To be completely honest with all of you, I never thought that one day I would build my opinions primarily based on one singular source, let alone a random channel on YouTube. That is one slippery slope I would never want to fall in. I mean, that’s how conspiracists are born. When you get your information from one source, not only are you confining yourself to a singular perspective, you are also conditioned to think like the origin of information and become its puppet. That is why I approached Kurzgesagt, a Munich-based YouTube channel, with a skeptical mindset. Of course, educational channels aren’t usually biased if you talk about areas where subjectivity isn’t at play. But Kurzgesagt is an all-encompassing wellspring of literally everything: politics, biology, philosophy, lifestyle… So how did they tackle the role of digital education to the masses and eventually become one of the most well-liked YouTube channels?
For this blog post, I want to show you my journey to becoming a hardcore fan of Kurzgesagt and my valuable takeaway from this thought-provoking and insightful channel. If you have never heard of this channel, well, why not give it a try after reading the blog?
Kurzgesagt – what on earth is it?
Kurzgesagt was first created in 2013 by Philipp Dettermer shortly after graduating from university. The first video, “How Evolution Works,” is an 11-minutes-long video with an appealing minimalistic art style and narrated by Steven Taylor, who continues to be Kurzgesagt’s exclusive narrator until today. As the working team grows bigger and bigger, Kurzgesagt is now the most prominent European science educational channel with more than 16 million subscribers and active fan communities on Discord and Reddit.
The channel’s name derives from the German kurz-gesagt (IPA: [ˈkʊɐ̯ts gəˈzaːkt]), which, when taken literally, translates to “shortly said.” The English equivalent of this phrase would translate to ‘in a few words’ or ‘in a nutshell,’ the latter being used as an English subtitle for the channel’s name.“Kurzgesagt,” in Wikipedia, October 4, 2021, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Kurzgesagt&oldid=1048163532.
The Wikipedia page provides an adequate explanation of the channel’s naming (as we all know that German have a word for literally anything). As its name prescribes, Kurzgesagt aims to provide a simple yet accurate explanation for complicated matters in videos no more than a dozen minutes long.
Why is Kurzgesagt different?
Now let’s get real. Why is Kurzgesagt different? What makes it stand out from the thousands of other educational channels on YouTube?
One of the fundamental assets of Kurzgesagt is its consistency in uniqueness. Sure, the art style has changed significantly in the past eight years, but the channel still maintains its core minimalism and straightforwardness. The voiceover, the format of which content is presented, the graphics, the soundtrack, the mascots (AKA adorable birds) has always been the same, if not better by every video. Their belief remains unchanged in years, and such consistency in high-quality production made many realize that there is no BS in Kurzgesagt, only factual data made interesting.
Kurzgesagt is also ethical and trustworthy (at least in my very humble opinion). In the metavideo “Can You Trust Kurzgesagt,” the team acknowledges how in a fast-growing digital world, people tend to rely more on online content creators than mainstream media and that Kurzgesagt strives to maintain the trust of their audience by being factual. Sometimes the channel would even make metareference to how many experts they have driven insane by their sheer dedication to accuracy. When making any statement, Kurzgesagt would always refer to academic source(s) in the bottom right of the screen, and with that always a “further reading” page linked in every video description, attached with a bibliography. Moreover, for some of its most famous videos, such as “Loneliness,” the production team would also recommend publications that can further your knowledge at the end of videos. That is to say, Kurzgesagt does not indoctrinate its viewers to their point of view but always encourages them to learn more beyond the crash courses. When the production team wants to introduce their own sentiments, they will always be marked as “Kurzgesagt’s view” so the viewers can separate them from the presented facts.
Opinion time: my own takeaway
Are you like me and have been having those crazy ideas about blowing up the entire moon, or what if elephants are the size of a mouse? If that’s the case, Kurzgesagt have you covered. Besides making educational videos on sizes of the stars, they also have videos on crazy and wild thought experiments that sometimes don’t even have a takeaway (hey! Just for fun). Kurzgesagt treats ideas that would’ve been otherwise ignored very seriously, through which many (me included) become fond of their well-timed humor and rigid attitude for science.
While Kurzgesagt is well-known for inducing existential crises, I would actually argue that it is necessary to have that nudge once in a while to know that life is beyond what you see right now. The current anxiety I’m having on exams will mean nothing in two weeks or twenty years. When watching Kurzgesagt videos, I truly feel how a soul-crushing realization that the universe is beyond my grasp or even grasp of humanity as a whole. And it’s pretty amazing to think that a mere ten minutes of moving imagery on your computer can stir up so much emotion, but I suppose that is the wonder of a digital society.
 “5 YouTube Channels to Keep You Learning,” August 20, 2018, https://www.canberra.edu.au/alumni/home/canvas-articles/posts/5-youtube-channels-to-keep-you-learning.
 “Kurzgesagt – In a Nutshell – YouTube,” accessed October 17, 2021, https://www.youtube.com/.
“5 YouTube Channels to Keep You Learning,” August 20, 2018. https://www.canberra.edu.au/alumni/home/canvas-articles/posts/5-youtube-channels-to-keep-you-learning. “
Kurzgesagt.” In Wikipedia, October 4, 2021. https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Kurzgesagt&oldid=1048163532.
“Kurzgesagt – In a Nutshell – YouTube.” Accessed October 17, 2021. https://www.youtube.com/.