Date of Award

May 2022

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science



First Advisor

Thomas M Malaby

Committee Members

Erica L Bornstein, Stuart A Moulthrop


Algorithms, Content Creators, Digital Culture, Online Communities of Practice, YouTube


In this thesis, I answer the following questions: How do YouTube content creators learncontent creation through their practice and participation in communities of practice? How do these communities help creators form identity? And, lastly, how do the YouTube’s automated systems shape creators’ practice and impact their identity? To explore these questions, I observed a community of new creators to understand how creators learned about content creation from others. I interviewed 11 YouTube creators that ranged in size of viewership and experience to understand how they personally adapted their content to the platform of YouTube as they create videos. I find that creators create a situated practice drawing form a bricolage of information coming from many sources. I also find that this individual practice and communal practice in creator communities contributes to the process of identification. Both practice and identification are influenced by the strategy that YouTube puts in place through its complex automated systems and algorithms that incentivize creators to make content that is in line with the platform.