I want my MTV
July 11, 2017 10:21 PM   Subscribe

 
All this time I thought I was some sort of Luddite because I abhor video. Give me the written word, any day. Apparently, this doesn't make me as stodgy as I had thought.

This whole video thing could be solved by taking away the email accounts of anyone who suggests the switch. Make them communicate via video for everything. If they lasted 24 hours, I would be shocked.
posted by roquetuen at 10:49 PM on July 11, 2017 [69 favorites]


The article sounds like MTV's real problem is that it's not BuzzFeed and it's desperately trying to be BuzzFeed.

I am still frankly grumpy about the switch away from broadsheet newspaper (with its backward-6 hierarchy and editorial ranking of stories but where I retain the power to instantly decide how much time and attention each story gets, unlike radio or video, plus people talking is so much slower than me reading) to an RSS reader because while I retain control over the length of my attention to each story, I have to spend so fucking much time scanning headlines to decide what to read because a reverse timeline is not an editorial hierarchy, it's just a stupid stream.

There is no fuckin' way I'm getting my news from video. I can barely stand to get my news from the radio and then only when I'm in the car and can't be reading. I'm not going to sit with my eyes AND ears captive to someone else's idea of how long a story should take.

Also by far the most irritating internet news video trend (after autoplay) is those 90-second to 3-minute videos that PAN ACROSS STILL PICTURES with some bouncy music in the background while popping phrases up on the screen to explain some damn thing that could have been done with five pictures and a paragraph of text and FUCK YOU NEWS WORD VIDEO GUY.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 11:02 PM on July 11, 2017 [187 favorites]


I'm admittedly an old man by web standards, but, MTV News is still a thing? I thought MTV news was Kurt Loder smugly talking down to teens about music he himself didn't understand.

If anyone needs me, I'll be in the family room listening to cassettes.
posted by BigHeartedGuy at 11:13 PM on July 11, 2017 [49 favorites]


video in this context is horrendous. not only is it annoying (playing automatically with volume when you're listening to something else, making the site laggy), it ironically also seems old-fashioned and cheap compared to plain text, kind of like the first generation of video games that used live action video in the 90s.

snappy and succinct writing set in a mobile friendly font on a well crafted website can be read and digested much more quickly than some bloated video. plus, you can read it silently, which is nice in certain locations like restaurants, bars, and work.
posted by wibari at 11:27 PM on July 11, 2017 [11 favorites]


reminder: certain pubs say "video is the future, millennials want it," because they're trying to *will* it to happen. Advertisers prefer it.

— Eric Harvey (@ericdharvey) June 28, 2017


in a nutshell.
posted by philip-random at 11:30 PM on July 11, 2017 [54 favorites]


If people wanted video, they'd go to Youtube rather than having you jam autoplaying monstrosities in their face.
posted by MartinWisse at 11:39 PM on July 11, 2017 [25 favorites]


ye gods, I loathe the way so many sites use video. Even events that almost demand video, like a sports highlight, become unwatchable with the way ESPN and other sports sites load commercials before the highlight. A ten second clip is dumped behind a thirty second ad, and if you want to watch another clip, you get another thirty second ad for 15 seconds of action. Great idea that. It keeps me away from using the sites at all. Easier to go without than put up with a terrible user experience. (It also doesn't help matters that those sites also tend to be the ones that load the most crap banner ads, cookies and other browser seizing shit too.)
posted by gusottertrout at 11:44 PM on July 11, 2017 [16 favorites]


I say, pitchforks up for a permaban on SLYT FPP, who's with me?

anyone?

hellooo?

I'll, uh, I'll just be over here in the corner with my giant pile of books

posted by mwhybark at 11:46 PM on July 11, 2017 [12 favorites]


There’s a video at the top of this article.
I know. I’m sorry. It’s probably set to autoplay too, which means it’ll scream at you whether you want it to or not. (The answer, I’m assuming, is “not.”)


I've been screaming at my monitor when a news site plays unwanted video for, what, five years now? Is it just now becoming enough of a "trend" to be worthy of comment?

This video has the added sin of being attacked to Javascript that prevents only part of it being in the window at once, causing the whole page to instantly snap down a full page when I scroll, making it hard for me to pick up reading from before the scroll. Thanks a HEAP Newsweek.
posted by JHarris at 11:47 PM on July 11, 2017 [2 favorites]


On the other hand, I do not mind having ads as a part of longer streaming content that I'm getting for free. If Crunchy Roll or Hulu breaks up a show with some occasional ads to pay for the content, that's great as long as the balance is reasonable enough to keep the content I want as the primary focus. So for long form videos, a reasonable amount of ads are fine, but making videos just to provide space for ads is a good way to keep me from using your site at all, even more so because of what JHarris mentioned about videos breaking the page loading.
posted by gusottertrout at 11:52 PM on July 11, 2017 [3 favorites]


Christ, Article a Video from the Onion nailed how I feel about this sort of thing in pretty much exactly the words I'd use.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 11:59 PM on July 11, 2017 [52 favorites]


BigHeartedGuy: I'm admittedly an old man by web standards, but, MTV News is still a thing? I thought MTV news was Kurt Loder smugly talking down to teens about music he himself didn't understand.

Yeah, they hired some really interesting writers last year - the article above links some good examples. I really loved Michaelangelo Matos on Prince, and Kaleb Horton did a load of interesting writing about music, America, politics, class, and landscape, to name two. And the excellent Jessica Hopper as the editorial director of music

The Spin piece on the MTV layoffs is a good read - I'd really recommend it if anyone's wondering how and what went on. It's very disappointing to see the details, like this horroshow:
Hopper also told the staff in October that “from time to time we do show [articles] to the heads of music and talent departments so they can sign off, or answer any questions about concerns they might have,” explaining that MTV News existed in an “ecosystem” where blowback from artists due to critical articles would land in the laps of other departments at the network. In turn, this meant the editors consented to arrangements that stepped outside the standard practices of journalism.
From the outside, it seemed too good to be sustainable, but I wouldn't have guessed that kind of bullshit was going on to boot.

And to join the chorus, I hate video, I'm old, and I still buy cassette tapes and like long articles.
posted by carbide at 12:02 AM on July 12, 2017 [5 favorites]


Hmm... I just saw something about this earlier today, let me see if I can find the tweet.

ahhh, here we go...
posted by ckape at 12:33 AM on July 12, 2017 [7 favorites]


It might be that as we become resistant to advertising in all forms, advertisers need more of our time to achieve their goal.
Videos would perfect for this because they tie our attention even if the content is trite. When you combine it with your ability to skip videos, you might end up with being served an add for every 10 seconds of video that starts playing and that you decide you don't want to watch anymore.

And once they get you hooked, you will not help yourself but click on ad-laden content again and again.
posted by Laotic at 12:56 AM on July 12, 2017 [2 favorites]


I should mention that as I read that Newsweek article I did NOT see the accompanying video.

