Daniel Liddle: Diving into the YouTube pool

Jan 4, 2024 | Spotlight

(Editor’s note: Image provided by Daniel Liddle.)

By Grace Gonzales

Daniel Liddle, assistant professor in the English Department at Western Kentucky University, earned his doctorate, in Rhetoric and Composition from Purdue University in 2018. 

He was a graduate teaching assistant at Purdue before coming to fWKU in 2017. He teaches three graduate and nine undergraduate classes. Liddle participates in community service as a web editor for “Penned to Pin On Bowling Green,” a poetry site as a digital editor since 2020. He is also a content creator for “More Than memos,” a YouTube channel that focuses on journals and books in the communication filed since 2021. 

He received the Wilson Wood Professorship award by the WKU English Department and has presented at multiple conferences — one of those a technical writing and professional communications presentation titled “Analyzing YouTube Content: Methodological Considerations for Technical Communication Research” at the ACM International Conference on Design of Communication in October 2023. 

This presentation was one of the most recent academic endeavors for Liddle. And while it won’t be found in his Curriculum Vitae, comedy is a passion of Liddle’s. While he did not pursue it for long or professionally, it is something that integrates itself into his current career and studies. 

Q.: Are you working on new research or are you continuing any previous research?

A.: I am doing two studies on writing, specifically with YouTube. I want to figure out when people look to YouTube for information about writing like when they look for information on technical writing what do they find? So, like what I don’t know is a lot of times people don’t like to read, surprise. Which is good and we should embrace, but if we’re just writing 1,000 blog posts on why you should study writing, what is technical writing when people are just putting it into YouTube maybe we should look at what that space is telling them. And then is that good. First we can look at what is it and then is that good. So I have one study on technical writing specifically and technical communication. And then I’m having a different thing just about writing at all to see what is YouTube’s vision of like writing help and what people go to for that. I’m about to start working on an article about AI with my friend. I just got an article excepted with the minorist of revisions on Covid Death visualizations.” 

Q.: Is there any study you’re doing right now that you want to delve into?

A.: I really think the Covid Death counting one is important because a lot of people when they think about covid visualizations, they think about dash boards, so like is the infection rate going up is it going down and a lot of the research is like how do we give people actionability. So, like when they see a visualization does it help them like mask up or social distance or how does it get them to like do a thing. Whereas these visualizations I was looking at are just literally ‘there are 500,000 people dead here is how you understand that number.’ And there’s not really an action to that. Like there not like there’s 500,000 people dead so mask up like they never say that directly. So, there were some ways of saying there were two goals. One was to like make people feel emotions like there is this many people dead here’s how you grieve. And then another type is there are 500,000 people dead here’s how you understand the scale of that number.”

Q.: How do you find a way to continue doing comedy?

A.: So, like in grad school, I hosted the department talent show for a bunch of years because they were like ‘Dan, can go up and just talk for a while and then get out of it.’ So there is a lot of that and then there are some events where I talk for a bit and then be done. I also think that there’s something to comedy and teaching that’s like how do you lead people through an idea. And how do you like on the teaching side how do you lead them through an idea and make sure it connects and that the idea itself is entertaining in some way. On the comedy sid, I really think there is a lot of crowd listening to it that I learned. There was a lot of trying to find are people listening, when do people have questions, when is the audience lost even if they’re not laughing. Like I would say even in class when it’s completely silent I still want to have a sense of ‘Are they with me?’ That’s probably my biggest comedic instinct.”

Q.: Do you think comedy is something you would want to travel back to, or do you feel satisfied with what you’re doing?

A.: I’m kind of good where I’m at. I think both comedy and teaching have a specific muscle that you have to like exercise and go through. And I don’t think I’m really interested in doing a bunch of bad sets to get that muscle working again. Whereas teaching, I feel like I know that muscle I enjoy that muscle plus, I feel like for me my philosophy is both standup comedy and teaching need to be engaging and have a sense of responsibility. I think some professors would say it doesn’t need to be engaging and some comedians would say it doesn’t have to have responsibility. But I think like the teaching side is easier for me to say that there’s a responsibility and an ethic. And that people are taking something, and that thing is valuable — that when students leave my classroom, they change the way they think about a thing in a way I wish comedy embraced. So almost like teaching is the best type of comedy if that makes sense.”

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