YouTube suggesting Six Videos at a Time
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YouTube suggesting Six Videos at a Time

Yesterday when looking at YouTube over lunch I noticed that they now show six videos at a time, compared to the 20-30 videos they used to show, back in the good old days. This means that you have six videos to choose from. The algorithm is cutting down our choice constantly from 30 videos down to 20. and now 6.

Pigeon Holed

If we watch one channel’s content then that content will be shown exclusively until we grow tired of it, and then we will have to choose from a dozen or less content creators. Sometimes videos will appear in three or four categories. It’s hard to browse when there is so little choice.

Plenty of Choice

In the days of renting DVDs for a night or two we would go into the shop and there would be a few recommendations but then we could go into the library and search for a while, trying to find content by genre, mood or more. Today that browsing experience is getting worse.

When I look for something to watch on YouTube or Netflix and Prime I want to have a real choice. I want to see a breadth of choice within a single screen. I don’t want to be forced to watch what algorithms force people to watch. If you recommend content because it’s popular, but it’s popular because it has been pushed on people, then it is not popular. It is spoon fed. The algorithms are cheating us and content creators. We’re being cheated because we have no choice, and content creators are cheated because they are invisible.

The Paradox

What I liked about YouTube is that it provided us with a breadth of content to choose from. We might have browsed for a few minutes and skimmed through thousands of videos but we had real choice to find ideal content. Now, with six videos being shown at a time we’re forced to pick out of six. This isn’t choice. This is scarcity. Thousands of hours of content are uploaded to youtube every minute and yet the algorithms get everyone to watch the same thing.

The problem is that I don’t know what I want to watch for half an hour to an hour so I don’t have key words that I want to look for. If I’m forced to see six videos, rather than browse, then I’m likely to give up rather than search. Usually we look at YouTube and similar sites to discover new content.


YouTube wants us to pay for prime but they take our ability to choose. They use algorithms that, because content is pushed on us, become worse and worse with recommendations. We can give feedback, but not proper feedback. I sign up for Prime, enjoy it for a few weeks, and then it becomes toxic and I take a break. The algorithms pigeon hole us, rather than learn about us.

And Finally

I love the medium of video. I love well produced content. I love content of a certain type. Google’s algorithms looks at users and recommends the content that it would give to teenagers to 40 years olds, and vice versa. The recommendation engine knows our age, and our viewing habits over a decade and a half. If people are worried about privacy, just look at ads and YouTube recommendations and you will realise that algorithms know nothing about us. Algorithms, by now, should know that I hate sensationalism. I realise that hating sensationalism is sensationalist. The point is that if recommendations for content are bad, then we are likely to take a break.

The Cow and Pheasant
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The Cow and Pheasant

Today I went for my daily walk and I came across a couple of pheasants. One was female and the other was male. I was actually standing right next to the female and didn’t realise until she flew away from me. I was startled but no more. I was more focused on the male pheasant.

A pheasant near cows
A pheasant near cows

I walked closer, to try to get a clearer photo but didn’t succeed. Instead it went into a field with some cows and when one of the cows noticed it went up to investigate. I thought it was chasing the pheasant and eventually it was. It was an amusing sight to see. A cow running after a pheasant.

it got better. When the pheasant went into the next field the rest of the herd came across to look at the pheasant.

A herd of cows looking at a pheasant
A herd of cows looking at a pheasant
Flying a Toy Plane 22 Miles
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Flying a Toy Plane 22 Miles

James May is interesting. People like me know him from Top Gear and Grand Tour with Clarkson and Hammond but his side projects are interesting. Instead of farming like Clarkson, or driving cars with his daughter Clarkson plays with grown up toys. When I say toys I don’t mean adult cars, planes and more. I mean actual toys. In the video below James May sets himself the project of building a model plane that can fly 22 miles.

The video shows footage of him as a child playing with a model plane, and then as an adult playing with a slightly bigger model plane, then a prototype and then the finished project. In the episode I watched he built and played with a model plane but in others he tries to build other things and succeeds.

What I like about Naked Science, produced by Pioneer TV, is that they produce proper documentaries, rather than breathless crap like so many others do. This is television production quality content, rather than youtube content. I recently noticed that youtube content creactors use the same sound effects, the same music, the same editing, the same chaotic jumble, that makes their content tiring to watch.

