YouTube As A Historical Source:
As technology continues to change the way we see the world and access it’s information, many new tools become available to researchers every year. YouTube is a source that gives access to a vast amount of digital footage with no access fee, or required membership. In February of 2005, YouTube first went live, to an almost instant buzz. In 2006 YouTube was named Time Magazine’s Person Of The Year, and was then subsequently purchased by Google; causing YouTube to sometimes be called GooTube. This source of music videos and newest viral videos can also provide a plethora of educational sources. With YouTube’s search engine you can find all items in their database relevant to your topic. YouTube also offers a comment and review section for each of its streaming files, which facilitates conversation about the topics as well as constructive criticism for the producers of the file.
This type of open forum for ideas and creative learning is what technology offers scholarly endeavors; open forum sites such as YouTube facilitate learning. There is an immense amount of network documentaries as well as privately produced works on a copious amount of topics through the viewpoint of multiple disciplines such as History, Anthropology, Archaeology, Education, Travel, and Economy; this puts knowledge in a very accessible forum. A large collection of documentary productions by networks such as PBS, BBC, History, and NJN can all be accessed on YouTube. Many scholars are as well posting their presentation slides, footage of lectures, as well as there own documentary style works on the site.
There is a downfall to this public forum for information, anyone regardless of credentials can post any information on YouTube as long as it is not deemed offensive or contains copyrighted content. This leaves some of the information presented by YouTube sources up for debate. Any person, even an extremist with no supporting evidence, can post content that may be perceived as fact by uninformed viewers. There are as well “Mockumentaries” that cover topics in humorous ways, and sometimes the program covers a fictional occurrence or individual.
YouTube can be an invaluable research tool for an informed user; however, someone who is not willing to check the credibility of the source and its background material could easily be fooled by some of the more well made and creative fake histories that have been created. YouTube like many other free Internet sources like Wikipedia can be extremely useful, but the proper steps need to be taken to insure the information’s validity.