Jon Evans


Jon Evans is the CTO of the engineering consultancy HappyFunCorp; the award-winning author of six tales, one graphic fiction, and a record of wander writing; and TechCrunch’s weekend columnist since 2010.

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I’m sure you’ve known it too. Some kind of discussion — perhaps a dispute, perhaps precisely a affectionate exchange of sentiments — grows online. Parties regurgitate what they know, or what they think they know. A few admirable souls even include links to generators. Those parties tend to be more correct —

— unless their citation is a link to a video longer than got a couple of instants … in which case they are, almost invariably, quite wrong, and often far more wrong than even the wrongest of the persons who quoth nothing at all.

There’s no intrinsic reason for this. Video is as good a medium as any for supporting a stance. Longer videos should if something support better textile supporting. So why are such online cites ever, approximately without exception, made of ridiculously fragile clay?

Please note that I’m referring to discussions which involve some objective truth. De gustibus non est disputandum and all that, and videos are often one of the best ways to support subjective opinion. (” Honest Trailers” are likely to be my favorite YouTube series ever .) And a sixty-second clip to illustrate a particular concrete extent? Often readily worth a thousand words.

But when you’re linked to something ten minutes longer or more, especially with an exhortation to” watch the whole thing !”, you already know you’re entering the ground of illogic and unreason.

Is this because videos are a ” hot ” medium, connected straight( er) to our limbic organization, and therefore outstandingly well suited to covering up half-truths and plausible disagreements? Are parties instinctively more lowered to give the benefit of any incredulity to an impassioned or self-confident being or singer, equated the benefit of the doubt, compared to the written word?

Or is this a correlation-not-causation thing? Is someone who was willing to sit through a long video, nearly by definition, someone who’s already internalized its assertions rather than study critically about them? And/ or, someone who indulgences datum absorption via long videos because they have a relatively low level of written proficiency, and therefore have restriction critical thinking knowledge full stop?

Or do people who link to long videos know that virtually no one has enough time and interest to actually wade their method through them? Are they just utilizing their “citation” as a bad-faith smokescreen to impersonate that they’re serious thinkers who have done their research? That strikes me as exceedingly conceivable, a lot of the time. Some of the watch-this-half-hour-video parties seem to be operating in good faith, though, precisely … misguided.

It’s not an inherent law of the universe that if you were supposed to cite a 30 -minute video, it means you don’t actually have any cogent disagreements. But it does seem to be a law of the Internet. Perhaps that’s for the best, though; it represents when the deepfakes arrive en masse, we — or, at least, the crucial philosophers among us — will be questionable once. Let’s hope automated agnosticism of videos spreads before then.

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