In contrast when you watch James May play with model airplanes you get a well produced, well edited, well paced documentary that is interesting to watch. This is a fifty three minute video where you don’t stare at your phone, or get distracted. You watch it from the start to the end without being distracted, or fatigued.

There was a time when I would watch every documentary in the morning, and then do something else on satellite TV. I don’t do this anymore. Too many programs are designed to distract people from adverts so they’re constantly repeating themselves.

I loved watching Mythbusters but that was the decline of Discovery Channel Documentary making.

What makes James May’s Naked Science shows stand out is that they are watchable by a “dinosaur” like me. When a documentary is well paced, and edited to be watched without commercial breaks it becomes engaging. YouTubers should strive to make content that is equal to television rather than scrape the barrel of throwaway culture.

And Finally

The premise of my post is simple. We live under the illusion that content has to be sensationalist to be worth watching, and we live under the illusion that youtube content needs to be sensationalist to stand out but that notion is wrong. Television quality content should be edited and produced to be shared on YouTube. In this day and age the notion that something has to be two minutes is wrong. The notion that something has to be in “YouTube style” to be noticed on YouTube is wrong. In my eyes we should produce long form content that is well produuced, for YouTube and social media.

YouTube is big enough for content that appeals to my generation and others to be produced and thrived. Algorithms should take this onboard. I want YouTube’s algorithms to provide me with content that is relevant to my age group and interests. I want more content recommendations such as the video above.

Experimenting with Linux

Experimenting with Linux

This morning when I should have been working on the daily blog post I decided to install Ubuntu on an external hard drive to see if it still worked as I remembered it working. It does, sort of.

There are two approaches. You could install Linux straight onto the internal HD of a mac device but if you do, and you encounter problems then it could take hours to fix your mistake. With an exteranl disk in target drive mode you can experiment to your heart’s content with an SSD that you can wipe, and reformat, and start again, if something messes up badly.

It also gives you a chance to check that wifi, the keyboard, and other things are still working well. In my case I found that wifi is not working with my mac book pro so I need to trouble shoot this. The advantage is that once I finish experimenting I can switch back to the internal HD via the option key, at boot, and I’m back in Mac land. There is the advantage that if you boot into Linux it will keep booting into linux until you tell it not to, and then your Linux box becomes a Mac once again.


With Windows you have WSL to play with, if you want to practice with using the command line. It offers a good oppportunity but it’s limited in that you can’t experiment as easily with a GUI.

Raspberry Pi

I find that Pi are great for experimenting. What makes them great is that they’re cheap, especially if you want to use them with Ubuntu Server rather than various GUIs. The advantage of using Pi is that you can experiment with single app setups like PhotoPrismPi, NextCloudPi, HomeAssistantPi and more

You can also experiment with installing ubuntu server, snap installing Nextcloud, adding docker, and then adding Immich, PhotoPrism and Audiobookshelf.

If you come from the windows or Mac world you think “but that’s easy, just install app one, then app two and then app three and you’re done. You’re not. When you install apps they install what they require. If you install nextcloud via snap it becomes the default localhost site, and photoprism sticks to :2342, audiobookshelf to :13378, pi-hole to /admin and so on.

The advantage of having Nextcloud on the locahost route is that you can then add “external websites” that point to the other services that are running in paralel. This allows people to navigate, without having to remember port numbers.

Linux is Stable

The key difference between Linux and MacOS and Windows is that Linux requires you to install the OS, rather than buying it pre-installed in most cases. This is the barrier to entry. If Linux machines were as common as Macs and Windows machines people would use them more often. Linux is stable. Once it is configured correctly it runs for weeks, months or even years without crashing, and without needing to reboot.

Linux is Flexible

The point of using WSL, Pi devices and target drives is that it gives you great flexibility to experiment and fix things, if they break, and restart from scratch if you can’t fix them. If approach A doesn’t work, you try approach B, and then C, until you get something that works.

By taking notes, along the process you develop a work flow to install servers with services as you want them to run. Initially I needed one Pi per service. With trial and error I can get one Pi to do everything, so I should consolidate all the services onto one device.


The advantage of having the Mac Book Pro running Ubuntu is that I can then install KDEnlive and experiment with this open source video editor. As the Mac Book Pro is made obsolete so the opportunity to experiment with an open source version is all the more interesting. I wanted to build a video editing system on Linux and soon that is what I will have.