I have a Pi-hole blocking domains at the DNS level and Adblock+ in the browser.
posted by mikelieman at 1:09 AM on July 12, 2017 [3 favorites]


my browser, google chrome on mac os, is set not to play videos until i click on them

the web is becoming an annoying experience because of all the crap that's being put on web sites
posted by pyramid termite at 1:42 AM on July 12, 2017 [4 favorites]


I'm surprised they didn't also mention that Fox Sports just did the same thing that MTV News did, right down to firing several of the best writers in their field.
posted by Etrigan at 1:51 AM on July 12, 2017 [4 favorites]


News sites are pivoting to video because of unintuitive, mind warping data like this: 85 percent of Facebook video is watched without sound. It makes executives and marketers shit their brain pants and make all kinds of silly decisions.

Also, pivoting might not be the best metaphor for news sites. The term means a startup that has fundamentally failed to verify the soundness of its business model to cheat its way to an IPO, forcing the startup to desperately find a new, just slightly less unstable business model, before they run out of other people's money.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 2:03 AM on July 12, 2017 [13 favorites]


And once they get you hooked, you will not help yourself but click on ad-laden content again and again.

I don't know about you guys, but frequently I will close a page rather than be forced to watch video.

When I link pages from Metafilter, especially whenever I do one of my long, link-filled followups to a Last Week Tonight episode over on Fanfare, I purposely avoid pages with autoplay, ride-along video whenever possible. At least once, I seem to remember, I've foregone adding a link because of obnoxious video. (YouTube pages get a pass because, c'mon, a video is the whole point. And hard news rarely gets distributed on YouTube anyway.)

If you annoy me with your videos, news orgs, your Google Rank will suffer, even if by a tiny bit. I'm sympathetic to your plight but not to the extent of inflicting your annoyingness on anyone, either myself or other people.
posted by JHarris at 2:10 AM on July 12, 2017 [27 favorites]


I hate videos for the same reason I really don't do podcasts. I read fast, and I have hearing issues. So, what they are telling me is I don't get to consume the media in a format I can devour at my preferred absurd paste AND yeah, you'd better turn that up so you can hear (another issue NON-EXISTANT with print). I think I have made my position clear on this in previous posts. Plenty of them. And that is not even counting the issue of being on a not terribly fast DSL connection (plenty fast for text, mind you) and poorly optimized video players.

Yeah, too many words. I know. I should have vlogged it, right?
posted by Samizdata at 2:17 AM on July 12, 2017 [12 favorites]


I have a Pi-hole blocking domains at the DNS level and Adblock+ in the browser.

Could I do the same thing with my router ? I have installed uBlock Origin in my browser but it doesn't block videos.
posted by Pendragon at 3:01 AM on July 12, 2017 [1 favorite]


Josh Marshall, the editor-in-chief and publisher of Talking Points Memo, has been outspoken and skeptical of this shift for a while. He says the trend is symptomatic of a monetization crisis in the news industry. The problem is “too many publications chasing too few dollars—a long-term problem and, with social platforms engrossing all the new ad dollars, a relatively new and accelerating problem,” Marshall tells Newsweek via email.


This is the base problem that effects every content provider on the Internet, not just news. Most of the ad dollars are going to Google and Facebook, and only a shrinking fraction of the pie remains for everyone else. I don't know the solution (it sure isn't video), but something needs to be done or there'll eventually be nothing left in the end but user-generated memes and a small number of websites owned by billionaires.
posted by Kevin Street at 3:11 AM on July 12, 2017 [12 favorites]


And once they get you hooked, you will not help yourself but click on ad-laden content again and again.

People don't get addicted to experiences they find annoying.

In a way, that's the whole Emperor's New Clothes crux of it. People find ads annoying, and the internet makes them easy to skip. If people can get to the content without seeing the ad, they will. If you make it impossible to see the content without seeing the ad, people will go view other content. Videos are just the last bastion where it seems like the old magic trick still works --- that is, that the reader/user's attention is held snugly enough by the content that you can slip the ad by them as well. But it's just another lie advertisers are telling themselves. It might take a few years but we'll see the same breakdown.

The great winnowing continues. Seems like the internet wants to make every industry like itself---a power law made manifest, with a handful of big monopolies who are the only ones that make any money, and million struggling amateurs who are broke. Google and Facebook make money off internet ads, no one else does.
posted by Diablevert at 3:17 AM on July 12, 2017 [17 favorites]


Jinx, Kevin Street.
posted by Diablevert at 3:21 AM on July 12, 2017


I have installed uBlock Origin in my browser but it doesn't block videos.

Lately I've been using uBlock to block that "Video installs itself in the bottom-right corner of the browser page as you scroll" anti-pattern on sites I visit. Maybe I should publish a list.
posted by Leon at 3:22 AM on July 12, 2017 [18 favorites]


My next startup idea is: a subscription newsletter where, twice a day, we will email you a plain text typed digest of what the news channels are videocasting, with transcripts (precise words paraphrased or commented to avoid copyright issues). Basic service will be free; for an added monthly charge you get to email/tweet us a URL and we'll transcribe it and summarize in your next digest. (For, say, $5/month you get 60 minutes of personalized transcripts; over 60 minutes we'll ding you for $1/minute because our cost structure factors in some overlap between different customer requests, hence the low basic hourly rate.)

For an extra fee we will print it out on paper and mail it to you daily. We call this deluxe service "news on paper".

Anyone want to invest? We could make a killing!
posted by cstross at 3:41 AM on July 12, 2017 [30 favorites]


FTFA "But in digital journalism, the customer (that’s you) is regarded as being demonstrably wrong, because the customer is seldom willing to pay to read internet journalism, and certainly not cultural criticism."

Um, didn't we have a guy around some time ago who said something about not paying for it therefore not something?

Sorry, WRITER, not going to go re-open that shitbag link of autoplay video to find out who you are, if you're still pushing that line about the eyeball at the root of the cursor being the customer, um, I guess you think Newsweek readers are that dumb. Well... on preview.
posted by Gotanda at 4:01 AM on July 12, 2017


For, say, $5/month you get 60 minutes of personalized transcripts

I'm in. Where do I sign up. No, really. I want this.
posted by Gotanda at 4:04 AM on July 12, 2017 [3 favorites]


MTV has long been searching for a replacement to it's golden goose: being paid for showing other people's expensively made videos. The killed that goose with Cribs and the thousand Real World's, and now they've got a bunch of fancy offices and management wonks, and not a clue as to how to make any money.
posted by The River Ivel at 4:13 AM on July 12, 2017 [4 favorites]


Internet killed the video star... 🎼🎵🎶

This seems to happen a lot in Marketing--where the data will tell you all about how customers want a particular type of experience, or how they emphatically don't want another type, and some VP will say, "The data is wrong and I'm right," and insist that an experience be created that goes against the data. Then it isn't successful with customers and the same executives bemoan, "What do we do?" Do what the data says.

If one wants to use banner ads as an example, one of the reasons they're still used is because they're very inexpensive to produce and serve. But over the years, Internet users have literally gotten to the point where they don't see banner ads anymore. If you tell someone to click on a banner ad, it'll take them a moment to figure out that there's one on the page. That's how ubiquitous and invisible that form of advertising has become. Forcing someone into a presentation, where their choice is to click away or to tolerate it, they'll click away. (Especially for something like news, where the same information is delivered in many other places.) Do it enough, and their brains will just stop acknowledging that the content is there.

