For someone like me, raised and educated in the era of print media, electronic documents never seemed quite serious. Past tense because I’m getting beyond that. I can’t say I’ve got beyond it. Not quite yet. Vestiges of my old attitudes remain. I know this because of the way I reacted when I heard a young YouTuber (Katie Steckly) distinguishing between forms of online communication. Some, she said, were “timely” whilst others were more “evergreen”. According to Katie, Facebook entries and Tweets (if that’s what we’re still calling them) are “timely”. Blog posts, podcasts and YouTube videos are “evergreen”.
A good point
By “timely” I think she meant they respond to events of the moment, as much as that they are transitory. By “evergreen”, though, she clearly meant things that have more effort put into them and that can build up into an enduring archive. An archive that can be searched. That holds items that can be read and re-read, viewed and viewed again, perhaps repeatedly, over a longer time.
Once I got over my initial “But they’re all electronic ephemera!” reaction. After I’d put aside my “What happens when a hack or a power failure wipes the world’s servers?” sarcasm. Once I’d done all that, I started thinking she was making a good point.
It’s true that Facebook, LinkedIn, Reddit and the like are largely of the moment. True, posts on these and similar platforms are not time-bound in the same sense as, for example, posts on Snapchat, which builds on a timed erasure. The databases persist. (To help the database owners build profiles on us in order to target us with ads. To be scraped to feed the Large Language Models of the latest AI engines.) However, it’s not like most of us take much care or spend much time curating our social media records. If we revisit them at all, they’re more like diary notes that remind us of what we were doing, thinking, reacting to at that time, whenever it was.
To be sure I know people who use their Facebook pages in the same way I use my blog. They post longer-form articles on a regular or semi-regular basis. And of course some people (raises his hand) may put more effort than strictly necessary into their Instagram pictures. But both cases, I think, are more exceptions than the rule.
My impression is that eX-Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and the rest are not geared up to encourage users to stay on the platform by offering them older content. New stuff, yes. Lots of it. New trends to dive into, new things “you might like”, new people to follow. But nothing that’s months or even years old.
That’s something only YouTube does.
Oh, there may be other platforms, but YouTube is the one I’m familiar with and in my experience it’s unique.
(I wrote that and immediately thought of all the search engines that happily feed you long-outdated links if you don’t restrict them by time posted. You know how it goes: Ask for a good local restaurant for this evening’s meal. Be enthused by the excellent reviews. Then discover the reviews are old and the places closed their doors years ago.)
Why am I going on about this? Because I’ve been investigating and experimenting with YouTube for about six months now and I’m still casting about for reasons to launch myself into it.
This above is one strong reason to take the plunge.
Extending my reach
Browsing YouTube I find many examples of channels that have built up an archive of videos stretching back years. The YouTube algorithm serves me the newest creations by some of the authors I’m subscribed to. But it can – and does – point me to older material. Just now, of the first six suggestions on my YT Home page, four were published within the last 24 hours. However one is 7 months old and one is from 4 years ago.
One reason for starting a YouTube channel is the hope that it will put my creations in front of more eyes. Writers want to be read, but my blog doesn’t have a great reach. I’m trying to remedy that, trying to attract new readers and more frequent visitors. My Facebook Author page is one part of that campaign; YouTube could be another.
As I continue to hesitate, I’m spending time researching by watching YouTube videos for social media noobs. I’m also making peripheral material. Every YouTube video needs eye catching thumbnails. Here are some templates I’ve been playing around with.
The colour scheme is based on the classic Penguin orange, cream and black. Lettering is adjacent to Penguin’s front cover Helvetica typescript.
The portrait is a cartoonized version of my current profile image.
What do you think? Would this work as a thumbnail or is it too static or too dull? Answers in the comments please!