YouTube as Anthropological Data: An Analysis of the Emma Chamberlain Channel

Project by: Wendy Salto (student)

Assignment Prompt:

The archaeological relative dating method of seriation is often taught with American colonial material examples such as that of New England cemeteries and gravestone design changes over time, as popularized by the historical archaeologist James Deetz (1930-2000) in his seminal work, In Small Things Forgotten: An Archaeology of Early American Life (1996).

In this timeline demo assignment, students were tasked with selecting a Youtube channel of their choice to employ as a data-set for considering issues of typology and viewership popularity over time while building historically contingent object arguments.

Cait Kennedy hosted a TimelineJS Workshop and created sample assignment templates.

Student Process Paper:

For some quick background, the creator I selected for this timeline project was Emma Chamberlain. She is a well-known YouTube star that became famous because of her funny and uniquely quirky content. She also is very popular on other social media apps, such as Instagram and Tik Tok. She started her own coffee company that recently has been rebranded. She uses the introductions of her videos to market her coffee.

Her videos consist of DIY/ tutorials, food commentary, and vlog style videos. The rationale in classifying content this way is based on the types of titles she chooses for the videos and the photo she uses for the thumbnails. Moreover, they were also selected and categorized like this because Emma herself groups a few of her videos in playlists with similar categories. I chose these styles of videos to represent the channel because they seem to be some consistent type of content that she produces almost every week or bi-weekly.

Her most popular videos would arguably be those in which she collaborates with other well-known creators. However, I did not chose to focus on this category because I wanted to focus on her and the types of videos that she produces consistently and has had as part of her channel since early days. Finding information for the timeline was somewhat easy. I only struggled because after a while I started to overthink my idea to the point where I was confused if I was doing the assignment correctly. However, it was easy to find the number of subscribers, views, likes and dislikes which were necessary for me to know to analyze the different video types and their popularity in comparison to each other. My understanding definitely changed because I thought that her most popular videos initially would be those where she mentions and included name brand things, such as the food commentary where she rates popular food restaurants. This idea was quickly debunked because her most popular video type out of these three video categories are her vlogs. This might have to do with the items she includes, her thumbnail choices, and the titles of the videos. The titles are very attention catching.

After this assignment I am left wondering if this trend is similar for other channels or only a trend that is seen with her. Her vlogs are very personal which might also draw her audience to be more compelled to stay tuned for that type of content over the other category of videos that she curates.

Co-creators:

Professor Guzman
Cait Kennedy

This projected is associated with the course: AMST-265-90-F20

Project Type: Timeline

Website: TimelineJS Project Studying Archaeological Concept of Seriation with YouTube Channel Analysis URL: https://cdn.knightlab.com/libs/timeline3/latest/embed/index.html?source=11bVtcBoACCWEeHqYuS5ZBP_w_xt_G447-PikhFnpfV8&font=Default&lang=en&initial_zoom=2&height=650

Download project file, if available:

Rights Statement: All rights reserved under U.S. Copyright Law.

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