MTV sounds like they've lost the plot about their mission. Even if their news site did just become a series of videos, how does that distinguish them from YouTube? What do they offer that CNN, the Washington Post, and the NYT don't? Apparently they *did* have some amazing writers for a while, but that's gone.

This is the base problem that effects every content provider on the Internet, not just news. Most of the ad dollars are going to Google and Facebook, and only a shrinking fraction of the pie remains for everyone else.

True if you're talking about hosting videos, which is expensive and requires a powerful backbone. But the thing about content is that it has to be compelling if you want people to look at it. That's true no matter what form the content takes. Google is successful because it built its reputation on delivering relevant content--information tailored to the web searches that users were performing. Facebook is successful because it built its reputation on delivering relevant content--information from their friends and family. What relevant content is MTV delivering? Sounds like that's what they need to figure out.
posted by Autumnheart at 4:45 AM on July 12, 2017 [5 favorites]


> Anyone want to invest? We could make a killing!

I would sign up as so fast the subscription form would leave scorch marks up the Internet.

But any dotcom* business plan that starts labor-intensive without a means to diminish the human capital aspect within a projected timespan will never draw the investments necessary to get as far as buying the snappy domain name. They want you to tell them that all your transcriptionists currently sitting in San Jose will be replaced with machines (preferable) or with jobworkers in the Philippines (will not attract the Kleiner Perkins-level venture capitalists).

*('Dotcom' as a particular sort of term for particular sorts of Internet-based businesses really needs a revival.)
posted by ardgedee at 4:49 AM on July 12, 2017 [2 favorites]


Metafilter: an annoying experience because of all the crap that's being put on web sites
posted by Sing Or Swim at 5:01 AM on July 12, 2017 [2 favorites]


Subscription newsletter where, twice a day, we will email you a plain text typed digest of what the news channels are videocasting

I know this is a semi-joke, but I've subscribed to PhirePhoenix's daily newsletter and it's a really useful way of digesting What Those Idiots* Are Up To Now without having to navigate the endless articles on news sites or decipher what everyone on Twitter is joking about today. I find it especially useful as a non-American as it explains the context behind stuff succinctly and clearly.

*you know the ones
posted by EndsOfInvention at 5:22 AM on July 12, 2017 [7 favorites]


And here's today's newsletter as an example.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 5:24 AM on July 12, 2017 [2 favorites]


ardgee: But any dotcom* business plan that starts labor-intensive without a means to diminish the human capital aspect within a projected timespan will never draw the investments necessary to get as far as buying the snappy domain name. Yes, yes, I know! (Been there, done the death march, survived the IPO, never going there again.)

I figure that there's a long tail attached to news coverage; the same damn stories get regurgitated and copied and relayed time after time. So consider the real value proposition to be a suitably indexed database of stories with sufficiently good search and cacheing that it's not necessary for a keyboard monkey to manually respond to every transcription request because 98% of the time the job's already been done. And for the rest? Go for speech-to-text software scraping the audio track out of the videos and a quick human once-over to edit it for cohesion, like a closed captioning system. Given how stereotypical most news videos are in structure and narrative form, I figure you could eventually train a DNN to do the tidy-up work, and relegate human intervention to QA checks on the output (and subsequent re-training).

Money for nothing and your news for free!
posted by cstross at 5:30 AM on July 12, 2017 [1 favorite]




.
posted by drezdn at 5:34 AM on July 12, 2017


None of these articles have explained my latest question about Facebook. Why do so many click-bait Facebook pages now make their posts in the form of a video of a still picture with no music or movement at all? Do they get more ad revenue for videos than photos? I've been assuming that's the answer but how does it work? Do they get paid by how long the video runs?
posted by interplanetjanet at 5:40 AM on July 12, 2017 [2 favorites]


I don't know about you guys, but frequently I will close a page rather than be forced to watch video.

And I will back out of any YouTube video that has an unskippable ad before the content. Any one. No matter how interested I am in the subject. Because fuck advertising.
posted by Splunge at 6:24 AM on July 12, 2017 [3 favorites]


Also by far the most irritating internet news video trend (after autoplay) is those 90-second to 3-minute videos that PAN ACROSS STILL PICTURES with some bouncy music in the background while popping phrases up on the screen to explain some damn thing that could have been done with five pictures and a paragraph of text and FUCK YOU NEWS WORD VIDEO GUY.

This and images of plain or slightly formatted text are some of my least favourite things about the modern internet. Seriously, text! Use text! Actual text, not a jeg or video render of some fucking text, just give us the text! Like, imagine how much bullshit this is for anyone using a screen reader. Seriously, plain. Fucking. Text. Jesus, internet.
posted by Dysk at 6:28 AM on July 12, 2017 [16 favorites]


85 percent of Facebook video is watched without sound

Does this take into account the fact that some clients will auto-play the video as you scroll through your feed but you have to manually turn on the sound?
posted by Slothrup at 6:31 AM on July 12, 2017 [1 favorite]


Why do so many click-bait Facebook pages now make their posts in the form of a video of a still picture with no music or movement at all?

The Facebook algorithm favors video and serves it up more often, but is too stupid to know when spammers are gaming the system with videos of still images.
posted by maxsparber at 6:42 AM on July 12, 2017 [7 favorites]


They want you to tell them that all your transcriptionists currently sitting in San Jose will be replaced with machines (preferable) or with jobworkers in the Philippines (will not attract the Kleiner Perkins-level venture capitalists).

It's not like we're that far from the former. Voice recognition is kicking ass right now. How do you think your visual voicemail gets transcribed? How do you think Alexa, Siri, & Google know what you're saying?
posted by leotrotsky at 6:45 AM on July 12, 2017


Lately I've been using uBlock to block that "Video installs itself in the bottom-right corner of the browser page as you scroll" anti-pattern on sites I visit. Maybe I should publish a list.

Um, so how - precisely, in detailed steps - did you do that? Asking for a friend.
posted by Naberius at 6:45 AM on July 12, 2017 [5 favorites]


If people wanted video, they'd go to Youtube rather than having you jam autoplaying monstrosities in their face.

Oddly enough, almost all of the young people I know use YouTube almost exclusively for listening to music (b/c cheaper than Spotify)
posted by sexyrobot at 6:50 AM on July 12, 2017 [8 favorites]


I hate algorithmic sorting in social media so very, very much. I guess the video thing at least demonstrates that it is in no way about user preferences.
posted by Artw at 6:52 AM on July 12, 2017 [3 favorites]


It makes executives and marketers shit their brain pants and make all kinds of silly decisions.

One silly decision I've noticed - just over the past few weeks! - is ads placed in the MIDDLE of these 60-90 second video clips. The content draws me in, and about 10 seconds into the video there's a message in the corner of the screen: "ad starts in 5... 4... 3..."

So now you're chopping up what's already a bite-sized plug of info? I fail to understand how TRY MY NEW DISH SOAP! TOUGH ON GREASE AND HELPS YOU SAVE WATER! that helps anyone retain information.
posted by pianoblack at 6:53 AM on July 12, 2017 [4 favorites]


Does this take into account the fact that some clients will auto-play the video as you scroll through your feed but you have to manually turn on the sound?