And Finally

Originally I was using a one terabyte SSD as a Time machine backup drive. Recently as I spent time freeing space on disks and moving things around I decided in install Linux on that SSD. Now I have a mac that can run either macOS or Linux, depending on which option I choose at boot. The advantage of using an SSD, rather than a spinning drive, is that it can be moved, while on, whereas a spining disk should only be moved, once it stops spinning.

I have been using Ubuntu on a Pi5 and it works well for almost everything, but if I can use a Mac Book pro then I have more power and flexibility, and it becomes portable. I can then switch the Pi 5 to Ubuntu Server and it will be stable enough to run for weeks or months between crashes or reboots.

WSL is good for command line experience and practice. Pis are good for simple apps, but a mac book pro running KDendlive is a good opportunity to finally reach my desire of editing video on an open source solution.

The Dystopia of Child Influencers
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The Dystopia of Child Influencers

Today I saw the headline “Content creator camps help kids become online influencers” and to me, this represents a nightmare, rather than a dream. It represents a nightmare rather than a dream because the notion of creating content to sell, to influence, and to market, rather than to amuse, inform, educate and entertain seems wrong.

YouTube and Instagram are awful. They’re awful because people are creating content to get views, likes and subscribers, rather than to produce individual videos of special interest. Social media should first and foremost be about connecting people, having conversations and establishing strong bonds, that, with time, become friendships in the physical world, rather than online. People should create content that is fun and entertaining.

On YouTube, Instagram and other platforms people create a video where they keep saying “Don’t forget to like and subscribe, more than once. In some videos they tell us to do this at the start of a video, and again half way through, before telling us to do it at the end. In many circles, and for people of my generation that practice is clearly spamming. I’m curious about views, and comments, but I don’t give a flying duck about likes and subscribes. That’s not why I create content. My aim is to share moments, nice sites, thoughts and experiences. It is not to be a binfluencer. I have no desire to be a binfluencer.

There was a time when I hoovered up YouTube content, watching up to three or four hours a day. Eventually I stopped. At the time content was content, and it was fun and interesting to watch. With Google Prime I found that everything that was being pushed on me was junk with millions of views. In one series of YouTube videos the idiot drew one eyed trouser snakes in everything he did. In another the person always did eccentric things, that eventually bored me. In a third case I saw that an English content creator created a clickbait headline. Before that I liked the content, and after that I blocked the channel from being recommended.

It’s the same with Instagram influencers. I went to Instagram to share nice photographs from my walks and adventuress. With the coming of Facebook, binfluencers, and more there was a cultural shift to the illusion of opulence, rather than ordinary life. As more and more junk was pushed towards me I quit. Is that really what we want to teach children and teenagers?

The Alternative

People shouldn’t be taught to be influencers. They should be taught to be creative artists. They should be taught about the art of film, documentary and television. They should be taught about story telling, about editing, continuity, shot types, sizes and more. They should be taught how to write good scripts and more. They should be taught to create content that is not just about views, likes and subscriptions. They should be taught to create individual pieces that are beautiful to watch, or interesting to watch. It shouldn’t be about selling. It should be about living in the moment. It should be about fun and pleasure.

I recently found a photography group on Facebook where skilled photographers share photographs because of their love of beautiful images. As I look at those images, and given that to have Facebook and Instagram would cost 15CHF per month, rather than 9CHF, I would be tempted to dump Instagram, since so much of that content is influencer garbage.

The Significance

In previous decades film and television were well-funded mediums that people invested their time and money in. There was the notion of being media professionals, of high production values and more. Now we have shifted towards a different age. It’s the age of the Cult of The Amateur, as Andrew Keen called it in the zeros but it’s also the age of community video on an international scale. To a large degree binfluencers are making community videos that have global reach. Instead of aiming for work in film and television people are going for the bottom of the barrel, social media.

It’s the Goal, Rather than the Medium

In the 21st century, whether you use iPhone Pro Max like Apple for its keynote, or a broadcast camera, doesn’t make much difference on a laptop or mobile phone screen. It’s only on 4k, UHD or Apple Vision Pro that it will make a difference. Rather than creating content for the pleasure of working with the medium people are creating content to sell. They’re being trained to spam and market, rather than enjoy the medium for what it is.

The Danger

If you search for influencer on Google News you will find stories about people endangering themselves with horses, dying after liposuction, gyms banning selfies, and more. I just searched for “influencer”, nothing more.

