Discovering YouTube (kind of…)

“The internet is just a world passing notes around a classroom.”
― Jon Stewart

YouTube came along in the winter of my freshman year of university and I have fond memories of the stupid. meme-y vids that zipped around our dorm rooms and gave rise to a million inside jokes.

This is, of course not news to anybody but me, but from humble beginnings YouTube has become a powerful force in the media world and one I didn’t start to fully appreciate until about a year ago. Prior to that I used it to share humorous things with friends (maturing past freshman year not a whit in this regard), see trailers for films, occasionally be introduced to new artists, or general time wasting. It’s a great repository of copy and pasted content, but what I’ve really enjoyed discovering is all the original content available on it as a medium.

Again, not news. But a lot of fun for me nonetheless! Over the past couple of years, here are few of the YouTubers who I’ve found, followed, and loved. Share your favorite channels and tell me what I, media plebe, need to know about.


The Needledrop is my most recent find. I have no shame at all in saying that Jeff is the resident music expert and I’m very out of touch with it in a lot of ways. I simply tend to find and listen to things that bear up to my incredibly rigorous standards of “sounding nice,” while he’s much more familiar with history and Persons of Note. Although I did introduce him to The Civil Wars, which doesn’t absolve me from the Ke$ha songs on my workout playlists. The Needledrop is run by Anthony Fantano who is a prolific reviewer and commenter, he posts several times a week to his channel. In addition to just finding things that sound good to me, I tend to enjoy music on a song by song basis and don’t really dive deep into whole albums, which is why I like his reviews. He’s definitely got a quirky style that takes some getting used to (plus a humorous alter ego with terrible music tastes), but I find his posts to be very thoughtful and interesting. I started with some reviews of artists I knew…and then started exploring new music. It’s been fun.

I shouted out to Thug Notes several months ago, but the channel has expanded now to do philosophy as taught by video games, plus other upcoming projects, and now goes by the name Wisecrack. The Thug Notes literary summaries still have my heart, though!

I’ve also discovered the strange and gorgeous world of beauty channels. Where were these when I was a ridiculous semi-tomboy-with-secret-but-frustrated-feminine-aspirations?! The one I want to be best friends with is probably EssieButton, a Canadian-turned-Londoner with gorgeous makeup taste and a wacky sense of humor who just sounds like she’d be fun to hang out with in real life. But I’ve also checked out Vivianna Does Makeup (another Londoner, who I’ve actually exchanged an email with and admire for doing her thing so young!) and That Is All (who often talks about natural makeup, healthy eating, and other things).

Less self-indulgently, CGP Grey does fun, educational vids about somewhat obscure topics that are terribly entertaining!

Glove and Boots. A cast of puppet characters and the internet. Mayhem ensues.

Everyone knows about the vlogbrothers channel, run by YA author John Green and his brother, entrepreneur, musician, and lots of other things besides, Hank Green. I enjoy John Green’s books just fine, although I find a distinct lack of variation in a lot of his books that I hope he gets out of, but I enjoy a lot of his videos and perspectives, even when I don’t entirely agree. Hank, I can’t even keep up with. The man is busy! But I admire the community of, largely, teens and young adults they’ve created and think they manage to encourage a lot of good with their various foundations and charitable pushes. Worth checking out, but I like many more of their spinoff projects more!

I’ve raved about The Lizzie Bennet Diaries before, so I’ll just say go watch it. Two other adaptations have followed, Sanditon and Emma Approved that are also great, Emma Approved is still ongoing. These projects are extremely clever and weave a lot external social media elements into the story telling that can be a lot of fun to follow along with.

The Brain Scoop is another Green brothers project, now taken over by Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History. Host Emily Graslie does brilliant episodes ranging on everything from taxidermy to evolution, occasionally bringing in experts or introducing various museum collections to the audience. One of her most notable episodes deals directly with women who make (or as it happens, don’t make, and why) educational STEM content, but one of my recent favorites is about the common misconception that Dimetrodon is a dinosaur – it isn’t.

CrashCourse is the last Green project I’ll pimp, series of educational playlists covering science, psychology, US and world history, and literature. Obviously I’m biased in favor of the last three.



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