I found out rather uncomfortably that on my phone, the Facebook video is silent unless the phone is turned to landscape, which means when I stopped scrolling at a random spot on my timeline, then set down my phone, it inadvertently switched to landscape and started screaming loudly whatever video was close enough to the viewable screen, and I couldn't quiet it until I un-landscaped the phone.

The problem with video is time -- I can quickly scan an article to see if I want to consume the entire content, or just glean what little I can from it. Video, not so -- especially since there's incentive (particularly on YouTube) to make videos as long as possible, padding out the interesting content with intros, cute jokes, ending pages with extra links and crap to click on, etc. I particularly hate how-to videos, because what could have been a page of succinct instructions, tips, and photos is expanded into 10 - 15 minutes of excruciatingly watching a guy remove screws. "Remove the 16 screws" is four words, 20 characters, but twenty seconds is a loooong time to watch someone doing it.

Now, this doesn't count with funny animal videos, of course. I think the people that are producing statistics of how video is a much-watched format are neglecting to include the content as part of their analysis. Video is a poor source for true information; even informational documentaries are watched as part of 'entertainment' time.
posted by AzraelBrown at 6:55 AM on July 12, 2017 [7 favorites]


I'm a big fan of the buzzfeed-style hybrid video/gif/photo articles*. Maximum flexibility to choose the format and the pace for content consumption (since some things do work better on video!). And no autoplay, of course, that's incredibly user-hostile.

Why do so many click-bait Facebook pages now make their posts in the form of a video of a still picture with no music or movement at all?
I've heard tell that pages get better analytics about videos. Also, the algorithm favors them. It's pretty new and I imagine facebook is already working on something to filter that sort of stuff out in the future, though.

*sorry for the inane content, it was the first such article I found in my superquick search.
posted by R a c h e l at 6:55 AM on July 12, 2017 [1 favorite]


So now you're chopping up what's already a bite-sized plug of info? I fail to understand how TRY MY NEW DISH SOAP! TOUGH ON GREASE AND HELPS YOU SAVE WATER! that helps anyone retain information.

Well, obviously the answer is that they're not educators and that the only even vaguely arguable thing they could say on that front is that presenting the information with an ad in the middle is more informative than not presenting it at all.

But mostly I wanted to say... hey, if it were an ad for dish soap, at least that's a real product that a sane person might want to buy and might be interested in, even if it's dull. In real life surely the ad would be more likely to be a video ad sell scammy gold products, or herbal viagra, or some other scam or product no reasonable person would ever want. If the net's ads were typically for soap or even Ron Popeil style stuff, and weren't malware and scams, I'd hate them less.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:05 AM on July 12, 2017 [2 favorites]


mtv news pivoting to video?

isn't that like the daily planet pivoting to newspapers?
posted by entropicamericana at 7:07 AM on July 12, 2017 [4 favorites]


I really loved a lot of the MTV News writers including the group of ex-Grantland people. I probably followed at least 10 writers on twitter. But I can count on one hand the number of stories I ever read aside from Amy Nicholson's movie reviews, and that's because, across the board, they did an utterly god-awful job of promoting their work. The @MTVNews handle was useless because 90% of what it posted was Just Jared-esque teen celebrity news (and not interesting or well-written gossip, which I love) and it posted a LOT, so I unfollowed. The MTV News site was similarly confusing, with the same ratio of useless (to me) celebrity news. The writers, as a group, never tweeted the proper social links to their stories (so that a picture and preview shows up in the feed) but rather linked to their work with really enthusiastic yet opaque language (e.g. "this is the best thing I've ever edited"-- well what is it? you say that ten times a week). I realize this makes me a lousy content consumer, but sorry not sorry, this is extremely basic stuff and they totally dropped the ball.

There was also a moment when the Netflix show 13 Reasons Why (which was a HUGE hit with teens) was in the news. Vulture, Buzzfeed etc were churning out thinkpieces by the dozen, for good reason-- the show sparked a lot of conversation! Yet all the aforementioned writers were joking and snarking about how they had no idea what it was. I remember thinking at that time that the site was going to fail, because how do you work for MTV News yet revel in your ignorance of teen culture?
posted by acidic at 7:16 AM on July 12, 2017 [10 favorites]


Nothing will steer me away from a potentially interesting news story or article faster than seeing it is in video form. The only exception that comes to mind is when the story is about something which is itself in video format (CCTV feed of a robbery or something of the sort).

At the same time, this is more than mildly distressing:
Josh Marshall, the editor-in-chief and publisher of Talking Points Memo, has been outspoken and skeptical of this shift for a while. He says the trend is symptomatic of a monetization crisis in the news industry. The problem is “too many publications chasing too few dollars—a long-term problem and, with social platforms engrossing all the new ad dollars, a relatively new and accelerating problem,” Marshall tells Newsweek via email.
Does the editor-in-chief of TPM know the difference between engrossing and engulfing?
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:20 AM on July 12, 2017


the web is becoming an annoying experience because of all the crap that's being put on web sites

Becoming?
posted by Automocar at 7:20 AM on July 12, 2017 [2 favorites]


One of these days someone will figure out how to approach ads in a way that is inoffensive and effective. But today is not that day. For today you will have clueless men and women in boardrooms frantically gesturing at whiteboards trying to make their user data match their preferred course of action, which is of course serving ads from an ad network over cheap low-effort content.

In my opinion, switching from cheap content-mill articles written by underpaid twenty-something freelancers to one-minute videos about recycled news is just shuffling the furniture on the Titanic. I suspect paid content is the future, but someone has to step forward and start making content worth paying for.
posted by FakeFreyja at 7:21 AM on July 12, 2017


The great winnowing continues. Seems like the internet wants to make every industry like itself---a power law made manifest, with a handful of big monopolies who are the only ones that make any money, and million struggling amateurs who are broke. Google and Facebook make money off internet ads, no one else does.

Exactly, back in the mid late 90's, a little hobby website I did made a decent amount of money from advertising. Enough, that I was able to pay folks for good content and occasionally travel to cover an event. I made the ads unobtrusive and relevant to the site and the advertisers were happy with the results. Unfortunately, I had to stop working on the site as advertiser and networks pretty much started to want to hijack my page with ads and pay peanuts. It just wasn't worth the effort any longer.
posted by remo at 7:30 AM on July 12, 2017 [2 favorites]


The new fad is video with text that covers the video while generic stock music plays. The worst of all worlds.

If I wanted your website to make noise, I'll lick my finger and rub it on the screen.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 7:52 AM on July 12, 2017 [12 favorites]


Members of Website Consisting of Nothing But Walls of Text Rail Against Video. In other news, Triangles Pray To Three Sided God.
posted by gwint at 8:01 AM on July 12, 2017 [49 favorites]


The most aggravating video-related shit for me is online help or how-to material in the form of a video when all any reasonable person wants or needs is five numbered sentences in the right order. Tell me to click Start if that's the next step. Don't you dare show me video of how to click Start, with the mouse pointer slowly traversing the screen to a button labelled Start while a narrator describes this journey of pointer to destination, or I will leave something in your comments that drives Googling customers away.
posted by pracowity at 8:05 AM on July 12, 2017 [8 favorites]


Thanks for the plug, EndsOfInvention! I should also mention that the newsletter makes a point of flagging up links that have autoplay video because OH MY GOD PEOPLE STOP IT.
posted by Phire at 8:07 AM on July 12, 2017 [6 favorites]


It's interesting reading everyone's discussion about media, news, video, and surprisingly I'm not seeing any mention of Twitch. I've only recently started to become a fan of Twitch streams and it blew my mind to learn that it's not just limited to videos of people playing video games or talking about video games.

