What's Up Wednesdays: Smart YouTube Channels

When I do this speedlink most weeks, it consists of interesting blog posts from around the Internet. This week is a little different. Many people may look to YouTube as a source of cat videos and mindless distraction. They might enjoy watching some of the random videos I post. Today, we’re taking a look at some of the smartest YouTube channels that not only entertain, but they also educate and help to broaden your horizons.

We start off with a channel that I only recently discovered: Nerd Writer. The content is remarkably varied and thoroughly thought-out. In one video, we tackle the ethical question of whether to give money to aggressive panhandlers. In another video, we analyze the painting “The Death of Socrates” by Jacques-Louis David. He also takes a look at more contemporary art, like dissecting emotional theory as depicted in Pixar’s Inside Out.

If you’re really into the art of film and want to dive deeper into the analysis of different movies, then you really need to go through the entirety of Every Frame a Painting. Far too often, we forget just how carefully crafted each frame in a movie might be and how many very conscious decisions are made to guide our interpretation of a story. When I watched the movie Drive three years ago, I didn’t even realize how glaringly obvious was the use of the “quadrant” system.

To gain a firmer and more comprehensive understanding of any subject, you likely have to go through years of school and innumerable books. If you want to get at just the gist of a subject in a matter of minutes, then Crash Course is for you. Run by the same Green brothers as the ones behind Mental Floss, Crash Course condenses subjects in a way that’s way easier for the layman to understand. Want to know about income equality and just how profound it has become? They’ve got that, along with politics, science and more.

Speaking of science, I was initially drawn to the Big Think channel on YouTube because of theoretical physicist Michio Kaku. The presentation of most of the videos on this channel, at least up until recently, have been little more than a talking head against a plain white background. And yet, it’s terribly engaging and thought provoking. Have you ever considered what it would really mean if we could teleport someone from one location to another? Or why we like Darth Vader more than Superman?

Another channel that demystifies some otherwise very mystifying subject matter is In a Nutshell – Kurzgesagt. Many of us would like to know what’s going on in the news, but we have neither the time nor the patience to fully research the context of these stories. Most recently, the Syrian refugee crisis has come front and center… but it’s not like this happened overnight. On this channel, you’ll also learn about addiction, dark energy, how banking works and so much more.

Do you have any favorite YouTube channels that provide your fix of edutainment?