. In addition, the importance of visualized communication increases and YouTube producers may add new models of communication, like edutainment and 'curiosity'. The number of videos with scientific content increased dramatically and is one example for the popularization of science and technology. Just a query for "science" on the leading social video platform YouTube reveals that more than one million distinct channels exist (15.02.2016). Despite this great presence of science and technology on YouTube we still lack empirical studies.

My dissertation project aims to give answer to the question why, how and by whom science webvideos on YouTube are made. Therefore, this project focusses on two main aspects: the production process and the platform infrastructures of YouTube. In reference to the production process I argue that hidden behind the terms 'authenticity' and 'freedom' we find a high professionalism with cooperate identities and marketing strategies which is supported by YouTube's infrastructure. A mix of several qualitative methods is adapted in order to answer these questions and to examine the project topic from various perspectives. Qualitative interviews as well as qualitative video analysis and ethnographic methods will give insights into the patterns of practice on the producer's side on the one hand and the production process on the other.

Panel T032
Science Communication