There's a lot of diverse content on that site. Life style vlogs, make-up tutorials, chat shows about books, films, celebrity culture, pop culture marathons (MST3K, Mr. Rogers), eSport competitions, etc. Yes it is gamer-centric and that is the majority of its fanbase but it's also starting to feel a lot like YouTube in the variety of streams that you can consume and follow. And it has a built in social media structure where you can interact, donate, with individuals you want to support.

If I'm going to make a prediction as to how the digital media landscape might shift, I see it moving in this direction. Specifically with the built in donate, pay-money, support content creators set up that Twitch has.
posted by Fizz at 8:24 AM on July 12, 2017


Another problematic aspect of "Play whether you want it or not" is that it uses up your mobile data, and a lot of people are surfing primarily on mobile these days. Adding *more* video only strains a network's bandwidth further.
posted by Autumnheart at 8:38 AM on July 12, 2017 [7 favorites]


The most aggravating video-related shit for me is online help or how-to material in the form of a video when all any reasonable person wants or needs is five numbered sentences in the right order.

-Crappy intro sequence
-Awkward introduction by host
-Host tells us to like/subscribe
-Ad for Audible/Loot Crate/Go Daddy
-Actual how-to information presented in excruciating long form, often skipping or not focusing on things you need to see/know
-More awkward banter
-Don't forget to like/subscribe
posted by Sangermaine at 8:41 AM on July 12, 2017 [8 favorites]


That Onion link has me pondering if there's a word (possibly german) for that feeling that is equal parts wanting to stand up and say "Bravo!" and going "Gaaaaaaaaaaah!"
posted by TwoWordReview at 8:45 AM on July 12, 2017 [1 favorite]


Anyone want to invest? We could make a killing!

Unfortunately for your gnomes, Youtube does this already (as an accessibility feature, I think). this even works (quite semi-decently) with auto-translation.

Although, I do pay $5/mo to get my phone voicemail transcribed and I can tell you that that's a very significant increase in my QoL.
posted by bonehead at 8:50 AM on July 12, 2017


People don't get addicted to experiences they find annoying.

Oh yes we do. Even more. Or else why would I go on Twitter and read EVERYONE'S AWFUL AND WRONG OPINIONS?!
posted by overeducated_alligator at 8:56 AM on July 12, 2017 [3 favorites]


From the article:
In other industries, like retail, the cliché is that “the customer is always right.” But in digital journalism, the customer (that’s you) is regarded as being demonstrably wrong, because the customer is seldom willing to pay to read internet journalism, and certainly not cultural criticism.

If they're not paying for it, they're not actually the customer, are they?
posted by radwolf76 at 9:48 AM on July 12, 2017


I wonder if I could create a local DOM scraper that would route the video to a simulated "virtual person" "watching" the video portion of their stupid ass site in resident memory with "sound on" but not routed to the sound device and "video streaming" but not to my monitor, with closed captioned text spitting all the words out to a reasonably formatted page for me to read at my leisure...
posted by Annika Cicada at 9:50 AM on July 12, 2017 [3 favorites]


This is my fucking computer, goddammit.
posted by Annika Cicada at 9:51 AM on July 12, 2017 [7 favorites]


a lot of people are surfing primarily on mobile these days

This is especially true in the developing world, where bandwidth can be quite expensive.

For example, in the West African country where I do research, it's around $18 for 5GB of mobile data. This is out of reach of most people, so those that can afford mobile data at all buy it in smaller amounts, say 100MB, when they have the spare cash.

Websites that eat bandwidth with useless, data-intensive videos actually make me angry because they're so wasteful and exclusionary. The way website design has become so bloated in general makes me angry, but auto-loading, auto-play videos are the worst. Especially when it's on things like news sites - things that I think are important for people to have access to.

I know that sites like CNN and Newsweek probably don't care about internet users in Africa, because they aren't valuable as ad viewers, but damn, the siloed internet is terrible enough already.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 9:53 AM on July 12, 2017 [16 favorites]


I have a Pi-hole blocking domains at the DNS level and Adblock+ in the browser.

Could I do the same thing with my router ? I have installed uBlock Origin in my browser but it doesn't block videos.


Probably not. Got an old computer or laptop floating around? If so, MeMail me. I will walk you through (in text or phone if needs must) what you need to do.

Also, I had never seen or heard Phire's newsletter before. She's got a new subscriber, despite the fact ReCaptcha was fighting me all the way.
posted by Samizdata at 10:01 AM on July 12, 2017


I'm not at all sure how to suggest on this text-tastic text-heavy site full of text-lovers (and one demographically skewed towards users from the days when it was nothin' but text all round these here world wide web fields) that perhaps they're already quite well served by the internet but that there might be DIFFERENT, OTHER PEOPLE for whom video is a much more natural experience and who would quite like to see videos, even for news.

Just because you -- hell, we -- are good at ingesting hundreds of thousands of words in a session doesn't mean everybody is.

This whole video thing could be solved by taking away the email accounts of anyone who suggests the switch. Make them communicate via video for everything. If they lasted 24 hours, I would be shocked.

You know there's a whole generation coming up who use Snapchat and Instagram stories as their default communication tools, even for eg class group work? Sure, text is in the mix there, but it's not like video is a medium they find impossible to communicate over -- quite the opposite.

BUT: I don't meant to defend a lot of the anti-patterns people are complaining about here. Lots of sites doing video in terrible, user-hostile, atagonistic ways. To my mind, video online is really still in the geocities/under construction era of "throw it at the wall and see what sticks". Either that or they treat it like a fancy TV (YouTube/Netflix/et al).

I'm just saying that maybe it's more nuanced than "death to autoplay!". My TV autoplays, as soon as I switch it on. When I change channel, I don't then have to press "play" to start the programme. When one programme ends, I don't have to hit "play" to see the next.

The web can do more with video than carefully surround it with 2000 words and hide it behind a triangle button. People should be allowed to try.
posted by bonaldi at 10:12 AM on July 12, 2017 [3 favorites]


For example, in the West African country where I do research, it's around $18 for 5GB of mobile data. This is out of reach of most people, so those that can afford mobile data at all buy it in smaller amounts, say 100MB, when they have the spare cash.

At my day job our research is showing that users on those plans will seek out videos to watch, bookmark them for later, and then download them on wifi. So even in bandwidth-constrained environments like you're describing, the solution is still not necessarily "text and text alone", it's "give me enough context to decide if this video will be worth my time, and then easily let me save it for later and download it when I'm able".
posted by bonaldi at 10:14 AM on July 12, 2017 [5 favorites]


I'm just saying that maybe it's more nuanced than "death to autoplay!". My TV autoplays, as soon as I switch it on. When I change channel, I don't then have to press "play" to start the programme. When one programme ends, I don't have to hit "play" to see the next.