Financial Risk

To be a social media influencer you need to get a mobile phone, probably the highest spec possible. You also need to buy your own camera gear, sound equipment, edit suites, and more. You also need to pay for transport, accommodation and more. Social media influencers take on all of the financial risk, without any of the guarantees on the other side. You might spend thousands on creating a dream experience, but if it’s not picked up by normal users, then that money was wasted.

In conventional broadcasting models people come up with an idea, sell the idea, and it’s someone else that puts the money forward and accepts the financial risk. It might take more time to pitch ideas and get funding but in the end you’re paid as a content creator, for creating content, rather than after the fact, for behaving like a spammer. “Please hit the like button, click the bell and punch the subscribe button” when said in every video, is spam. Writing clickbait headlines is spam. Catering to the algorithms, rather than creating content for the sake of content is spam.

Clickbait Headlines

Almost every video on YouTube that is recommended on the front page is written as clickbait. It uses sensationalism, as well as titles that give a glimmer of what the content is about, without telling you. The headlines are sensationalist, rather than factually relevant. “I crossed the Deadliest Jungle”, “girls smile in front of their graves…”, “10 things you must never do with your watch” and more. All of these headlines are designed to make you click, without giving you the reason behind the click. Clickbait.

A Quick TikTok Mention

Plenty of influencers use TikTok but for me this isn’t a video sharing site. It’s thousands of people doing the same dance to the same song at the same time, to be like everyone else, without anyone having a conversation or dialogue. I saw something about book TikTok and more, but to find these conversations takes time and effort.

Facebook Reels

Instagram and Facebook have reels and I almost never watch them because they’re usually short, tabloid videos. Their only reason to be is to inflate views, likes and spam habits. It is more sensationalist rubbish.

And Finally

Content creation is fun. Creating videos is fun, as is photography. By encouraging people to see themselves as influencers rather than content creators we’re training them to think in a utilitarian and immoral manner. We’re training them to be spammers and scammers, rather than honest content creators. When I was a child we didn’t have edit suites and other technology easily at hand, so we had to improvise. I learned camera work through filming theatre productions and then making copies for those that wanted them. I didn’t have the goal of sharing to YouTube because the internet was still very young. I didn’t try to be an influencer. I enjoyed the media I played with, and eventually it became my career, just at the end of the age of television.

I think that focusing on Social media is a mistake. I think that rather than think of social media, we should create content that is shared via topic driven websites. As a case study I would look at []( and their use of video. The videos are hosted and shared via YoUTube but they’re also integrated within their website. Rather than making content for social media, they’re making content that illustrates their product in a number of videos that cover different aspects. I find this approach more interesting because there is no sensationalism, no “like and subscribe” and other junk. You watch a video to get information, and then you move on. That’s how it should be. Liking and subscribing should be a self-driven decision, not a result of nagging.

The iPhone Keynote – Apple Being Cheap

The iPhone Keynote – Apple Being Cheap

Recently Apple shot its entire keynote on their most expensive mobile phone. Whilst this sounds fantastic and empowering, it isn’t. In my eyes this is a marketing gimmick and a sad commentary on the state of video production today.

Video as Art

Video is an art. Video is a creative pursuit. If you use an iphone to film a keynote then you do show that the cameras are high quality. This is available at a cost of 1750 CHF for the 1 terabyte iphone 15 Pro Max. That’s a lot of money for a phone that you can’t drop, without breaking the front or back pieces of glass. That’s 1750 CHF for a camera where you can’t swap the battery if you run out of juice. That’s 1750 CHF for a camera that doesn’t have a proper lense on the front.

For clarity, for me a proper lens is one that has several bits of glass to provide an excellent image, as well as some zooming ability, to frame the shot as we want it to be, without having to walk backwards or forwards to get the image that we want.

Limited Shot Value Control

My individual frustration with iphone video is that we are limited by the zoom. We have one or two shot values, and the rest is digital. We’re not zooming into the shot we want. We’re cropping pixels, to give the illusion of a zoom. When we look at the result we see how awful the image quality is.

With a broadcast lens we can frame the shot as we want, without moving the camera. Imagine filming a conference where the camera has to be in the seat right in front of the speaker, rather than several meters away. With a broadcast camera you can cover an entire room with two or three cameras placed strategically.

