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Astronaut – YouTube videos with almost zero previous views (astronaut.io)
429 points by KeatonDunsford on Jan 16, 2017 | hide | past | favorite | 136 comments

This is Andrew Wong (@wongavision), one of the creators of astronaut. I'm amazed this has appeared on HN on it's own, thanks KeatonDunsford! Reading these comments is heartwarming, as it appears like many of you are experiencing and feeling what James Thompson (@astrojams1) and I set out to make. The idea was to create a glimpse into the unedited world. The videos are current and to some extent unbiased and of the world. The lack of 'control' is by design -- sometimes you have to just sit and watch to really see whats out there.

As an embarassed engineer (i wasn't ready to launch! :D): apologies for this not working on mobile! i'm controlling a few youtube players to create this 'no spinner' experience for the videos, but haven't gotten it to work on mobile. I'm still figuring out what is the best way to do preserve the fluid feeling between videos on mobile browsers -- any suggestions are welcome!

I think one of you discovered this on your own: [spacebar] goes into 'theater' mode. I threw that in and started tearing up while watching. I hope you can experience the same. For those wondering, yes the feed is syncronized across everyone so you should be all seeing the same videos at the same time. The videos also are constantly updated, so when it's christmas time, you should start to see family dinners :)

I love all the feedback so far and the anecdotes, keep them coming!

I am increasingly at odds with the concept of curation. Youtube, Netflix, Google News, Facebook and many other web portals increasingly try to serve what "suits me" using sophisticated algorithms, but what if I don't want that? Every traveller knows that the best trips are those that you didn't really plan that much, which end up being an adventure. If you are driven by curiosity the unexpected is a blessing. For this reason I enjoy Astronaut and other projects such as GeoGuessr (https://www.geoguessr.com/) because they are a reaction to an overly curated, safe-space, no-surpises web experience.

I've been thinking of this problem ever since Google started serving up different search results for each person (which was a whole lot of years ago).

Sure in the beginning it adapts (according to some unknown algorithm) to what you feed it (in best case scenario who you are). I would however suggest that most people here are like me in that they every day try to learn and become less of an idiot, and thus incrementally grow as a person. I'm not the same person I was 10 years ago, and if I can't control how services see me (through my 10 year old history of my accounts), it will try to reinforce the me from 10 years ago, instead of showing me incrementally different results for the me I want to be tomorrow.

I'm sorry if this rant is confusing, I'm not sure how to coherently convey what I mean, but I'll try a TLDR;

If services only show you results/content based on how you were before, and force you onto a straight path (or rather, not even moving forward), isn't that what gets people stuck in echo chambers with only reinforcing information, never challenged, never growing?

> ever since Google started serving up different search results

True, it was the same process for me, that's when I started looking for ways to avoid that, such as clearing cookies at every session or using incognito tabs; I was (unfortunately) working in the SEO space at the time and having personalised results was completely unacceptable.

I find your comment not confusing and not a rant, your "10-years-ago-me" analogy explains very well what I meant with the "unplanned trip" analogy in my previous comment, except it's much clearer because not everyone is a traveller while, I guess, everyone is subject to the process of growing up and/or learning.

Totally agree. I'm trying to do something discovery oriented with https://www.findlectures.com - ideally to help find videos on topics you didn't know existed

PSA: Watch in an private/incognito tab/window. If you are currently logged into your google account, this WILL pollute your watched history: https://www.youtube.com/feed/history

That said, I really do like the concept. It's literal reality TV. Very cool.

I find myself doing this on Youtube when I watch certain videos, to avoid having similar videos as recommendations.

I suppose the feature was supposed to help one discover videos they could be interested in, but I now actively avoid watching a number of them with a logged-in session.

(creator here) thanks for the heads up! i had disabled my youtube history completely and didn't notice this...

Sounds like a feature. Would polluting my history help prevent YouTube from recommending me the same stuff over and over?

Does it matter they appear in your history?

Kind of. It matters for me because it will ruin my video recommendation list.

You can delete those from your history, somewhere in profile settings.

Oddly the videos don't end up there for me. Which is somewhat disappointing because I would like to share some of them with others.

This tool needs a "link to video" or "share video" button.

Ya I wish it would leave a trail on the side of the videos you've gone through.

I had to disable uorigin adblock and use incognito.

Ah, you're right. Privacy Badger (which I love for exactly this reason) was breaking it.

The youtube embed normally has all of that by default. They explicitly prohibit the user from accessing any of those.

Check out youtube history :D


If you like this, you might like these other two pages which exist -- like this page -- to demonstrate the breadth of human experience:

https://paperplanes.world/ http://radio.garden/

I've never seen/used the raido one before but I did see/use paperplanes.

