It’s Been A While; Plus Thoughts on Pluses

So… it’s been a while.

It’s been a while since I last posted an article. Part of that has been due to a month of incredible busyness where even the planned “down time” became frantic research time for car insurance, holiday planning, present purchasing etc. The rest has been Pokémon Go!, which has eaten free time like nothing else in recent history.

It’s been a while since I reviewed a movie. Sort of. The reality is, I’ve actually managed to keep on top of those over the last week or so, but I have a couple annoyingly outstanding from a time BPg (Before Pokémon Go!) and I’m not 100% happy with the current state of some of the others. July’s MiM is coming, with some interesting new ‘features’, but it may be a week or so late.

It’s been a while since I spent any time working on this website. Again, in a time BPg (historians will catch on, I’m sure of it) I was getting close to making some pretty big, radical changes to the backend here. They hit a slight snag which morphed into a major roadblock simply because I still haven’t really sat down to mull it over. Still, plans are slowly creeping forward!

It’s been a while since I did any photo editing. Despite weekend after weekend of major events in the past month, which have produced hundreds of photos I’m genuinely proud of, I haven’t posted to Flickr in coughmumblemumble… I’m not proud of that, but again, plans may finally be moving forward.

It’s been a while since I saw something truly exemplary online. There have been some great videos and some new passions, but nothing that’s made me sit up and go: yes! I agree! Let’s think about/act on that right now! Luckily, this waiting period has actually ended thanks to the ever inspiring Vlogbrothers, John and Hank Green. I don’t want to go too deep into my thoughts right now because, well, this post has ballooned into something else which I quite like, but lets just say they’ve struck a nerve.

In a handful of recent Youtube videos, they both touched upon a worrying trend online, specifically that angry voices, ranting and outrage are becoming increasingly prevalent. In some ways, that’s totally okay, but the ubiquity and degree of rage is getting out of control. Between the two videos they discussed why anger leads to poor conversations, why it builds so much traction online, why that may provoke certain elements to create and foster this emotion above others and, most importantly, presented one method for potentially combating this trend. In terms of the “whys”, rather than regurgitate their words I’d urge you to just watch the videos. If the virality of anger is something that interests you, I’d also thoroughly recommend this analysis by CGPGrey.

What really made me sit up and take note, though, was their suggestion to combat saltiness and flame wars on Youtube: “+” comments. Because Youtube ranks comments based on the number of Likes and Comments they get, but comments are weighted higher than likes, angry/flamebait comments tend to rise to the top, causing a circle jerk of ever increasing rage. Hank Green, instead, suggested that people should leave a comment with a simple “+” symbol on any comments they felt worthy of praise, discussion or both. In doing so, they’ve hacked their own Youtube comments section into one where bile and trolling isn’t rewarded and genuine discussion/ideas are. It’s by no means perfect, but I thoroughly agree with both brothers when they say that it is as much the community’s job to police themselves and maintain order as it is the platform’s.

Personally, I’m a big fan of “+” comments. It may be that Youtube eventually begins to remove them or negate their importance, but in the meantime they seem to be a power for good. In particular, I feel they may be much more effective than reporting negative/trolling/abusive comments. I’m a firm believer that a carrot will be more likely to provoke change than a stick (plus, over reliance on the stick reduces it’s power/thorniness).

Monthly Media: Coming Soon

Last month I wrote up a post detailing the films I’d seen in March. When I initially started blogging again last year I had hoped that mini-reviews and similar content would become a mainstay, something I could easily throw together when I was doing the 100×100 challenge, setting a precedent to continue once that was over. Simply put, I wanted to (and still hope to) keep a record of the books, graphic novels, films, music and TV shows that I have watched/read/consumed alongside a (hopefully brief) synopsis of my related thoughts. Too often I’ve had conversations where I knew I’d read or watched a particular piece of media, but couldn’t really remember anything more than a vague outline of the story and a simplistic gut reaction: liked, hated, frustrated me etc.

Obviously, this record has not been a massive success. There are simply dozens of examples of all of the above that haven’t ended up with even one line reviews in the interim (indeed, I couldn’t find a single album/music review, despite swearing I’d written a piece on TwentyOne Pilots), so last month I trialled something a little different. Rather than write an individual review for each film I watched, I just added onto a rolling draft post and published at the end of the month (or slightly after, I might have forgotten for a bit…). As a result, I actually wrote reviews. They were quick, often initial impressions that I fleshed out when I came to actually hit publish, allowing me to jot down the key ideas ASAP; they also made me feel a lot better about not writing very much, just the core details I wanted to remember, as the post grew to a decent length through volume anyway.

As a result I’m going to trial a few more months where I expand the content being recorded. Far from just films, a monthly media mashup (title pending) will hopefully mean that there’s always a handful of reviews and that no one area gets forgotten or ignored. It also means that, in months like this one, when I have an influx of one type of media (in this case, deciding to buy a bunch of graphic novels sat on my watch list for a few months) I can fire them all in as quickly as I consume them. So that’s the plan; let’s see how long it sticks for!