Your TV is a device specifically made and used for playing video and TV signals. Your computer or web browser is not. It really is as simple as "death to autoplay!".

The web can do more with video than carefully surround it with 2000 words and hide it behind a triangle button. People should be allowed to try.

In the same way people should be allowed to conduct research on extremely infectious diseases: only under the strictest security protocols completely isolated from the world at large.
posted by Sangermaine at 10:24 AM on July 12, 2017 [9 favorites]


Yeah, I too dislike the video-ization of web sites, but that where the ad inventory is.

I think more sites need to look at the insane-but-is-it-really second option: that they don't get revenue from ad networks.

Ad networks are a race to the bottom. Video ads seem like a way out but what if... you just found a different way to monetize. I know. It's nuts. But it might just work.
posted by GuyZero at 10:28 AM on July 12, 2017 [1 favorite]


There's also the factor that TVs come with an on/off button and an ability to change the channel. There's no feature where the remote disables the channel button and plays a commercial before it allows you to use it. And TV networks are not continually searching for ways to turn your TV on and play some advertising even when you've powered it off. But there still was an analogous TV issue when TiVo was disallowed by the FCC to include the feature where you could record a show but not the commercials.
posted by Autumnheart at 10:29 AM on July 12, 2017 [2 favorites]


I wish there were a good way to fast-forward to a federated subscription system for new and cultural writing. Because I would be very happy for a Netflix-ish model where I paid $10-$30 each month to support writing I liked, but no single site is worth that much.
posted by dame at 10:31 AM on July 12, 2017 [1 favorite]


Like a Pandora of writing?
posted by Autumnheart at 10:33 AM on July 12, 2017


Kindle Unlimited does include some periodicals in their selection.

When I think about it, it seems like publishing rights is the biggest barrier preventing something like this. One could curate a catalog easily enough, there are certainly many successful models to choose from, but getting the publishing rights would be quite an endeavor. Then again, maybe that's what Kindle Unlimited is striving to do; they already have tons of publishers on board for their text and audiobooks.
posted by Autumnheart at 10:38 AM on July 12, 2017 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I think we can't get sidestep the issue of subverted user expectations re: content medium. Instagram and Snapchat stories are designed to autoplay and auto-advance, and I would never begrudge a YouTube page for playing a video as soon as it loads. I get 2GB a month and still often save interesting looking videos to watch at home. 17776 has a huge video component and I haven't been this delighted by anything in a long time. But if a page bills itself as an article (not a visualization, not a multimedia experience, not an interactive feature, but a news article), and then four things pop up on load that prevent me from reading the words that I was told this article would feature because we decided fifteen years ago the web would be ad-funded, I think it's disingenuous to frame this as simply old people being upset at new media.
posted by Phire at 10:39 AM on July 12, 2017 [1 favorite]


dame, I ponied up the $5 a month for Medium Premium and so far it's been really interesting. Hit and miss, but I'm curious to see where it goes.
posted by Phire at 10:39 AM on July 12, 2017 [1 favorite]


bonaldi: "I'm not at all sure how to suggest on this text-tastic text-heavy site full of text-lovers (and one demographically skewed towards users from the days when it was nothin' but text all round these here world wide web fields) that perhaps they're already quite well served by the internet but that there might be DIFFERENT, OTHER PEOPLE for whom video is a much more natural experience and who would quite like to see videos, even for news.

Just because you -- hell, we -- are good at ingesting hundreds of thousands of words in a session doesn't mean everybody is.
"

No argument per se but sites should provide a transcript so those unable/unwilling to watch/see the video aren't locked out. Video only is a big impediment to deaf, blind or low band width users and are enabled by a text option.
posted by Mitheral at 10:42 AM on July 12, 2017 [3 favorites]


Videos are already required to be ADA-compliant, including transcripts and descriptions, and/or equivalent alternatives. Granted, compliance enforcement may vary and the law doesn't apply outside the US.
posted by Autumnheart at 10:58 AM on July 12, 2017


People should be allowed to try.

The results of their attempts thus far suggest otherwise.
posted by PMdixon at 11:03 AM on July 12, 2017 [1 favorite]


You know there's a whole generation coming up who use Snapchat and Instagram stories as their default communication tools, even for eg class group work? Sure, text is in the mix there, but it's not like video is a medium they find impossible to communicate over -- quite the opposite.


You know that marketers trying to sell BS usually assure us that It's What the Young People are Doing Nowadays, right? Such claims, especially about how they will translate into adult tasks, always need to be taken with a whopping pile of salt.
posted by praemunire at 11:03 AM on July 12, 2017 [10 favorites]


Even if Young People do a thing a lot, that doesn't mean there's money to be made there. And video has been around since today's Young People were a gleam in their Gen X parents' eye, yet the issue of bandwidth is still a factor, since the infrastructure of the American internet backbone has not advanced on par with the rest of the world.

The argument especially does not hold water when the data analytics do, in fact, say that people don't watch videos nearly as much as they read text. If you're a marketing person and you want someone to look at your shit, you should not be ignoring that and deciding on video anyway because you think you're smarter than your user data. You should be putting it in the format people look at.
posted by Autumnheart at 11:09 AM on July 12, 2017 [6 favorites]


then four things pop up on load that prevent me from reading the words that I was told this article would feature because we decided fifteen years ago the web would be ad-funded, I think it's disingenuous to frame this as simply old people being upset at new media

Agreed, but it's equally disingenuous to frame that horror show as "news sites are turning to video". Because there's video and video. Those sites are as bad as the ones that break a single text article up into seventeen pages interspersed with interstitial ads.

The fact that people do that doesn't mean we should just write off text, like.

argument especially does not hold water when the data analytics do, in fact, say that people don't watch videos nearly as much as they read text.

Again, maybe it's a bit more nuanced than that too. People the web works well for have so far *had* to be reading lots of text. So if you're trying to reach new people, maybe that won't be as true of them. And the analytics among users who do watch a lot of video suggest they read less text. And if your marketing goal is to have ad inventory that people will engage with or at least sit through, video ads definitely do better there than scroll-past-able text ads.
posted by bonaldi at 11:46 AM on July 12, 2017 [1 favorite]


Video ads seem like a way out but what if... you just found a different way to monetize.

They are. They are sorting themselves out into Patreon-supported one-to-five person content shops and about a dozen large media conglomerates --- Buzzfeed, CNN, Fox, WaPo, NYTimes, WSJ. That's what the web advertising and voluntary subscriptions of passionate fans will support. It's the mid-size stuff that's keeling over. It's a long time in the dying but that's where they're headed, pretty much. Some of the bigger old brands will limp along for quite a long time more --- fashion mags probably work better in print, and they may be able to sustain themselves in somewhat reduced circumstances for some time yet. But anything with, say, 20-60 staff, with health insurance and and office and laptops all round? Can't be done. A long time in the dying, but the rot's in the heart already.


You know there's a whole generation coming up who use Snapchat and Instagram stories as their default communication tools, even for eg class group work? Sure, text is in the mix there, but it's not like video is a medium they find impossible to communicate over -- quite the opposite.

