A New Adventure…

This has been an exciting one. Monday saw me visit Go Ape for a fun day out with a friend, and Wednesday saw me go to London to see a live recording of The Russell Howard Hour (more on that soon). It was also on Wednesday that I received another bit of good news.

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, then you’d know that I went to Summer in the City last month – a UK convention dedicated to YouTube and online video. It was there that I met the team from the YouTube magazine TenEighty, and naturally, I asked about writing for them.

A few weeks later and after a fun application process, an email landed in my inbox saying that I can join the team, and I was over the moon.

I already have two articles up on the website so far, including one on disabled YouTubers having their videos demonetised, and asdfmovie creator TomSka announcing the end of his vlog series, Last Week. I look forward to writing even more articles for TenEighty in the future.


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A Thousand Words: Summer in the City 2017

At long last, I’ve finally attended a SitC (or Summer in the City) in full. 2015 saw me volunteer for a charity on the Creator Day, and I was only able to attend the Sunday last year. Now, I’ve been there for all three days and it’s been a blast from start to finish.

The first photo in this series which wasn’t taken by me. Thanks Teddy Ebbesen for the snap!

I should start by saying just how wonderful the YouTube community is when it’s squeezed into the ExCel in London, or indeed, when you spot a fellow viewer on a train. There’s no ice to break at this conference, and I’ve made so many friends because of that. Thank you to you all.

The other great thing is the amount of creators I was able to meet and panels I was able to attend. This was also my first year entering the Meet and Greet ballot, and because of that I was able to meet PetesJams, Emma Blackery and JaackMaate.

I met other creators outside of these M&Gs too, of course, who were just as nice. As for the panels, discussions on issues such  as disability and producing a sketch made me want to pick up the camera and film another video as soon as I got home.

I’m reluctant to talk about the convention too much, purely because I’ll be uploading a detailed, bumper vlog about the weekend to my YouTube channel soon. Look forward to that!

Review: ‘All That She Can See’ by Carrie Hope Fletcher

Note: This review contains spoilers.

As a devout fan of Disney, music and the theatre, it’s no surprise that YouTuber and actress Carrie Hope Fletcher’s genre of choice is magic realism. After the phenomenal success of her previous novel, On the Other Side, Fletcher writes with increased confidence and enthusiasm in her second work of fiction, All That She Can See. Set in Plymouth, the plot focusses on the loveable Cherry Redgrave and a very special gift she possesses…

'All That She Can See' book

In their review of the book, the Mail on Sunday said: “Think Chocolat with a heaped tablespoon of Bake Off “, and it’s a fair comparison to make. Add elements of Nanny McPheeThe Golden Compass and Divergent to the mix (pun not intended) and you start to get a better idea of the imaginative story at the heart of this novel. There’s something for everyone.

As mentioned previously, All That She Can See centres on a tight-knit community in Plymouth and a positive tone is set (all of the character’s eagerness to agree with one another at first was something which I was a bit sceptical of to start with), that is, before the main source of conflict is introduced – Mr Chase Masters.

Naturally, any reader would be quick to assume that Cherry and Chase would go on to develop a romantic relationship, as with most books in this genre. Whilst that is the case, the important thing is that a valid reason is given, and it is not simply a cliché. What makes it works is that the bond taps into the bigger picture Fletcher was trying to paint with the novel. Underneath the metaphors for human feelings, there were a few comments about happiness and emotions which Carrie was trying to make. Consider it a fictional extension of sorts to All I Know Now, as it were.

However, it isn’t long before the bubbly Nanny McPhee style of the story fades away into darker territory akin to that of Divergent. Unlike On the Other Side, there were some shocking, haunting scenes in this book, which only shows development on Carrie’s part as a Sunday Times bestselling author.

It pays off, too, being one of those books which can invoke specific images in one’s head when reading (sadly a select few can do that for me these days). It was halfway through the book, when Cherry’s dilemma got worse, that I truly got engrossed in the story. Even now, I remember certain parts of the book having me shout out loud in shock. At some points in the novel, I was so sure of what was going to happen, but Fletcher continued to surprise and intrigue with exciting twists and turns. What’s even better is that it ends in a way which suggests there’s more to come, and a trilogy of books from Carrie Hope Fletcher would be a very exciting thing indeed.

