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.

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.

Hiking With Cats

Hiking With Cats

Usually when we hear of people hiking with cats we think of them walking with the cat, or cats, on a leash. In a Pass Moi Les Jumelles (PAJU for short), we follow two guys who go for a walk with four cats. The report is funny because the cats, or some might even say kittens, are allowed to roam and explore with the human companions. They can leap across streams over and over. Occasionally they, the cats, fall into the water.

It is refreshing and fun to see a report like this because it shows that cats can roam with humans, without harnesses and other equipment. They automatically follow the humans. 

Of course there is a flaw with walking with cats. They’re nocturnal, and sleep a lot. This means that you have to walk at a different rate than you would usually walk. At one point the two principle people decide to have a siesta in the middle of the day, because the cats are lazy and tired after playing so much the previous day. 

We see them walking with their cats on the back of their bags, in order to rest and recover. 

As I watched this short documentary I was led to believe that the person who filmed this loves cats. You can tell they love cats because they know what to expect, they know what cats will get up to and capture it. It’s a fun and pleasant documentary, especially if you understand french. The visuals are nice too. 

I enjoy the idea of hiking with cats, without leashes, of expecting them to stay around, rather than stray too far. I like the idea of them galivanting, exploring and playing on a linear walk. It is amusing to think of them sheltering in sleeping bags to keep warm. 

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YouTube and the Million Follower type

I used to really like YouTube. It was a place where normal people could share videos of their normal lives, for normal people to enjoy, and to discover organically. Today YouTube is a way of forcing people to watch adverts before watching content that has been seen half a million to a million times by people with a million subscribers who keep saying “i have a million subscribers” and showing off. This makes most YouTube content unpleasant.

Don’t boast about your audience, or about your community. Give me good quality video content that I want to keep watching. Give me content, not boasting about how you got awards, got a big audience etc. I am not on YouTube to flatter your ego. I am on YouTube to watch content that is interesting as I eat dinner. If you don’t fill this niche then I can slide towards another content creator, or video network.

Content viewing, at this point in the pandemic has become hard. If the content is about friends and family then this is a long distant memory, in the middle of the pandemic, with no hope of an end.

Documentaries would be fun, if they weren’t edited by a hyperactive bumblebee. If I watch a documentary, speak, give me information, and don’t sensationalise it. If you do I will tune out within minutes, or even seconds in some cases.

I would watch films but either modern story writing makes them so dull that I lose interest within a few minutes, or they make me long for pre-pandemic, or post pandemic life.

Content is not made for single people living in solitude during a pandemic but it should. Good documentaries, good films, good series.

I enjoyed watching people play computer games for a while, but then eventually I grew tired of the content. I felt that at least one or two people were playing towards a stereotype, rather than being genuine, Eventually I stopped watching.

I often listen to audible books as I cook. Recently I thought about listening to audiobooks as I ate, or even in the evening, rather than watch video content. The beauty of audio books is that they’re 3-20hours long. Find a good book and you will be entertained for a week to 20 days.

Recently I have been listening to Louis L’amour books and I find them fun. They’re not the genre I used to listen to. I am in the right frame of mind. I like these books because they’re light, easy reading. They’re not like Gulag, or other books. It’s a trip back in time to frontier America, when bison were plentiful, land was being taken away by the Whites, and more.

As I read Louis L’Amour I know that some topics may anger or frustrate people who feel that the writing is from another age, and it is. Listening to such books is a cultural trip to see what life was hypothetically like, and to explore a different genre. I usually read factual books.

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Perm 36 YouTube Video Visit

Last night I watched a video about a visit to Perm36 but it covered just the trip. The video below is far more complete and informative. I am currently reading Gulag by Anne Applebaum, rather than The Gulag Archipelago, like she mentions. I started reading it decades ago but never finished it. I read A day in the Life of Ivan Denisovitch in a single day.

Reading Gulag, The Gulag Archipelago and other books helps give some context to what Soviet Russia was like. As I read Gulag by Applebaum I get the feeling that Soviet Russia was about enslaving people to make profit for some whilst everyone else suffers. From this perspective what the Soviet Union would morph into, at the end of the Soviet age would make more sense.

I recommend watching this video. It is informative.

The best edit suite is the one you have with you.
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The best edit suite is the one you have with you.

You remember the old saying. The best camera is the one that you have with you. Today the same can be said about “edit suites” that you carry in your trousers or jacket pocket. I’m speaking of edit suites that work with your iphone or ipad. Lumafusion is one such example. 

