Sunday, July 26, 2015

TWIC: Youtube tips for teachers, dealing with criticism, and the New Media Cargo Cult

Turns out Youtube has some less-known features that would be handy for teachers.  If you're making a video, you're creating, so the article deserves mention here.
Teachers would particularly find instructions on blurring faces in videos useful.  Privacy is often an issue when recording video, or stills, in class
There are also tips on how to add captions or add links to the video in a format to make a follow-your-own-adventure style games.
At i09, Charle Jane Anders discusses how to deal with harsh criticism.  My favorite part was the Gaiman quote:
There’s a quote from Neil Gaiman which is super helpful: “Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.”
Anders also looks are reviewer you ask for criticism - who are expected to be helpful -and impersonal critics lurking in Goodreads and etc, who have no duty to be helpful.  His main point on the latter is NEVER RESPOND TO THE REVIEWS.  Don't argue with them.  I've noticed that readers who do are further mocked and think I've documented some examples on this blog. [searches]: Yes, I have.
David Moldawer, at Boingboing, argues against following link-bait protocols.  He is upset with algorithms and the pseudoscience that goes into Search Engine Optimization  (I hope that's what SEO stands for).
Except something's changed. Whether you blame Facebook, Buzzfeed, HuffPo, or "algorithms," the new media landscape has grown a big fat mainstream of its own. Not at one particular site, but in the sense of a particular mechanic of creative expression: tailored for clicks, pasteurized, grabby. The long tail of odd and authentic content is bigger than ever, but if you find your content the way most people do, through the algorithmically warped suggestions in your social media feeds, the stuff you stumble onto feels less like writing and more like wordage, a sort of tips-and-tragedies lorem ipsum.
...[ellipses of a few paragraphs here]...
Even the social media experts have begun to agree that no one person really understands the mechanics of the process, and it's becoming next to impossible for individuals (as opposed to content farms employing teams of data analysts) to keep up with algorithmic "best practices" to amass clicks, likes, faves, hearts, stars, and clovers.
We don't understand why some things catch on and others don't, so we imitate the tone and cadence of the content farms and we pray for rain to come. New media is a cargo cult.
Every day, excellent and unusual writing continues to fall through the cracks as we're fed one "weird trick" after another. We reassure each other by saying the Web generally helps the cream rise to the top, eventually, if you just, um, follow these top 5 tips for writing a great headline that my friend just shared on LinkedIn.
Meanwhile, scratch the surface of a "viral phenomenon" that "came out of nowhere" and you'll find four ad agencies standing on the back of a giant pile of corporate cash standing on the back of a giant turtle. (It's turtles all the way down.)
...['nother big ellipses]...
I have faith, though, that if we develop our craft as online writers based on our own tastes and on the feedback of people we know and trust, with the understanding that finding and keeping our audience is just as much a part of the creative work as the writing itself, we'll take this new form in wonderful and unexpected directions. Online content is a separate and worthy discipline and a nascent art form in and of itself. Let's give ourselves permission to experiment, make mistakes, and develop new approaches to the craft. It's too early to imitate as much as we've begun to, because there are still no sure things.
When I was one of only a few English bloggers in Gangwon Province, South Korea, my blog had novelty value.  International travelers would ask questions and Gangwon Tourism did as well,  I still didn't have many visits per day or week or whatever, but I did have novelty and useful information hard to find elsewhere.

This current blog, and my two others (Yes, I understand.  Point me to the nearest Bloggers Anonymous) are more journals or records of my life and things I want to study.  I would love it if people learned how to be creative here or visited my creationism/evolution blog to argue science with me or visited surprisesaplenty to see what one of many Busan bloggers has to say.  But mostly, these days, my content is for me.  I would be thrilled if people received valuable advice here but it doesn't drive me.

One thing about Moldawer's article that jumped out at me was "Even the social media experts have begun to agree that no one person really understands the mechanics of the process,"  This reminded me of the Darius Kazemi video comparing creative success to winning a lottery.  I discussed that a little here.

Incidentally, I feel a strange connection to Moldawer.  I first followed him on the Kickass Mystic Ninjas podcast which ran from 2005 to 2010.  He has a blog at

Added two months later (Sept 23): Moldawer again looks at content vs marketing strategies to attract views money. An excerpt:

From the site, I couldn't blame you for assuming that getting paid for his work is the last thing on Butterick's mind.
If it actually does occur to you to give Butterick money for Practical Typography, you can click on the second subhead beneath the fifth menu item, "how to pay for this book," and read a somewhat cranky essay that starts off by complaining about how almost no one pays, followed by a request to purchase his fonts or, failing that, to just send money. He doesn't even offer a bonus download for shelling out. Just "send cash, you typographically inadequate crash dummy."
After the first year, Butterick wrote a recap on this approach:
I es­ti­mate that about one in 650 read­ers has sup­ported the book with a payment or pur­chase. The other 649 have not. Maybe they will later. Maybe they don’t know they can or should. Or maybe they just think infor­ma­tion on the In­ter­net should be free. In­de­pen­dent of my in­ter­ests as an au­thor, I continue to find this view cor­ro­sive and dan­ger­ous. Last year I gave a talk suggesting that we’d traded good gov­ern­ment for banner ads. But the rip­ple ef­fects are wider still.
A guy whose entire message is that typography is a powerful tool for directing a reader's attention can’t seem to get any of his visitors to click a link.

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