As we see with the Apple Keynote they use 1700 CHF iPhone Pro Max cameras with rigs costing tens of thousands of dollars each. This isn’t grass roots production. This isn’t minimalism. This is absurd.

And there’s more. A few years ago I was asked “Would it be possible to film the High Commissioner walking from this room to that room?” and I said yes, but the aim was to do it for less money. My solution was to use an iphone on a DJI Osmo 3 streaming via Skype or a similar tool. It worked well. It was minimalist.


What Apple did was maximalist, as the name of the phone implies. The notion that we can film high quality video with mobile phones is not new and this has more to do with the switch from analogue to digital, than with the mobile phones made by a specific brand.

Analog Versus Digital

When people were filming with VHS, Hi8 and similar formats the signal was analag and upscaling it to broadcast quality was a challenge. Amateur video looked like amateur video. With the arrival of DV, DVCAM, DVCPro and other formats the ability to film high quality video with more affordable cameras became an ordinary part of life. If we’re shooting for broadcast then we need one image quality, and if we’re shooting for the web we need, or at least needed another image quality.

With MPEG-4, H.264, H.265 and future formats the image quality that smaller and smaller devices could get increased. Mobile phone video has been good enough for broadcast for years now. Even in-built laptop cameras have been good enough for broadcast for years.

The advantage of Digital video, as opposed to analogue video is that generation loss is almost inexistent. You can film, edit, edit again, and theoretically there is no loss from generation to generation.

Why Not Use the iPhone SE?

If Apple had shot the keynote with the iPhone SE, and pushed that forward, then it would be worthwhile, because they would have used the most affordable solution, rather than the most absurdly priced.

“We used our highest spec phone to film this” is nothing special. “We used the iPhone SE” would have been really interesting. Shooting with minimal rigs would have been more interesting too. Using film grade rigs with the most expensive iPhone is not noteworthy. It’s absurd.

More than absurd, it’s simple marketing. “If you buy our most expensive camera you can do the same”. That’s just stating the obvious.

Other Options

You can get the Sony A7 II for from 1200 CHF onwards and you can get the Blackmagic cinema camera for 1100 CHF. there are cheaper options that will provide cinematic quality at a lower price.

If you’re wondering why I look at the one terabyte phone, rather than the 256 and 512 options the reason is simple. Video files are large, and if you take a smaller capacity phone, once you fill it, you will be stuck waiting for data files to transfer from the internal memory to an external device. With professional cameras you might record to two cards simultaneously and they are can be hot swapped if you write from one whilst swapping the second. You don’t have that option with the iPhone Pro Max.

If the battery dies production stops, if the phone’s memory is full, production stops. If you want another shot value you need to move the entire camera rig to set up again. An iPhone is interesting, when it’s about minimalism, rather than maximums.

And Finally

I took a few seconds to scrub through the footage and the “shot on iphone” bits are just pieces to camera. Broadcast journalists have been doing this for year, but without a million dollar budget. I love the idea of using an iPhone to shoot video, when a bigger camera is too heavy, or not practical, but I don’t want people to forget the beauty of using broadcast quality cameras that give camera operators more control on what they’re shooting.

For all of the fuss that the event was shot on iphones I saw a lot of CG, animations and more. I think people made a big fuss about very little.

Fearless Netflix Documentary

Fearless Netflix Documentary

Fearless is a documentary produced by Netflix, exploring the life of bull riders that come from Brazil, to the US to compete in 26 competitions to see who is the best bull rider. This documentary is interesting because, for the most part it is in Portuguese with English subtitles.

Big in Brazil

In Brasil there is an event Barretoswhere 900,000 people, at the time the documentaries were made, go to watch bull riders compete against each other. Bull riding is a unique sport because a person tries to hold on to a bucking bull as it tries to throw the rider off. The rider gets point for style, but so does the bull. If the bull throws the rider off within eight seconds then the rider gets zero points. If the rider stays on then they can get up to 90 points.


The sport is very dangerous because it’s a small human being, on a big bull. They can get thrown and land on their head and break their neck, trampled, headbutted, and more. They can get their arms or legs caught. They risk injury in a multitude of ways. The paradox is that it lasts for eight seconds. All of that danger and risk, for an activity that lasts a few seconds.