It differs from other mobile editing solutions in a number of key ways. The first is that it allows you to edit on a timeline with three video sources at once This means that you have more control. It allows you to split audio which allows you to overlap sound from one clip to another and provide a better finish. 

clips in the top left, playout monitor in the top right and timeline in the bottom left and options in the bottom right.

This includes the option to add graphics, idents and other visual content. It allows you to provide a finished product, ready for broadcast or distribution. 

Another nice feature is that you can record your voice over directly to the timeline once the edit is finished. This means that vloggers and people who like to record commentary rather than natural sound, can capture natural sound, and add commentary later. 

I played with this editing solution with footage shot on an iphone SE at a music festival as well as other footage shot on an iPhone 8 Plus. The edit suite was my iphone 8 plus while lying on a couch. 

I like this editing solution because it allows for a high quality turnaround of mobile phone footage for a number of platforms without carrying a laptop. This is ideal for hiking, climbing and other types of video content. It costs 20 CHF so once you’ve spent several hundred on an iphone it’s cheap. ;-). It allows export in h264 as well as h265. 


I tried importing greenscreen footage via Google drive from a PMW-200 that had been converted to mp4 but the video codec was not recognised. I have yet to try greenscreen quality. 

Joseph Nye at the Graduate Institute
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Joseph Nye at the Graduate Institute

Joseph Nye was at the Graduate institute to address the question Are we Seeing the End of the American Liberal Order? He did not want to give a yes or no answer but rather to introduce ideas with which to frame and understand the context of the question looking back in history but also looking at contemporary issues. In so doing he spoke about why the aftermaths of the First World War led to war and why the Aftermath and attitudes after the Second World War led to 75 years of peace. He spoke about Hard Power and Soft Power. He spoke about how with Soft power we find attitudes that everyone wants to adopt and participate in.

What I like about lectures by such individuals is that they really know their topic in depth and they understand it. They are well read and they have taken an active role in the topics they discuss. As a result when they come up to the podium their hands are empty. He did eventually pull out a single sheet of paper and occasionally looked at it. He talked with authority, and occasionally humour.

Here are a number of videos

Verhofstadt, Merkel, Macron and others believe in Soft Power, they believe that through mutually advantageous projects we can all benefit. Just yesterday roaming fees were terminated for European countries. This means that we can now travel and communicate in any other European country. Soft power is the opening of borders for trade, education and more. It is about trust and similar goals. It is about collaboration.

As a result of yesterday’s talk I want to read his books. I want to learn more about the topics he discusses and delve deeper into the context. We must neutralise the populist discourse by understanding what led to so many years of peace. It is important not to regress.

Electro-dance yodelling and other Valais videos
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Electro-dance yodelling and other Valais videos

This yodelling video is currently the number one trending video on youtube. I am unclear on whether it is for Switzerland or a bigger region. A small tractor is driving up a Swiss Alpine road with a group of yodelers sitting in a trailer. A car with Ma Cherie playing on the radio overtakes and the yodelers start to yodel the song. This video is on the Canton de Valais Youtube account.

Hydroelectric Power

Sixty percent of the of hydroelectric power produced in Switzerland comes from Valais with its 26 dams of which La Grande Dixence is one. They have French, English and German versions of this video.

From one side of the lake to the next by Pedalo

To keep the theme of renewable energy we have another project, to cross the lake in a solar powered Pedalo. It’s in French. I thought it was a project with an environmental goal at first.

Flying over Valais

Continuing with the theme of environmentally friendly activities Parapente is another. It’s a nice way to see such a pleasant landscape, especially if you find ascending air currents that prolong the flight.

Skydiving without the parachute

A few weeks ago after the Via Ferrata de la Farinetta near Saillon, I posted an image or two to Instagram and RealFly Sion liked the image. They’re the first indoor Sky diving simulator in Switzerland. It provides people with the opportunity to try skydiving without freefalling thousands of metres. This is an experience I would eventually like to try. I’m used to having the sensation of flying in a similar position underwater so trying it in a strong current of air would be fun.


A Plastic Ocean – Recycle more
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A Plastic Ocean – Recycle more

A Plastic Ocean is an excellent documentary detailing the problems and threats caused by plastics entering water systems and eventually reaching the seas and oceans. This documentary starts with a team trying to film whales. When they finally do find the whales off the coast of Sri Lanka they notice that there is a film of oil and plastic build up miles from the shore. They say that this bit of ocean should be clean as the beaches had been unused for years. They suspect that the plastic had been freed after heavy rains flushed them out to sea.