TFA cites to a Reuters think tank study that says over 70% of news consumers prefer text to print and that this ratio is consistent across demographics and nationalities.[1] The kiddies may get a giggle over putting animated puppy ears over photos of their friends, that doesn't mean they want their news delivered via Anderson Cooper in a dog costume.

[1] "Despite greater exposure to online video news, we find that overall preferences have changed very little since we started tracking this issue four years ago. Across all markets over two-thirds (71%) say they mostly consume news in text, with 14% using text and video equally. This number has grown slightly in the United States but remains at under 10% in the UK and Nordic countries where more users get their online news direct from the
provider. Importantly, there are no significant age differences; young people also overwhelmingly prefer text." - p. 20.
posted by Diablevert at 11:48 AM on July 12, 2017 [6 favorites]


"70% of news consumers prefer text to print" -- is that supposed to be "text to video" or something like that?
posted by pracowity at 11:51 AM on July 12, 2017


I'm intrigued that video preferences haven't changed. The shift from desktop to mobile has been well into double digits year over year for the last 5 years, so clearly people will, and have, change their surfing habits where it benefits them. That statistic indicates that it isn't just a matter of interface making it more or less convenient to view video content.
posted by Autumnheart at 11:58 AM on July 12, 2017


is that supposed to be "text to video" or something like that?

You are correct. I fucked that up. I apologize for the error.
posted by Diablevert at 12:01 PM on July 12, 2017 [1 favorite]


If you'd done that in video, it would've taken us 3 minutes and a 15-second commercial from BMW before we saw it.
posted by Autumnheart at 12:10 PM on July 12, 2017 [7 favorites]


over 70% of news consumers prefer text to print and that this ratio is consistent across demographics and nationalities.[1]

Yep, online. And as we've seen, online video is terrible and really still in its infancy, both technically and editorially. (And especially as a relatively instant medium that could even conceivably compete with text).

But it's just not true that video is not a way to convey news and that audiences don't want it. The BBC's nightly 10pm news show has an audience roughly equivalent to the entire daily national newspaper circulation, and that was true even before print's implosion.

I find the antagonism to this concept a little odd, to be honest. I'm a text junkie, I completely understand the appeal. I have only recently started forcing myself to watch more online video to see if anyone is doing anything compelling there that would make me change my text-best instincts, and they mostly are not.

But I still think it's reasonable for publishers to do it, and for there to be audiences they can reach with it who don't think like I do. It's not zero-sum, this. Perhaps they'll create something we all find compelling too as a result.
posted by bonaldi at 12:33 PM on July 12, 2017 [1 favorite]


I would imagine the stickiness of the preference over time has a lot to do with having agency over information consumption, right, especially as the volume of information available to us has exploded in the past 15 years and everyone's trying to digest everything for fear of missing out. You can skim/ctrl+f in a news article, which you really can't over video, and if you want to pull out one quote to send to a friend or whatever you basically need to transcribe the video in most situations (or, if you're really keen, actually splice up the video itself), rather than being able to just copy/paste or screenshot the relevant sections. I really like TED's transcript system that lets you jump to a point in the video based on the text being spoken, so that if you really cared about the delivery of the speech or visual aids you can at least zoom in on that part, but a system like that is a lot of money and time and effort that not all news organizations (#notallnews) are willing to invest in.
posted by Phire at 12:35 PM on July 12, 2017 [3 favorites]


But it's just not true that video is not a way to convey news and that audiences don't want it. The BBC's nightly 10pm news show has an audience roughly equivalent to the entire daily national newspaper circulation, and that was true even before print's implosion.

The article specifically refers to online video and web content, not broadcast video.
posted by Autumnheart at 12:44 PM on July 12, 2017


It's not zero-sum, this.

MTV News just laid off a bunch of people as part of this zero-sum pivot. Fox Sports laid off all of its writers. This isn't some small website moving videos from the middle of the page to the top and one old guy quitting in protest.
posted by Etrigan at 12:45 PM on July 12, 2017 [6 favorites]


The bottom line, excuse the pun, is that the leadership for these companies or divisions are deciding to pivot to a strategy that we already know won't succeed. It's a bad business decision.
posted by Autumnheart at 12:57 PM on July 12, 2017


Does the editor-in-chief of TPM know the difference between engrossing and engulfing?

When I saw that, it seemed weird. But he's just using the word with one of its more obscure definitions:

engross
[en-grohs]


verb (used with object)
  1. to occupy completely, as the mind or attention; absorb: Their discussion engrossed his attention. She is engrossed in her work.
  2. to write or copy in a clear, attractive, large script or in a formal manner, as a public document or record: to engross a deed.
  3. to acquire the whole of (a commodity), in order to control the market; monopolize.
posted by Jpfed at 12:59 PM on July 12, 2017 [1 favorite]


The article specifically refers to online video and web content, not broadcast video.

As does my comment. I'm trying to say that people clearly find video news compelling in one broadcast. That they don't yet in the shitty barely-evolved-from-RealMedia-days web world is damning of that world, not AV as a medium

MTV News just laid off a bunch of people as part of this zero-sum pivot

Yes, that's true enough in the case of these two TV companies who have decided to do TV online instead of trying to be newspapers. But I don't know what people expected here: text journalism has always had to be subsidised by something. If classified ads worked for newspapers, video ads might work for online. And if text is as utterly essential as you all claim, when/if MTV starts making money from the video it'll have to add back in the text to compete.

And if it can't, well, I guess this truly is another stone in the Death Of Journalism road we've been paving for more than a decade now. Video is no more to blame for this than Craigslist though. At least you can still do real journalism with it.
posted by bonaldi at 12:59 PM on July 12, 2017 [1 favorite]


The key difference between web ads and billboards or tv spots is that on the web advertisers have sufficiently detailed analytics to actually tell how useless their ads are, whereas in those other media the advertisers still live in a state of optimistic ignorance. So the solution, I think, is to ban detailed analytics. Advertisers can't get cold feet about numbers they don't see.
posted by Pyry at 2:28 PM on July 12, 2017 [2 favorites]


MTV has long been searching for a replacement to it's golden goose: being paid for showing other people's expensively made videos. The killed that goose with Cribs and the thousand Real World's, and now they've got a bunch of fancy offices and management wonks, and not a clue as to how to make any money.

Hey, maybe they could hire Marissa Mayer!
posted by BigHeartedGuy at 2:31 PM on July 12, 2017 [3 favorites]


I'm trying to say that people clearly find video news compelling in one broadcast. That they don't yet in the shitty barely-evolved-from-RealMedia-days web world is damning of that world, not AV as a medium

AV isn't the medium. The World Wide Web is the medium. Video is the content.

People don't like to look at video advertising online. People vastly prefer text over video online. We know this because there is tons of data and user testing that says so. When looking for feasible online revenue streams, it doesn't matter that people like to watch television. That's not where you're trying to attract viewers.

The whole point of user-focused design in the context of the web is that you build something that people use. You don't build the thing you want and then try to convince everyone to use it; you do research to learn what people want to see, and then you build it. In the fields of usability and online marketing, we already know that people will not use a site that doesn't do what they want. They simply click away. That's why the argument about whether people consume video over other mediums is moot. We already have the data.