While I enjoyed paper planes, it was quite brief. I played with it for 15-20m max before I stopped. I've been watching this (on another monitor) for probably half an hour. Way more engaging and deep. Love this.

Paper Planes told me "This experience requires WebGL and a modern browser." I have a MacBook Air, fully updated, with Google Chrome. It redirects me to the Google Chrome download site. Any clue what I'm doing wrong?

Everyone keeps saying they saw such beautiful things

I just got stuck watching a guy eat an entire jar of mayonnaise without stopping

[EDIT] Just realized that the websockets that fuel the video transitions are suffering the same 503s as the other assets — so the feed 503'd, and I got stuck on an unending, non-changing video of a guy looking into the camera as he ate so, so much mayonnaise.

As someone who regularly searches IMG_0123 to see things like "mayonnaise man" before astronaut.io existed: you must share the link to the video. There's no excuse for the lack of a link.

Also, this service does not work with iOS, which is a shame.

You can't link, since whoever made this site disabled any and all controls on the videos. Even the youtube button in the corner is blocked off.

This is one of the most evil implementations of video embedding i've ever seen.

Yes it's blocked by CSS: #player { pointer-events: none;} and it's against the YouTube TOS:

"G. if you use the YouTube Player on your website may not modify, build upon or block any portion or functionality of the YouTube Player including but not limited to links back to the Website;"


Thanks for pointing that out, i raised the issue on their repository: https://github.com/wonga00/astronaut/issues/5

If you're logged in then you can go to https://www.youtube.com/feed/history and find it.

Well, isn't it the whole point, though? :)

What exactly is the point in your opinion? I have no idea which exact point you're referring to, and the point as i understood it is 100% undermined by the implementation.

the videos are linkable back to youtube via the logo now :D

i think the main side effect is if you accidentally click the video, it stops, which ruins the illusion of a continuous live stream (like television), but that's the tradeoff at the moment i guess ever since the old embed api was deprecated.

Cheers for the quick fix, and the explanation. I'm happy to know it was only an aesthetic misstep.

Agreed, "mayonnaise man" sounds like an internet legend in the making. To claim it is not beautiful without a link, but give such a fascinating description...

I got the mayonnaise guy as well!

Link! This is useless without a link!

whole site's throwing 502's intermittently, here's a list of video id's of what sorta content it shows (for people interested but can't use it).

q2XBK_PZgWY RQjdcyRwwP8 P9bcm3uT0NY I4WgpPg9EcA UOZVb91HwrQ rlZKRgtI3bs ovAjtEWUEGc BzVuPNSzP1E Y1fqjCxkdI8 R3HILwnTfTc 0gip2UCMc5o 6G8rpU3jZCw rNZeQ1UXP7Y DHa7hX-43a4 LpeRgRl8HG4 4Fs9rj9uLyk NnWE6QMczfQ Lqbya6dBfDA QRrAGrxDYCE DjaZ2LKwhfI

This is a really beautiful piece of art. I just wanted to say well done. It's a very grounding experience watching it for a few minutes

If you could click through to the source video then that would be great.

(creator here) thank you! yeah i think i masked the youtube logo during my failed attempts to get this to work on mobile. i'll see if i can bring it back.

About 50% of the videos were by Chinese people. Interesting to think how Asian a random sampling of the earth's population would be. North America is only 7.6% of the global population but overwhelmingly dominate in popular media.

Great site.

Not just popular media. The internet in general seems to assume being 'American' is the default and online communities seem to have a lot more American users than those from other regions (even compared to other places that also speak English).

If you ever want proof... well, go through your YouTube subscriptions and ask yourself how many of the channels are by people from the US. For me the number is about 50-60%.

OK, now go through your Baidu Video subscription list and tell me how many are American: http://video.baidu.com/

Oh? You don't have any Baidu video subscriptions?

Are you sure it's the "internet" assuming that you're an American? Or is it just that you hang out on the internet where Americans tend to hang out?

That's probably got more to do with you hanging out at "American places" due to a language barrier. Many countries that don't speak English have online platforms with vast communities of their own. There are massive social and video platforms in Asia/Europe you probably never heard of.

Russian/European version of Facebook is called "VKonakte". Chinese version of YouTube is called "YouKu", Chinese Facebook is called "Weibo". In those places you will barely find any American users or people that speak a lot of English.

It's not a random sampling of Earth's population. It's a random sampling of the "video uploader" population.

It's a random sampling of the "YouTube video uploader" population.

What makes you think so? You just hang out where the rest of the Americans are too :)

"This video has been removed by the user."