Disclaimer: A huge thank you to the wonderful team at Little Brown for sending me an advance readers’ copy of All That She Can See! Whilst I did receive this for free, all opinions stated in the above review are honest and my own.

Musical Discovery: ‘Nothing Without You’ by Emma Blackery

Even before YouTuber and singer-songwriter Emma Blackery released her first track from her upcoming EP, Magnetised, fans were offered cryptic hints about the record’s story. ‘Mending’ was the one word the 25-year-old used to describe the collection of songs, and is an accurate term upon hearing the first single, Nothing Without You – which came out at midnight on Tuesday.

Aside from the line ‘I would be nothing without you‘ obviously alluding to Blackery’s gratitude at an ex-boyfriend for everything he has helped her achieve, lyrics such as ‘you shape me into who I wanted to be/and you made me take a look at myself and see‘ also touch upon this theme. In a comment on the music video on YouTube, Emma explained that this was a happy song – which provided some clarity after hearing negative lines like ‘I got shackles round my feet/They’re tying me to this place‘ in the track. Yet as a whole, the positive message becomes apparent after multiple listens (it’s that catchy) but it’s not just the lyrics which give off this vibe.

From the lively piano chords to the expressive drum rhythm throughout, the track’s instrumentals certainly continue this upbeat tone, but it’s Blackery’s refreshed vocals which really heighten these emotions. Throughout the nearly four-minute long song, listeners can be surprised with the occasional, powerful high notes (particularly in the chorus) from Emma, displaying increased passion and confidence both in terms of the subject matter and her singing in general.

With Nothing Without You being the first song on the six-track EP, it’s a release which has not only teased Blackery’s direction as an artist, but offered a first glimpse into the narrative of the record. It’s enough to justify the word ‘mending’ whilst keeping us intrigued in finding out how ‘the era of Magnetised unfolds.

Nothing Without You is available now on iTunes and Spotify. The EP, Magnetised, is out on May 26.

YouTube’s ToS changes: User input is something the social media industry is lacking | The Friday Article

Trends on today’s social media platforms are determined by the websites themselves. Users are forced to accept these changes or go elsewhere for the service. The result has led to Instagram changing the algorithm on its timeline, and introducing Instagram Stories and a zoom function. Gone are the days when the demands of the users were met. It needs to change. Websites and their users must come together to discuss changes which both parties want, for it is an interdependent relationship between the user and the platform as a whole.

YouTube's new policies on 'advertiser-friendly' content is the latest change to be made without consulting users or creators on the platform. Photo: Effie Yang on Flickr. Licensed under Creative Commons - https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/legalcode.
YouTube’s new policies on ‘advertiser-friendly’ content is the latest change to be made without consulting users or creators on the platform. Photo: Effie Yang on Flickr. Licensed under Creative Commons – https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/legalcode.

Twitter is the website which has come the closest to gathering audience feedback, be it in the form of Twitter survey advertisements, for example. Yet, these surveys are about companies which work with Twitter. Why can’t they introduce surveys to assess users’ reactions to new changes?

As for Facebook, they have always remained transparent on any new change to their platform – particularly in terms of privacy, of course. However, we all remember when they tried to introduce profile timelines for the first time, right? A fair amount of people didn’t want to make the change, yet it happened to everyone eventually. Again, users of a platform must go along with social media updates. The companies set the trends, and what’s funny is that we often use the social media platform itself to complain about it. Of course, these websites will see the discontent in a trending hashtag (#YouTubeisOverParty doesn’t sound particularly positive, after all), but they never really address it. Sadly, the changes still go ahead, as all we have are our online soapboxes, and they can do whatever they want with their own website – as many online creators have mentioned when it comes to the latest drama with YouTube’s new Terms of Service.

With any change on YouTube, content creators on the site are forced to make videos as a way in which to kick up as much of a fuss as possible. Small YouTube channels often lose out the most, as – unlike big YouTubers – they don’t have a network or a contact at YouTube to whom escalate their concerns.

The idea of a YouTube channel dedicated to being the middle man between the site and video makers is a solution I’ve often thought about. Whilst YouTubers big or small making videos on the subject is great for showing the collective frustration at the news, a channel dedicated to conveying the general consensus to YouTube would be more meaningful to those at the company. It’d be a way for communication to improve between the users and the platform.