I went to the Graduate institute to watch this film last night and the crowd was already well informed. When one speaker asked, “Did you know that the Plastic Ocean problem was this serious” at least half of the room, if not more raised their hand. When people were asked about the zero waste movement at least a third of people raised their hand. The auditorium was filled to capacity.

Plastic and snorkeling

When I was snorkeling in Spain a few  weeks ago I was looking for fish and I saw a few small fish. In the past I had been scuba diving in these waters and surfaced to be surrounded by jellyfish. If you’re stung by a jelly fish you don’t need to use urine. Olive oil and seawater will calm the inflamation. I thought that I saw a jellyfish but as I swam closer I saw that it was a transparent plastic bag floating near the surface. I grabbed the bag and I placed it in my semi-drysuit sleeve and eventually swam back to come out of the water. As I walked back from the activity I picked up a second plastic bag and threw them away. If these bags were left in the Mediterranean then sea turtles and other animals might eat them.

Environmental impact

When plastics reach the ocean seventy percent sinks to the bottom of the sea and can remain there for centuries. What does not sink is degraded by the sun but it is broken up, rather than broken down. What this means is that you go from plastic sheets to plastic pellets and these plastic pellets outnumber krill and plankton by a ratio of two to one. This means that sea birds, fish and other animals higher up the food chain ingest plastic and it accumulates. Seabirds and whales ingest so much plastic that it fills their stomachs and they eventually die of starvation.

Everyday Recycling

It is at this moment that I am so happy to live in a canton where you can recycle PET in one container and all other plastics in another. This means that almost all of the plastic I use on a daily basis is recycled. It can be re-used for bags, car doors and more permanent uses.


Recycling is a simple and intuitive habit to have. My generation learned to recycle as children and we have kept up this habit for decades. It is so normal that we feel uneasy at festivals and events where we don’t have bins for PET, Aluminium and other products. In some cases I keep aluminium or PET bottles on me until I find a place where I can recycle them. I enjoy that at Swiss train stations you can now recycle paper, PET, Aluminium and other rubbish.

The advantage of recycling loops is that we use the primary material more than once. It means that we don’t need to waste energy and money on extracting oil and other primary materials. We simply recycle the materials. The concept of closed circuits was discussed.

An Environmentally Friendly Hike

If this post has inspired you to do more for the environment there is a wehike event organised by the Summit Foundation .

This is a hike inaugurating the partnership between WeHike and Summit Foundation, a Swiss ecological non-profit. The Foundation’s mission is to reduce the environmental impact of human activities -leisure activities in particular- in high-traffic locations like ski areas, by raising awareness and proposing concrete solutions. To this end, WeHike supports the Summit Foundation’s objectives by promoting and organising environmentally-aware hikes and waste collection & recycling operations in high mountains.

This is a two day hike near Les Diablerets.

A plastic Ocean is available to watch on Netflix and from other sources. It is worth watching as it will affect how you use plastic in future.

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K2 With a Drone

K2 with a Drone is a documentary following Petr Jan Juracka, a scientific photographer’s trip to K2 with Klara Kolouchova with two drones. He performed extensive testing before setting off on the trip. He flew the drone in a hyperbaric chamber to see how it would react. He flew it in freezing conditions to check that the batteries would cope and then he flew in other places.

He had already flown his drone in a multitude of countries and Pakistan was the latest challenge. We see the journey to base camp. We see images of the snow and ice, of rivers, of challenging roads and more. The documentary mixes fixed camera footage and drone footage in a pleasant to watch manner.

Thanks to God, to a lot of work of professional kindergarten teachers, great support of my parents and a lot of eye-training I see. And I see perfectly! Since the times my vision went good I enjoy every detail, every color and I admire any type of light. – Petr Jan Jura?ka

For some of the cold weather testing:

As I watched this documentary one question I wanted to have answered is how he powers his drone and other devices. Apparently he has a set of solar panels that he can deploy outside his tent. When acclimating at base camp solar panels would be ideal. There is no need to carry a heavy generator and fuel. You just bring a few weatherproof panels, deploy them on the side of the tent and wait for various batteries to charge. In that shot we see that the weather is overcast.

Overall this is an interesting documentary that I would expect to see at events  such as the Alpine Film Festival in Les Diablerets or the Montagne en Scène events. Combined with more footage of the climb of K2 it could provide for a more complete documentary.