Yeah, sadly; this could have gone viral. The las time I checked there were about 200 views and a 22 to none like/dislike ratio. Although it is probably better this way.

Video removed by user... What was it?

Ha! I got the same one and just posted the same comment.

I absolutely died! It was so funny.

Its honestly hard to be mad at the thing, I was laughing for a good minute. I want more youtube like this.

Things like this make me want to travel more. There is _so much_ out there to see and experience, so many people to meet and learn from, each with their own story and world entirely oblivious to yours.

This is my favourite that I stumbled upon: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XBaN0NkyLj8

"Thank you, and goodbye! click"

Hahaha. Very good.

that was amazing

This, really scared the crap out of me: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uqaGFV-s3Hs ? [Edit] Maybe I'm wrong and I hope I'm wrong.

That's a strange conclusion. What makes you think it is anything of that sort? The word on the handwritten sign beneath the date is "soon." Maybe they're recording their "before" body shape before they start a diet or physical regimen.

It's written in Cyrillic and the word скоро... It just says right now or today is and the date. Most likely some kind after before thing..

It's a stereotype. The account name is "vika kusheva" which is a woman's name.

I don't get how that's any indication of this being a bride for sale. I didn't sense any sarcasm in parent's tone, either.

I don't think it's evidence of human traffic because they used their own name.

I've seen another one just like it but with a different girl... it seems a bit strange... (with the sheet of paper in-between her feet and everything).

I saw a guy with the ISIS flag making a speech... I'm probably on some list now.

So, how do I press "go" that's mentioned in text in the overlay?

Same here. I'm now getting 502 Bad Gateway but maybe Disconnect or uBlock were blocking something.

Had the same issue, Just refreshed a couple of times and it appeared. I guess the site is overloaded

I think one of my extensions was blocking it, try in an incognito window.

I had to disable PrivacyBadger for it to work

This feels like I'm inside a sci-fi movie set in some space colony. While being the main character, who is sick of being out there. Alone. I watch videos to remind me of Earth. Of people. Its a beautiful sense of sadness and longing.

Very cool. I wish you could easily go to the original video.

The video ID shows up in the developer console. Not ideal, but a method you can use.

Click the YouTube logo on hover.

Isn't showing on most videos.

I had the same thought. I'm also curious what that brownish circle toggle does.

I think if you select it you'll stay on the current video

Yes, I saw a few videos I liked that I suppose I'll never find again.

Check your youtube history.

Apparently YouTube's history page doesn't include videos watched while signed out. Thanks, though.

All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain.

Love it. Reminds me of the Vinepeek project (vpeeker) that was a Show HN a few years ago: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5120301


Vinepeek/vpeeker is still functioning. Wonder what happens on Jan 17th, the day of the Vine app's shutdown?

Did the same thing with XNXX's DB dump. Had my code scrape the new DB every 24h and present a tube-like interface for browsing. I removed everything with over 100 views and a few other filters.

Turns out you get a ton of revenge porn (with drunken tags and titles), badly tagged home videos and strangely tagged CP. Never got off localhost for obvious reasons and promptly deleted every bit of GreaseTV.

A puppy on it's back in a basket of flowers. A teenage asian girl singing the national anthem. A gymnast preparing to do a flatground set. Several Japanese men in a room full of pipes pointing around and asking questions. Two children sticking there tongues out at the camera and saying "Hi grandma!"

And then a cock fight... Like a real one.

This is quite addictive. Spend a good 15 minutes watching this before "waking up" from this collective dream. There were video-snippets that disturbed me(dog fighting, voyeurism of sleeping people in transportation[not sure if there is a special category for that]), but otherwise it was a pleasant experience.

Seems to be down.

There's a subreddit for a pretty similar concept: https://www.reddit.com/r/IMGXXXX/

Really interesting concept here socially. I'm not sure this kind of discovery mechanism really exists with services like YouTube. Likely there are randomizers, but this is really scraping from the "every day" user, which is so different from what most of us are used to seeing on YouTube.

Not so much the "every day" user, but more specifically those people not savvy enough to title their videos or set them to private. I'll guess that 1/3 of these videos the author didn't even know they were public. The other 1/3 doesn't really care if they are or not, and the final 1/3 got as far as uploading the video from their mobile device and didn't even know it made it online for all of us to see.

I bet if you did an analysis of users leaving the default titles on their videos, it would be the same group of people that leave the default name on their home routers. Technology simply doesn't fuel these people, it is just a vessel they hop on and hop off when they want to accomplish something. We, on the other hand, live in it every day. This astronaut site is very interesting in that it shows you what a disparity there is between the savvy and the non.

Ah, you've put it in a much better light. "Every day" is clearly not the right description here. I think an interesting look anyway.

