Friday 1 June 2018

Saturday Ramble - you tube

After the video fest of the last few days I pondered something which has been floating around in my head for quite a while. That being the shift from print media. The son of a mate said a few years ago that 'print media is dead'. He has a point; or if it's not dead it is definitely with a heavy cold. In the context of what I do here and what I have done over the last say five years with the writing of two beginner's manuals on railway modelling and the editor's chair of 009 News, certain questions arise.

Firstly regarding the later, there is a continual stream of questions about why the 009 Society journal cannot be published online. The answer for that is fairly simple: print run to cost ratio. Secondly, I note that even though the two book titles to your right are available in e-book form, the hard copy versions outsell these by a very large margin. The reasons for these opposing stats I believe are this: the magazine format is fleeting and is (and always has been) a throw away medium, while people like to read and keep books - they are tactile objects, especially with what are in effect manuals, and which are easier to transfer to the workbench in this form.

So where does that leave us and where are we going next? I'm going to take the mainstream news programmes as a pointer: ten years ago the TV news ignored facebook, twitter, bloggers and vloggers, now a goodly proportion of the content is made up of twitter feeds, phone and  youtube footage and the like. Things have shifted. And railway modelling? Well the print numbers are dropping slowly for all magazine titles and they all have digital screen versions, bar one. There is also a small shift to video footage either within these or in cover mounted DVDs. Change is afoot. People want instant graphic-heavy information, they are not bothered about reading large swathes of text. I used to write articles of 2,000 words, now anything more than 1,500 comes back with a polite 'can you cut it down a bit?' The older generation who were brought up with the writings of Cyril Freezer and the Rev. Denny are heading toward nursing homes and the new generation of modellers are coming at it via smart phones, youtube and DCC controller screens. Graphics are king.

I've had a youtube channel for a few years. It mainly contains short footage of layouts that caught my eye at exhibitions and are shown in the varying light of same. Also there is a bit of footage of some of the layouts featured here. So I've had a toe in the water for quite some time. What is noticeable is that while the layout view counts are only in the low hundreds, the one instructional video on wiring a PECO point through a slide switch is 80,000. Quite a difference and possibly because it's international in application. The overall question is, adding all these points together, should I be shifting this page totally, or at least partially, to a video format? It's an interesting challenge and one that is not without pitfalls. If the instructional format used it throws up all sorts of operation issues, not least timing: glue going off ,paint time, and off course there is the issue of what is a very close view subject being covered by the hands that are doing it .

The youtube channel can be found here

PS. This has just be mentioned in the comments. It is aimed at marketing bods, which this isn't, but the points are valid. I think that it refers to total switching, which wasn't what I was thinking. Lots to consider.


  1. Please don't. "Pivot to video" has become kind of a running joke of failure in digital media circles.

  2. OK I read it. Q: Why then ARE people (much richer and more powerful than I) making the move when they have research and marketing teams to find out exactly why they should be? This is sliding off topic, but I'm interested in the conclusions especially as the modelling publishing community seems keen to do this.

  3. "I'm going to take the mainstream news programmes as a pointer: ten years ago the TV news ignored facebook, twitter, bloggers and vloggers, now a goodly proportion of the content is made up of twitter feeds, phone and youtube footage and the like." - Not because it's good, but because it's cheap. Why spend money on expensive investigative journalism when you can just sit at a desk regurgitating stuff from Twitter? A few years ago, the BBC couldn't even be bothered to send someone to report on riots taking place outside their offices, preferring just to tell us what people were saying on Twitter, including from Sky who could get someone outside.

    To partially answer "Why then ARE people making the move..." partly because they want to be new and trendy and video stuff is new and trendy. There will be a new new and trendy along soon to invest in too.

  4. I will agree that apart from a few shouty people on forums, "People want instant graphic-heavy information, they are not bothered about reading large swathes of text.".

    This might be partly driven by the ease of delivering photo-heavy content now. Chatting to people who remember old production methods, and having written for mags sine the 1990s, you simply couldn't produce an article in the format we have now. Colour was rare and expensive and high quality instructional photos were out of the range of all but the most talented photographers. Even than reproduction wasn't that easy. My feeling is that if the technology we have now had been available in the 1970s, mags from them would look very different.

  5. It's probably a chicken/egg situation. In general people just want things faster and the attention span is a lot less. Couple that with the ability to have more graphics and less text means people don't require the later. Why describe something when you can see what it is?

  6. Hi Chris.

    I find watching someone actually do something in a video really helpful. Whether it is ballasting some track, fitting a new waste to the bathroom basin or any other practical task video is king. Even beats watching the real thing because you can't rewind that and view it again.

    Phil is right about improvements in technology. You can now use a smart phone or inexpensive camera to capture HD or 4k video and add a commentary in free editing applications. So why would one want to read 2000 words when a few minutes of video will be of more use.

  7. An electronic version of 009 News is available for overseas members when the Society ended up subsidising the postage on overseas paper copies when Royal Mail charges went silly. Given the low numbers involved this is currently a manual process undertaken by Membership.

    We will be extending this to UK members in due course once the new website is ready and we have a suitable delivery mechanism in place.