2022 Stanford Summer Session Courses

History of YouTube

Since its launch in 2005, YouTube has become the second most visited website in the world, with more than 1 billion monthly users. It has influenced the worlds of entertainment, politics, and business alike. It has launched the careers of A-list celebrities while also creating an entirely new celebrity ecosystem. It has become a crucial political tool for presidential candidates and political subcultures alike. In the process, it has upended the entertainment industry and much of its business model. From the beginning, it has also been a source of controversy, raising questions about its role in promoting cyberbullying, radicalization, and harmful content. This course will provide an overview of the platform’s cultural history. Drawing on communication studies, media theory, and science and technology studies, we will explore how the platform has evolved in its seventeen years of existence, and how it has influenced, and been influenced by, its cultural and political environment. Students will be introduced to concepts such as participatory culture, microcelebrity, and platform politics. We will grapple with questions such as: how have YouTube’s new technological features shaped the culture of the platform, and vice versa? How does community function on the platform, and how has that changed over time? And how have YouTube’s content policies affected each of these dynamics? As we address these questions, we will come to grapple with the broader concerns of what it means to be a platform online and why a history of platforms matters.


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Estimated Tuition

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Students who take Summer Session courses are awarded Stanford credit. Course costs are set by the university, based on number of units.
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