I got this one (illegal cock fighting, maybe not illegal in the country it was filmed in).. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JZIS_5SyxSg

That is Thailand. It is theoretically illegal but still popular. The birds usually don't die. Here's more: http://www.bangkokpost.com/learning/learning-news/751760/coc...

I was recently in Lao and saw village boys around ten years old training these birds to fight. In context it looked totally normal and reasonable.

This is an amazing idea, and beautifully executed. Many of these videos are wonderful to witness.

My only wish was that there was a skip button. Some of the videos were quite loud and/or in a few cases, not interesting (at all).

I'm stuck in a strange loop: videos change, but the music doesn't. I think it's Debussy, the effect is very strange (and nice too). Bug or not? :)

Oh, and the small button below has disappeared.

It is indeed Debussy, "Clair de Lune" from this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CvFH_6DNRCY although embedded on astronaut.io as http://astronaut.io/audio/debussy.mp4 ...

Cool! I made (almost the exact same) thing as a twitter bot awhile ago: https://twitter.com/sub500

How are people finding the video ids? Even the developer console doesn't seem to show any URLs with parameters that lead to the videos

If you're logged in, the videos are saved to your YT history (https://www.youtube.com/feed/history)

Source code is available at https://github.com/wonga00/astronaut


Would make an awesome background for chromecast.

Clicked a previous post about this without a subtitle and thought I was going to see something space related. Lol.

An idea: trending low view videos from uploaders with not many subscribers or not many total channel views.

This is... beautiful. Utterly beautiful. I don't know how and I don't know why, but it just is.

Just randomly stumbled upon this and almost teared up a bit. Absolutely beautiful, and brilliant.

I feel like this would be good stimulation for artists or anyone trying to be creative.

Hypnotic experience. Great concept! Congrats @wongavision and @astrojams1

Yes, I really do not like that this polluted my google watched history.

Why? You actually watched whatever you watched with it. Why wouldn't it be in your watched history?

I guess you could say that "YouTube is the final frontier"

Could you enable https?

This is an amazing concept, so raw. I love it

wow ... that's surprisingly cool - the videos are not as degenerated as I would have expected

I just saw a splash screen, no videos.

Then 502 bad gateway.


spacebar changes to a soundtrack

The link is not working for me.

Amazing, so many moments.

Simple. Brilliant.

Oddly addictive.

This is art.

Nice idea, but the domain name - not a fan, just saying. I'd better reserved astronaut.io for something actually related to being an astronaut.

So amazon.com should be related to the Amazon rainforest? Domain names haven't worked like that since... ever.

My opinion is my opinion.

Good site, but don't you think it's a tad sleazy to use these people's videos without at least letting us click-through to their YouTube channel? I mean it's the absolute least you could do to give them due credit.

> don't you think it's a tad sleazy to use these people's videos without at least letting us click-through to their YouTube channel?

There is no way to answer this question, which means it's intended to blame. This site is clearly under development and I think it's better to encourage rather than discourage. Unless that's your bag, of course.

yup the logo is supposed to be clickable but i think i put up a mask while trying to get the new embed api stuff to work, i'll have to check what that was about.

Well for next time, maybe you could do this thing called "testing" or "QA" before you put a product out there for hundreds of people to use.

EDIT: sorry I know it's negative, but while you're posting stuff about "oh I'm tearing up", what I'm seeing is some guy who wrote a website that steals people's videos without attribution. I realize you didn't "intend" it to do that, but that's what it's doing, and I don't have the psychic powers to know what you "intended" to do with the site.

Oh and he isn't stealing... this would count as a view for them on YouTube and they get the revenue not him... if anything he is driving tonnes of views to them all at once.

Those who rip the video and claim to be the creator on fbook is where you should aim your anger.

Short view times (e.g. opening a video, watching X seconds of it, thinking its going to be boring, and switching away from it) actually count as a negative in terms of youtube's internal rankings

(though this is just what I remember from a pewdiepie video on the topic, I may or may not be remembering correctly)

Do you think people posting videos without taking time to edit the video's filenames are concerned with youtube rankings?

Try not assuming the worst in people and instead ask a question instead of being a Dick by default and you'll likely live with less stress.

In my opinion, not having a way to get to the videos and channels of the video creators might even be the more sensible choice, since with a site such as this, people can inadvertedly have a video become viral for possibly embarassing reasons and get their accounts bombarded, become the bad kind of internet famous (meme status) etc.

Just look at one of the comments up top wanting to get a link to a guy eating a jar of mayo...

with a quick pointer from Mithaldu, the videos are now back to being linkable via the logo. see my response to him regarding some thoughts on this.

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