If you look at the stats you can see how often bull riders are thrown off their bulls. It’s impressive to see that people fall from two or more meters onto the ground and often walk away. it’s interesting to watch the helpers get in front of the bull to block its path when the rider is bucked off.

It’s a strange sport because the humans are injured, rather than the bulls. The bulls are fine aftre the competition.

Glimpses of How They Train

An aspect of the documentaries that I like is that we see that it’s not just that they ride bulls, and that is it. They train. We see a five or so year old child try riding a calf and get thrown several times. “Do you want to ride again?” “yes”. We also see a slightly older girl practice riding on the barrel. “Stay on, don’t let go” as the barrel mounted on a spring goes forwards and backwards, and from side to side.

We also see how the adults train, how they ride the grown up equivalent of a rodeo bull, how they react, how they “dance” to keep their balance and to negate the movements made by the bull to throw them off.


Although the documentary series is called Fearless it explores the riders and how they deal with fear, injury and continue riding. They explore how the riders are confident, until they are injured, and how they recover from the injury and it’s physiological and psychological effects. They use the analogy of broken eggs, and how one or two riders get injured, but seem unphased.

One rider speaks about how he retired, and never once missed bull riding. Another questions whether to retire at the end of the season.

And Finally

I am familiar with Razeteurs, bull fighting and the Running of the Bulls. I have even witnessed the running of the bulls in a small village. Bull riding is one version I have never really thought about, because in Europe Bullfighting, bull running and Razeteurs are more common. I watched this documentary by fluke, and I like the subject matter.

It explores family, bull riding in the US and Brazil, about family, life as a migrant in the US, with little to no English, and more. It’s a good subject matter. It is well filmed, well edited, with good use of event commentator and bull rider interviews.

Nanook Of The North

Nanook Of The North

Two days ago I watched Nanook of the North, a documentary about an Inuit man and his family. This isn’t a documentary in the conventional sense. This documentary dates back to 1922 when the Documentary film was a brand new genre. This is one of the first documentaries, if not the first. I read about it for years, until, when I was watching Northern Exposure I did a search and came across the documentary on Filmin.

No Voice Over

The documentary has no voice over because it’s a silent film. You get intertitles instead that explain what you’re seeing. For many decades the documentary genre existed hand in hand with anthropolgy, the idea that the documentary could be used to document old ways of life, fascets of life and more. Nanook of the North was an early experiment

The Setback

At first Robert Flaherty filmed when he had time during an expedition. He would take the free time he had to document the lives of the Inuit. Eventually, the rushes burned due to a fire. He had shot 70,000 feet of film, almost twelve hours of 35 mm film. Hee was left with just the edit print. He showed it around before deciding that he didn’t like it, so he reshot Nanook of the North. (source: A New History of Documentary film, Jack C. Ellis and Betsy A. McLane, p12, 2005)

The content

Nanook of the north is a series of static shots that show an inuit family living their lives. We see them at a trading post, discovering the gramophone tasting it and more. We read about the children enjoying some sweets, to excess, and then taking castor oil, and smiling. We also see a seal hunt, a walrus hunt and the trapping of a fox, among other scenes. We see some traditional forms of doing these various activities.

At the start of the documentary there is an amusing moment where the Kayak comes to shore, and you see the entire family climb out of it, including a dog.

If not for Nannok of the North then such a scene would be read or heard about, but never seen.

The Interior Igloo scene

Nanook of the North did some controversy because it was seen as setup, as not really illustrating inuit life, especially the igloo scene. It’s interessting to see how clear ice was used as a window, with the adding of a block of snow as a reflector to get more light inside. I mention this because at least two or three times we see scenes that are supposed to happen within the iglood.

Due to how cramped an igloo is, and due to the lack of light, and film stock of the time, it would have been impossible to film within the igloo, so they faked it, outdoors. It illustrates the morning ritual. At one point we read, and see, the wife chewing a shoe, to defrost it in the morning, due to the cold night freezing it over. If the Igloo scene had not been faked outdoors, then the interior layout of an igloo would have been lost. By taking a small liberty we preserve history.


Although the film is 101 years old, at the time of the writing of this post it is still easy to watch today, and it is pleasant. It shows various moments of inuit life, without being boring. At moments it even feels more like a home video than a documentary. I found myself thinking that anyone with a family could watch it and enjoy it. It has survived the test of time.

The Man With the Movie Camera

For historical context, the Man with the Movie Camera would be shot seven years later, in 1929.

