PCST Network

Public Communication of Science and Technology


Science and technology as a popular participatory content. A study of the “Popular on Youtube” channel

Bienvenido Leon  

Internet has dramatically changed the relationships among the actors involved in science communication, developing a new participatory culture that allows individuals to take an active role in the production, dissemination and interpretation of cultural goods, following the "Do It Yourself" ideology (Jenkins, 2006). Video is one of the content types of most interest to internet users. Globally, video traffic will be 80 percent of all consumer internet traffic in 2019, up from 64 percent in 2014 (Cisco, 2015). The first online videos set the standards for the format: "short, humorous and easy to access" (Kim, 2012). However, internet video has evolved and adopted a wide variety of narratives, some of which have become especially popular in the online universe. Participatory culture is in the very essence of Youtube -a site where users upload and broadcast videos-, although since it was created in 2005, it has evolved to a hybrid model, where community participation joins commercial popular culture (Burguess and Green, 2009). This paper explores to what extent science and technology are popular contents on Youtube, who are the most successful stakeholders of this new participatory science culture and what are the narrative strategies they use. We conducted a content analysis of over 4960 videos, from the "Popular on Youtube-World" channel, within a period of one year. Results indicate that "Science and technology" is a relatively popular category, representing 12.47% of the videos in the channel -behind "Entertainment" and "Music"-, in which technology is the prevalent discipline (63.48%). We also explore the narrative strategies developed by the most popular science and technology related Youtube channels, in order to adapt to the requirements of this participatory site. Our analysis indicates that the "amateur look", spontaneity and entertainment orientation prevail, not only in user generated content but also in professionally produced content.

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