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Did The Genius Bar copy me on this one?

I was listening to The Genius Bar podcast this morning, and it was almost carrying on from where I left off with yesterdays blog…interesting…

The Genius Bar and Tech YouTube
image courtesy of author

I’m only kidding really

Genius Bar is a great listen. It is hosted by Jon Prosser & Sam Kohl, who I actually had on my Minus Sixteen podcast recently. I listen to it every week, and, rarely, does it disappoint.

This week, the guys, joined by Luke Miani, piqued my interest as the subject of their podcast, was pretty much the same topic as I covered yesterday. Clearly, or at least I assume that they have not checked out my blog, but it was remarkable that we should have picked up on the same topic.

If you recall, I mentioned that those of us in the tech space on YouTube seem to be slowly drawing a noose around our own necks. By continually coming down hard on the latest Apple releases, every time a product is launched, we are painting a very negative image of the tech on offer. But, is it the creator’s fault, or is it the fault of the viewers and subscribers?

Typical – I came to the party late

I didn’t start making tech YouTube videos until last September, and it’s been tough. In a large part, that was down to me learning my craft, but also, it would seem, I came onboard at precisely the wrong time.

Listening not only to the guys on The Genius Bar, but other guests on my podcast, it seems YouTube went through something of a ‘false’ swell during lockdown. Not surprising when you work it through, as everyone was at home, desperate for something or anything to watch.

Since then, almost universally, creators in the tech space have been treading water. Certainly, the three creators on this week’s Genius Bar admitted to it. And, if they are treading water, and don’t forget Rene Richie’s video this week too, then what hope is there for the rest of the space? Is tech-Tube over? My guess is probably not, but, what will the future be, and, who will lead the change?

Chicken or the egg

By reading this, there is a good chance that you are a tech lover. Taking that further, there could well be a chance that you also watch tech YouTube videos. And, one step further still, you are quite likely subscribed to many of the same channels that I am.

As viewers, or consumers, we only have so much time, or attention free to give. The creator’s responsibility is to get you to watch their video ahead of mine or anyone else’s. There is a shopwindow available to creators to get you to click, and in turn earn them their income, and that is the video’s thumbnail & title. Now, if we are all chasing the same viewers, what metric are creators going to use to get your click?

Shock!

Whose fault is it?

Clickbait is a real thing, and it is generally frowned upon. But right now, titles and thumbnails are getting dangerously close to it all the time. The creators will doubtless put it this way – if you clicked on that title, then you will click on the next similar one. You’ve seen the titles or thumbnails I’m meaning – the ones that include guaranteed clicks – ‘confirmed’, ’it’s over’, ‘it’s bad’….and so on.

But, the other side of that coin is the viewers will claim, ‘we would’ve watched the video anyway, there was no need for the big claims’. Who knows what the truth may be. We are where we are, but the creators are sure feeling the need to create a strong, emotive reaction.

In the Genius Bar podcast, Prosser claims that you are not being honest, if you are not being negative, in the eyes of the tech community, at least. If that is the case, what a sad, jaundiced and worrying place we find ourselves in.

The way out

To lower our expectations.

As much as there can’t be stunning new tech every day of the week, we are still living in a great period, as I mentioned yesterday. That is certainly true in the Apple space, at least.

We have just been given the all-new M2 MacBook Air. It’s fantastic, and ticks all the boxes you could have wished for. Yet already, there is an element of tech-Tube that is deriding it and pulling it apart. To what end? Other than a vain attempt for clicks & views, what good can that do the community? Am I being way too innocent to suggest, that may be a video shouting how good this Mac is, yes with limitations, is overdue? What is so wrong with admitting it is good, and shouting about that instead?

Apple has created a pretty affordable, portable, easy to use Mac that will actually have far more power than most people will ever need. It will work well for the mass buyers of this product – the folks for who it is aimed at. Am I missing something?

A reality check is, that most of the folks that will be buying this Mac will never see these videos. They won’t sway their purchase decisions in the slightest. That being the case, it means these videos are actually pretty self-indulgent, and, possibly, self-fulfilling too. The videos are being clicked on, viewed and watched only by the converted – tech lovers. And if tech creators are only creating videos for the select few, then why use clickbait? Because, those viewers who are watching are anodised to the YouTube ways – unless they can be shocked in to watching, then the video won’t be watched.

The odd paradigm is, that those who will watch the videos won’t buy the M2 MacBook Air, and perversely, those who don’t will!

The way out?

It seems we are at a place in tech-Tube that creators are now making titles and thumbnails of which they are not proud, but will guarantee views. Unless they continue on that route, their videos and livelihoods will suffer. There clearly needs to be a reset. A reset whereby, everyone backs off and gets back to making honest, quality content. Let’s pause the shock for a bit folks…

However, someone has to have the balls to be first – bluntly put! If just one person makes the change, then they alone will sink and suffer.

I’m sure you’ve heard about the YouTube algorithm, but no one, absolutely no one, actually knows what it is and how it is currently working. What if YouTube themselves are ahead of the curve?

What if they have seen the self-harm that tech creators are putting on themselves, are saying ‘enough is enough!’ Is it too preposterous to suggest that YouTube want tech to get back to what it once was?

I mentioned yesterday, that a perspective needs to be drawn and appreciated. If a new Apple product is good, then let’s just admit it? What point is there, in the instance of the latest MacBook Air, letting us know it struggles with 8K video editing? It’s negative and destructive, and only created to get a click and come up with something, hell, anything to get their views. It’s a notebook! Sadly, it’s a road to nowhere.

Tech YouTube can be great. It can offer great tech content. Yet, if the three, successful creators on this week’s Genius Bar, Rene Richie et al can see the slump, and the writing on the wall, then is it not time we all just take five? We need to take a hold of the reigns, and click on good, creative, honest content once again. Let’s stop rewarding clickbait for cheap gratification.

We all fell in love with tech-Tube before clickbait was a thing. Let’s return to those, simpler, happier, more honest days…before it’s too late.

And yes, I’ll admit, the title of this blog was intentionally clickbait…normal service will be resumed tomorrow – don’t hate!

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