I is for Interested..

Now this can be a bit of a curse, especially with the discovery channel and YouTube.

There is so much freely available information. To make it more interesting, quite a lot of it is wrong. Not always totally wrong. But often inaccurate or misleading. The now legendary Encyclopedia  Britannica collection in most aspiring households has been rendered obsolete by Wikipedia’s growth. Without fully understanding how it works, it’s fair to assume if you are reading a blog, Wikipedia needs no introduction. But. And I know it’s a poor show to start a sentence with either of those words, but, it’s readily editable by anyone who can be bothered to register. Regardless of their expertise or political leaning. Britannica had a good reputation, although it could be dated. Wiki is not so reliable, but is a good starting point.

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(This is not a picture of me. In the free to use photo section, there appears to be little demand for grumpy overweight blokes peering at books. Just have to make do…..)

The discovery channel is great entertainment dressed up as vaguely educating. It usually entertains, even if you have to watch out for the words could, might be, and one day.

As a human, there are certain basic needs that have to be met, water, shelter, food being the basic building blocks of life. The Discovery channel is a long way down that list, but if the basics have been met, the need to stimulate the few pounds of soggy grey matter behind the eyes becomes more important.

I sometimes wish I could be interested or even fanatical about watching sports. That is well catered for. Doing sport is ok, good sometimes, watching it does not sit well with me. Watching live sport has a number of drawbacks, watching it on a small screen is not my beverage of choice. Simply put, watching a person pushing the limits of physical endurance, whilst slumped in a near vegetative state, consuming a steady stream of high calorie, high sugar crap, just seems wrong. Maybe I should watch the cycling from a static trainer, or the athletics while on a treadmill, not sure how I could watch Rallycross, other than throw myself off the chair occasionally.

But people do get interested in being a spectator, i’m just not sure how. Hence, the tendency to get interested in many different things, none of which are mainstream, and frankly only of interest to myself. The curse is to have a butterfly mentality, flitting from thing to thing, dependent on mood, weather and how much coin there is in my pocket.

Take art of example. I like doing art, making pictures, chasing pigment all over the page, that sort of thing. My art, my connection.  I have limited interest in watching art, like spending hours at a gallery. I am just not that deeply connected to it, or more likely, have that deeper level of understanding.

Or I will spend hours watching or reading about history.  If I go someplace, and have a bit of knowledge about the history of it, I will try to find some sort of physical connection. Literally touching the wall. The defeat of the Nazi’s in Berlin was a lot less abstract to me once I had touched the Reichstag building. The Cold war more real when I walked along what’s left of the Berlin wall. Suffering and crises was real at a Romanian state orphanage in the early 1990’s. The Iron age becomes more tangible when you walk around an abandoned hill fort.

And I have no idea why.

Y is for YouTube.

YouTube….how much fun is this place? Want to know how to milk a goat? Look it up, and three hours later you can find yourself watching a comparison between the 1982 Metro 1.1l and the Metro Vanden plas, and wondering why?

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Some point out it is a threat to mainstream broadcasting. Since these folk rely on mainstream broadcasts as a job, it’s understandable that they feel under threat. Pretty much anyone with a means of capturing digital video, and an internet connection, can become a broadcaster.

This should be bringing down corrupt governments, and creating massive social change for the betterment of humankind all over the world.

But its not.

This is possibly because watching a video of a strangers cat sitting in a box in more entertaining than listening to some passionate but naive political activist. It’s about choice. We will default to stuff we are comfortable about, and stuff that obviously or subliminally reassures us that we are OK, and others feel and think like we do. It creates a sense of belonging, or being part of the tribe. We are only a few tens of thousands of years away from being groups of chimpanzees, we like to belong, to be part of something, to be comfortable and protected by the group… we default to what makes us comfortable.

Generally speaking.

Like it or loathe it, it’s the medium of this age.

Want to listen to music that’s not on the radio?  YouTube. I am listening to Peter Gabriel as I write. Simply because I can. Want to see how to bleed a radiator without flooding the room? YouTube will show you how. Want to learn how to play the guitar, yep, thousands of video tutorials. You know where to look..

This beast has teeth. A very few have become briefly famous, by laying their lives bare. Vlogging is a thing. Some lives are frankly more interesting than others. The boundaries of acceptability are being pushed at and prodded on a daily basis. Some will stoop to all manner of stupidity for their shot at a brief moment of fame. A few have tragically gone too far, and won’t ever do it again, or anything else for that matter.

Humans are collectively an aggressive and bellicose species, and live behind a thin layer of civility. We are still killing each other over fairly simple disagreements, or commodities. It was not that long ago our ancestors paid to watch men slug it out to the death, for entertainment.  

If some fool wants to risk his or her life, and film it for free entertainment, we, collectively, will support him, and feed his addiction, by watching his content.

I will made a few predictions about YouTube, based purely on my own views, experiences and prejudices.

It will continue to grow. There are thousands of wannabes who are loading content every hour of every day, trying to be noticed. With a few exceptions, they generally look, sound and feel the same. It will not stop. Teenage Vloggers are legion. It will continue to grow with instructional content, some of which will actually be useful, and factually correct.  

There will be a massive growth in short films, of all genres, some of which will put the big production houses, to shame. The more talented directors and actors will be funded by a mix of  sponsorship and the virtual passing round of the cap, or tip jar. This will actually open the industry to raw talent, those who can deliver, but are not prepared to follow the traditional industry bullshit. YouTube will level that playing field to a degree.

The best content will behind a paywall, at a Netflix type subscription rate. This is creeping in with patron, but there is room for improvement, and frankly some of the content producers should be on YouTube’s payroll, given the amount of revenue they must generate. I believe YouTube will cultivate more of the talent using its platform, and the rest of us would enjoy the higher standards.

Automatic translations will continue to erode at the worst of nationalism, we will understand each other just a bit more.

The major news media companies will try to take more control. They are recognising their slow loss of influence, and with it, their power. Most of us with a handful of functioning brain cells know the big media news and newspapers have been telling what to think for years, to suit their political ambitions, or advertisers, or a mixture of both. I cannot be the only one to wonder why there are more words and pictures about a Kardashian’s bum, than there are about the failure of many governments to prevent wholesale corruption and theft of tax revenues.

I am aware of the border line rant about to erupt from this keyboard, so let’s wind it in and bring it back.

YouTube has a number of wonderful quirky and eccentric channels. It has a lot of drivel as well.

I would commend you to be selective about who you support, but those who are worthy of your six to ten minutes, are those you may wish to consider supporting. A comment, a couple quid in their tip jar, share those videos that entertain or move you. That will help generate more content you want to see, and spread a little happiness.

You’all have a nice day.