The Digital Age

One of the luxuries of the Digital Age is that many of these films have been digitised, and in so doing they have been made easier to access. When I was reading about these documentaries I had to imagine them. I had to rely on frames of the film and descriptions. Now with a quick Google or other search we can find and watch these documentaries. They may be old, and they may be part of history, but students of the genre don’t need to search through university libraries to find VHS copies of old films like I did. Within seconds you can find content that took me years, or even decades to find. Nanook of the North is a key film, so to understand documentary we must watch it.

YouTube and Ad Blockers

YouTube and Ad Blockers

One of the pleasures we would enjoy many years ago was to browse YouTube, and eventually find something worth watching. This was possible for one key reason. There were no ads being loaded that would block us for thirty seconds or more. Today I read that YouTube test threatens to block viewers if they continue using ad blockers.

YouTube video surfing and channel surfing are the same thing. You hop from channel to channel, or from video to video, until you find something to watch. You watch a few seconds at a time before deciding that you prefer some other form of content. The issue with ads is that they slow you down. If you watch 3 or four videos and see 30 seconds of ads before watching five seconds of video then you spend all of your browsing time watching adverts, rather than content.

Pay For Premium, Get No Ads

That’s fantastic in theory, and in practice this is a good alternative to ad blockers. The issue that I have with this solution is that we’re paying to have clickbait pushed on us, rathre than actually browse YouTube. We’re facing the same problem as with ads. We’re still struggling to find worthwhile content.

Ads Encourage People to Leave

When I grew tired of seeing ads I left YouTube for days or even weeks at a time. It’s only because I used ad blockers that I came back, and I still felt that I was being conned. The first con is that the content is UGC, User Generated Content, or as I prefer to call it, User Generated Crap. A lot of the content that YouTube pushes on us is crap. You would never watch it on television.

The second problem is that the ads themselves are crap. For all of the data that Google has on me, their ads are completely off the mark. They market products that I have no interest in using. The ads are also of low quality. In some cases the ad is a music video, that is being played before you watch the content you wanted to watch.

YouTube Ads Don’t Need to be Video Ads

YouTube makes the mistake of playing video ads when there is no need to. Other types of ads would be just as effective, and would not detract people from watching the videos that they’re watching. Plently of videos on YouTube are product reviews. Given that this is the case those videos, can, in and of themselves be seen as adverts. If we watch a video about barefoot shoes then that content should be seen as an advert. That’s what it does. Imagine if advertisers paid content creators, when their videos are played, after someone searches for a specific product. The idea that you need to play an ad, for ad revenue, is obsolete at this moment in time.

Content as Advert

To elaborate on the idea, if I watch three videos about types of shoe then the brand that is being covered in the video should contribute financially to that video. I’m watching a promotional video, about a product. I don’t need a pre-roll add before watching a video about a specific product, or a specific lines of product.

YouTube said that they want people to either get premium, or see ads, to pay for content creators to create content. I think they’re missing the purpose of an entire segment of YouTube videos. Tutorials, hiking videos, cycling videos and more are already marketing products, without ever needing to show ads. In some cases the ads are paid for by being mentioned directly in the videos themselves. I tend to skip those ads, though.

Why Do We Skip Ads

One of the questions that YouTube and others should ask is “why do people skip ads?” Why do I force quit iOS games to avoid seeing ads. Why do I avoid seeing ads on YouTube. The short answer is “because I have seen manscaped adverts hundreds of times, because I have seen the iOS game adverts once per game play. If the adverts were updated, and if we had more ads to watch, then we wouldn’t skip them. The reality of the situation is that we’re skipping ads that we have already seen. In some cases I will see the same ad when playing iOS games, ten times, in ten puzzles solved or failed.

US Influence

People in the US have an extremely high tolerance for being bombarded with ads. American football has adds every few minutes. European Football has ads after fourty five minutes of game time. You’re watching the sport, and ads are put at reasonable intervals in Europe. If people use ad blockers, reduce the frequency of ads, and increase the rotation of ads, so that they see five to ten adverts, rather than one advert ten times.

Pre-Roll Ads Before We Have Even Committed

One of the things I hate most about YouTube and other video sharing websites is that they play 30 seconds of video before you watch the content. Sometimes it starts to play without you deciding to watch the content in the first place. More often than not, if I get a pre-roll ad, before I have watched the video I will not watch the video at all. Sometimes you’re about to watch a 45 second, or a 1 minute 30 second video, and you have 30 seconds, to a minute of advert.

