Viral internet videos have no bias. If something is interesting, then it is exactly that and people can’t help but watch and share. It’s now known that one sure way of getting information, i.e. scientific information, to the rest of the world is by creating lively and enticing videos. The popular “white board” animations have been on the internet for a while, which have allowed many to create their own interpretations. Although, like most things on the internet, some are more successful than others. It deems worth it to find out what those differences are.
AsapSCIENCE is a very popular blog (almost 7 Million subscribers) written by Mitchel Moffit (@mitchellmoffit) and Gregory Brown (@whalewatchmeplz). So popular in fact, that Mr. Bill Nye himself, is featured in some of their videos. It’s no wonder he’s in them, since these videos have a clever way of creeping science literacy into the popular eye via social media. Each video is easy to watch, quick, and entertainging live white-board drawings. Not only are they fun to watch visually, but they are usually about a familiar and curious phenomenon; the things almost all of us have thought about, and yet, we may still haven’t investigated it for ourselves (hence hankering to our curiosity). And the great thing is, AsapSCIENCE tells us what we want to know without us having to look it up. Furthermore, all the videos leave us with a satisfying answer. Including answers to questions like: “Why Are You Always Tired?” “Are You Above or Below Average?” “Are Boys Smarter than Girls?”, and going as far as “Is Your Sexual Fantacy Normal?” and “Does Everybody Have a Gay Gene?”
Video by AsapSCIENCE
And then there is this video, posted by Cold Spring Harbor Lab, a research facility located on Long Island, NY. This video, which is the only video of it’s kind amongst all their other YouTube videos on their channel, it borrows the same idea as AsapSCIENCE. That is, it consists of colorful, live white-board drawings, to get (and keep) viewers interested. Except it is not a topic that most of the public thinks about. Instead, it’s about Spinal Muscular Atrophy, something only a select number of people probably even know about. Mostly those who have the disease, or know people who have it. Thanks to it’s colorful, hand drawn delivery, once you play it someone who neither has it or knows someone who has it, they might actually find themselves learning about something they didnt even know existed, dispite it’s heavy vocabulary.
Video by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
Osmosis’ videos on the other hand are not exactly meant for the general public. They use the live white-board drawing approach to make it easy to watch, mixed with the learning style like that of Khan Academy. That’s because it’s meant for students learning medical topics. The public might find these videos interesting if they had a specific question, but it’s filled with science goodies that probably won’t be useful to them.
Video by Osmosis
Now, when it comes to full-blown animation, it’s so easy to be stiff and dull (attributes that white-board drawings are meant to avoid). And when it comes to science, there really is no reason to be either of those things. TED-Ed animations are never that way. Each video, with their millions of views, they take live drawings to a new level about scientific questions that are interesting for beyond every-day human curiosity, with titles like “How Does the Heart Pump Blood?”, “Addiction”, “Why Do We Dream?”. Those animations poke at the potential scholar in all of us. TED-Ed animations are like the National Geographic of the internet, they earn some kind of respect, and if they were glossy magazines, they’d be proudly collected in sets that live on the shelf like a trophy. This is what white-board animations are living up to, the animations that seem to express more control and imagination, at the loss of that “human” touch of learning like we all did when we were students in a class room.
Video by TED-Ed
The white-board animation does give you a nostalgic sense, one of maybe that time when you really learned something from a teacher in class. And if that is the hook that draws you in, it’s the live drawing that keeps you there. There is something mesmerizing about seeing a line become a shape that becomes a recognizable illusion of an object. And it’s those illusions that put together the concept from illustrator to viewer.