There are a ton of people in marketing who don't get this either. Obviously a number of them work for the companies mentioned in the article.

The key difference between web ads and billboards or tv spots is that on the web advertisers have sufficiently detailed analytics to actually tell how useless their ads are, whereas in those other media the advertisers still live in a state of optimistic ignorance

Not true. There's tons of data to be gleaned from traditional advertising. The issue is people who ignore the data. The same arguments occurring in this thread also occur in marketing departments everywhere, by decision makers. I've seen it happen with my own eyes in my workplace. Irrational decisions made in direct conflict with known analytics happen ALL the damn time.
posted by Autumnheart at 2:36 PM on July 12, 2017 [14 favorites]


Irrational decisions made in direct conflict with known analytics happen ALL the damn time.

but my gut
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 2:52 PM on July 12, 2017 [1 favorite]


> I'm surprised they didn't also mention that Fox Sports just did the same thing that MTV News did, right down to firing several of the best writers in their field.

Ken Rosenthal Now Writing On Facebook Because Fox Sports Sucks Ass
posted by tonycpsu at 2:59 PM on July 12, 2017


At my day job our research is showing that users on those plans will seek out videos to watch, bookmark them for later, and then download them on wifi

This research is being done on users from where, exactly?

Because the users I'm talking about don't have frequent access to wi-fi, if they have any access at all. There's no free public wi-fi anywhere, and an hour at an cyber café with a painfully slow connection might cost a day's worth of food. I've never seen anyone pay one to browse the internet on their phone. People share videos on memory cards and through bluetooth.

And that's the biggest towns; millions of people live in towns with no wi-fi at all.

So I'm surprised when you say that these users will bookmark videos to download them on wi-fi later. What wi-fi?

But let's be clear. No one is saying that the internet should be scrubbed of all videos. Most people in this thread complaining about the takeover of video probably watch a lot of video by choice. If there are people who want video news then let them have it. The issue is the replacement of accessible content with non-accessible content. And for me, specifically, the issue is that the overall bloatification of web design plays a big role in keeping people off of the internet in countries like Burkina Faso.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 3:11 PM on July 12, 2017 [11 favorites]


AV isn't the medium. The World Wide Web is the medium. Video is the content.
"I really can't decide what to watch on the World Wide Web this evening. Do I want this HD .MOV, or this 720p AVI? Argh. Oh, I heard this 4K H.264 got great reviews for its colourspace, I'll watch that". No, video is not the content. Video is a medium.

People vastly prefer text over video online. We know this because there is tons of data and user testing that says so.

No, there isn't. There is lots of caveated and qualified data, which caveats and qualifications you're ignoring in the rush to stan for text over video. If it was as generically true as you claim, Netflix would be dwarfed by the Kindle subscription library. YouTube wouldn't be the world's second-largest search engine. Instagram wouldn't dwarf Twitter. It's not, and they're not. (Suspect there's a similar tale in the way podcasting has confounded all the analytical wisdom about how little people like radio online).

The whole point of user-focused design in the context of the web is that you build something that people use.

I thought your bottom line was critiquing their bad business decision? Because the whole point of business is to build something that people will pay for. Sure, these two things are often related, but not inextricably, and especially not when the people paying are not the people consuming.

There are a ton of people in user-centred web design who don't get this either. Obviously many of them working for companies insulated from the need to make money by the bizarrely distorting effects of VC.

Both you and the article are weirdly orthogonal to this point, handwringing about the businessdroids deciding to turn their back on text, ignoring fantasy analytics data that somehow needs no interpretation, as if there were no other data they may also be considering, like income, or P&L.

True, video might not save them in the long term, but if they are "panicking" as the article suggests, it's because they know damn well that text won't save them either. What would you have them do? Go nobly bankrupt because their data says users like text better? Or are they allowed to try alternatives that might keep the lights on even if non-paying users don't like it quite as much?

This research is being done on users from where, exactly?
A number of sub-Saharan African countries. I can't talk about it much more here, but will see if I can get you something more in MeMail.
posted by bonaldi at 3:42 PM on July 12, 2017 [1 favorite]


One of the most horrifying things I've read about web advertising, that made me completely despair of the model, was someone advertising in an upscale magazine -- the New Yorker or Vanity Fair or somewhere like that -- that actually vets advertising and makes it reasonably high-quality and charges more to deliver a more affluent customer who flat-out told them, "We'll advertise with you for three months, use the tracking cookie you use to find out where else our target market is, and advertise to them more cheaply there."

Which is to say, even if you (internet site) do advertising right, your advertisers are there to steal your audience and undercut you. Horrifying.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:41 PM on July 12, 2017 [3 favorites]


That Onion link has me pondering if there's a word (possibly german) for that feeling that is equal parts wanting to stand up and say "Bravo!" and going "Gaaaaaaaaaaah!"

No equal parts here. When I saw it was a video with no transcript I closed it immediately. I used to like the Onion. I bet the video is funny. I can't give a shit enough to watch a fucking video clip anymore unless i already know there's something in it I want to see. No more mystery meat that turns out 90% of the time to be a shameless disrespectful waste of my time. Sorry Onion, the greedy ruined it for everyone, as usual.
posted by ctmf at 7:48 PM on July 12, 2017 [3 favorites]


The MOST annoying sites to me lead with an auto-play video at the top, text underneath, and I SWEAR they intentionally make the video take like 30 seconds to load. So I have to WAIT to press stop. I want to be reading, but if I do, I'll be halfway down the page when it starts playing noise at me, then have to scroll back up and kill it. Of course they play around with the location (and even contrast) of the stop button so it's harder to find. Bad news, shitheads, I know how to close a tab really fast.
posted by ctmf at 7:53 PM on July 12, 2017 [3 favorites]


Interesting bit about Facebook videos: it counts to advertisers as paid after 3 seconds of watching, which you may realize is simply the time it takes to scroll past. Those 3 seconds start as soon as 1 pixel is visible on the user's screen - not the full video, not half, but only 1 pixel is required.

So the marketers say wow, look how much engagement you got on video. The companies say wow, let's get more of that. And meanwhile the user, at best, doesn't care. It's bogglingly stupid.

Vote for me, I am running on a platform of luxury gay space communism and required transcriptions + captioning for all video on pain of death.
posted by hapaxes.legomenon at 9:17 PM on July 12, 2017 [5 favorites]


No equal parts here. When I saw it was a video with no transcript I closed it immediately. I used to like the Onion

the joke wouldn't be complete if it wasn't exactly what it's making fun of. I still like the Onion.
posted by philip-random at 9:33 PM on July 12, 2017 [4 favorites]


Could I do the same thing with my router ? I have installed uBlock Origin in my browser but it doesn't block videos.

Try its companion, UMatrix. It looks complicated, but the interface is actually very intuitive. It works like NoScript and allows you to control what scripts are loaded and run. I prefer it over NoScript simply because it's from the same developer as UBlock, Raymond Hill.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 7:40 AM on July 13, 2017


I think Buzzfeed perfected the easiest web content consumption format. Give me short blocks of text broken up by images/gifs all day, every day.
posted by BeginAgain at 8:05 AM on July 13, 2017 [1 favorite]




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