And Finally

The question that YouTube, Google, Daily Motion and others should be asking is not “How can we force people to watch ads or pay for premium access to our content?” but “Why are people so aggressive about blocking ads?”. The reason is simple. Ads are invasive, ads are too frequent, ads are always the same. Facebook should be working to make ads appealing, rather than threatening to block users.

Andrew Keen And The Scarcity of Choice

Andrew Keen And The Scarcity of Choice

I recently noticed that I had Andrew Keen’s The Cult of the Amateur book as an audiobook on Apple Books. I have had the book for at least a decade but have only got around to reading it recently. Over the last week I have listened to him speak about the closing of Tower Records and it encouraged me to write more about the scarcity of choice, that comes with online browsing and shopping.
When I lived in Weymouth I would go to WHSmith and look for new books, and then when I lived in London a few years later I would look for books at Waterstones. I spent hours in that book shop and often wanted to buy plenty of books but resisted temptation. The beauty of book shops is that you can look within a section and quickly see hundreds, or even thousands of books.

Scarcity of Choice With Books

Compare this to book browsing today. Book shops are rare, and supermarkets have a very limited choice. It does get worse. When you shop for books online you get plenty of the top selling books recommended, but it’s hard to find the least popular titles. It’s hard to find the long tail of books. it’s hard to browse through niche interests and topics because algorithms force us to see the top selling books, rather than browse.

Lending Libraries

That’s why the lending box in Eysins, Borex, Crassier, Founex, several in Nyon and other places are so good. They do have niche books, and they do have niche books. In the age of unlimited choice our actual options are limited to what algorithms think we want to read, rathre than what we would stumble upon in a physical book shop. Today we need to know what we’re looking for, rather than exploring, and finding it.

YouTube and Content Creators

He discussed YouTube and content creators that are creating content for free on YouTube, rather than being paid to generate it. What he didn’t explore so much, related to YouTube and amateurs trying to be professional about content production, a decade and a half later, is that broadcasters and independent companies are cutting costs and reducing their output thus reducing the number of jobs available for media professionals in mainstream media and more.

Coming of Age At the Right Time

I often wish that I had come to YouTube half a decade later than I did, maybe even later than that. When I wanted to break into the media the model was still focused on mainstream media. Now it has flipped around and the opportunity, and challenge, is to think of content that would attract people to view content. If YouTube had been what it is today, when I was 18 then I would have studied the same thing, but I would have pivoted towards independent content production much sooner. I have books on the topic, but independent at the time meant finding investors to pay for ideas. Today the barriers are inspiration and motivation.
Paradoxically, despite the barrier to entry being very low, to post content on YouTube or other video sharing platforms. there is a wall. The wall of tabloid sensationalism. I watched one content creator until I noticed the clickbait nature of the headlines. In another case I stopped watching several content creators for going on and on about their million plus subscribers. The barrier to entry is the same as the barrier to watching the content.

Getting Beyond The Noise

The patience to sort through the tabloid and sensationalist crap, before getting to content worth watching. On YouTube there is a scarcity of choice, because to please the algorithms you need to be a tabloid sensationalist to appear in search results and to be recommended. Failing this you are invisible. Failing this you need to drive traffic via blog posts or other means.

On Books And Video

I speak about the challenge of finding books despite having a backlog of hundreds of books. As I have often said, finding a book you want to read takes seconds, but actually reading it takes hours. Some books require thirty hours of reading. Usually they require seven hours or so. Books require an investment of time.
My real challenge is with video content. That’s where I struggle to find what I want to watch. In the past we would watch TV and see “What’s coming next” or we would read about new shows. Now we don’t, so we just have to browse until we find something. This isn’t a new problem. I had it when looking for films in video rental shops. In another lifetime finding something to watch was easy. Go to Discovery Channel and find documentaries to watch. Problem solved.

And Finally

As I read The Cult of the Amateur by Andrew Keen I thought that it should be updated for the 21st century. Instead of doing this he just wrote a few new books, one in 2018 and the second in 2020. I would purchase them but I might as well finish the book I am reading now, before getting yet another book. The Cult of the Amateur is an interesting look into what was perceived around 2007. The new books would reflect more modern visions.