Then, that should hopefully bring this trend to a close, and encourage other sites like Instagram and Twitter to find a way in which users of their website can give clear feedback on upcoming and proposed changes.

Social media apps and websites are trying to be the leading platform in their sector, and are doing this by copying features from rivals (Facebook borrows from Twitter and vice versa, and Instagram Stories has a lot of similarities to Snapchat, of course). However, they are prioritising the business goal of being at the top of the industry over listening to the users. If apps and platforms made the changes people wanted after communicating with them directly, then the industry would be more competitive and offer unique and exciting apps – they wouldn’t have to rely on the unnecessary copying which is happening at the moment.

It’s time for a ‘middle man’ on these platforms. We can no longer rely on automated support or feedback emails to vent our frustration at new changes. Now is the time for a proper conversation between users and the platform itself.

Liam

Thoughts on Summer in the City 2016

As a hectic schedule combined with really bad writer’s block, my YouTube channel died a slow death a few months ago. Now, after an amazing day at the London-based YouTube convention, Summer in the City on Sunday, my passion for video making has returned.

I had the day off work, and I remembered just how great the convention was last year, so on Saturday I bought tickets to SitC. Also, since my good friend from university, Brandon, was going too, we decided to meet-up and look around together.

Without wanting to repeat what I’ve said in my YouTube video above, I went to two panels – ‘quirky is the new mainstream’ and ‘comedy online’ before looking around the stalls, watching some main stage shows and performances, and meeting so many YouTubers I admire.

Thomas ‘TomSka’ Ridgewell

The atmosphere was electric and it certainly rubbed off on me, as I was buzzing by the end of the day and wanted to make more videos on my channel. I’ve talked in the past about finding a new interest or passion to talk about online, and SitC helped me find it. Thanks to all the creators I met, the organisers and volunteers for all coming together to make a great event.

So what will I be making videos about in the future? That’s to be revealed, but make sure you’re subscribed to my channel so you know when a new video goes up.

Grace and Amelia, also known as ‘The Mandeville Sisters’ on YouTube.

Also, on Wednesdays, I’ve decided that I should include more poetry on my blog. If this little corner on the Internet is meant to be my online portfolio, then it’s about time I returned to writing poems – something I haven’t done in such a long time.


But anyway, when it comes to SitC, it has been phenomenal. From the panels, to the stalls, to the fellow creators, inspiration and kindness was everywhere and it was a great experience.

Have you been to Summer in the City before? Did you go this year? What did you think? Comment below!

Liam

Whatever happened to my YouTube channel?

There was this one time when I had a YouTube channel. It started with a few travel vlogs before my experiences with video journalism during my degree inspired me to do topical videos. However, it’s been around two months since I last uploaded something to my YouTube channel, and I should probably explain why.

I can’t remember who said it, but I heard someone say a while back that YouTube is now split into ‘let’s players’ and vloggers. For the short amount of time that I uploaded videos, I guess I was the latter, and vlogging has a lot of problems if that’s the route you wish to go down.

First of all, you see countless ‘established’ YouTubers telling you the quality of your videos does not matter, and that it’s about the content. However, when I cannot afford the technology, do not own a proper camera and so have to use my phone or laptop, then it can still know my confidence.

Then there’s the fact that vlogging requires interesting content and a regular schedule – two things I was unable to keep up with whilst studying for a journalism degree. I struggled for the first few months, ideas felt forced and eventually the enthusiasm went.

I’ll admit it, and say that my view of YouTube wasn’t healthy whe I first started. I was more keen on monetising my videos rather than doing it for fun and producing the content I wanted – and I hated that.

The content I loved producing was my ‘ThinkerVlogs’, as travelling has always been something which I’ve enjoyed. But, since I don’t have time to travel around much, even that idea doesn’t quite work. I was running out of ideas and practical solutions, and so I gave up.

Maybe one day I’ll travel some more and will be able to return to vlogging. For now, I’ll be ok a break and I felt like it warranted an explanation.

Should I return to vlogging? Do you have any tips? Are you a vlogger yourself? Comment below!

Liam