10 channels that i’ve picked up over the years as a PhD student. They all feature video essays on the subject of humanities, social science and philosophy. Some more than others.
1. Folding ideas (media & philosophy)
I can’t explain why Folding Ideas is just clever. It has this really curious empathetic tone towards contemporary media, especially the “trash”. For example, the series on Fifty Shades of Grey is just entrancing.
2. PolyMatter (technology & society)
PolyMatter tells stories about complexities of modern society. His series on Apple’s business philosophy is extraordinary, with many of the ideas compiled from the Apple analysis podcast Above Avalon. Also, I love the simple graphical style.
3. Philosophy Tube (philosophy & culture)
A fantastic story-teller in costume half of time. I love philosophy, but not as much as Philosophy Tube and that makes for some great videos.
4. Lindy Beige (history & war)
The british charm of this archeologist is impossible to withstand. The channel is a must for anyone with a remote interest in war and wartime history.
5. Lindsay Ellis (literature & film)
With Lindsay Ellis, Transformers or Disney movies becomes devices for explaining our times. Her three-part “autopsy” on the production of The Hobbit movies must be some of the best, most comprehensive qualitative film analysis on the web. Spoiler alert: She travels to New Zealand herself and interviews the dwarfs about union fights with Warner Brothers studios. Good stuff.
6. Innuendo Studios (media & politics)
7. Errant Signal (games)
Errant Signal doesn’t review video games, he uses them as springboards for thinking. I think he’s one the few, that has explained why Fortnite has such a massive cultural impact.
8. Matt D’Avella (productivity)
I will admit that D’Avella does not cater specifically to social scientists, but he has some great videos on digital productivity. He always has a minimalist’s approach which resonates with me.
9. Veritasium (science & education)
Although technically a natural science channel, Veritasium is most interested in how to communicate science. I’ve used several of his videos for teaching scientific theories, especially on Bayes’ theorem and the coastline paradox.
10. CGP Grey (media & politics)
It’s hard to describe what CGP Grey does. Everything he picks up is just interesting. Like his series (yes, series) on tumble weed from both a biological, cultural, historical and political perspective - its enthralling. Sometimes he rhymes. He also has a film on how to become the pope.
Bonus. Every Frame a Painting (film)
Although the channel looks dead now, it did produce some of the best, most beautiful, video essays on film of all time. For the interested, it contains the essential guide to video essays. Also, you should watch the one on Kurosawa and movement. Actually, watch all of them.
If YouTube gets too distracting at work, I've written about how to soft and hard block YouTube here.