I've done an experiment on the new year and created a video on a new account trying to catch people's attention (relevant to the new year, funny, with something unusual). I've done i on Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube. On TikTok it gained over half a million views, with 0 views on YouTube and Instagram.
Another way to frame this is around the Gini Coefficient of these platform. TikTok has a much lower inequality measure, which increases the incentives to produce content and hence the quality of content.
It is almost as if these platforms need a few different algorithm setups, the ones that are for more long term quality content, indie/business and just one that is raw where fresh content can be seen. They try this with "trending" type systems but due to market size they are usually heavily manipulated.
Right now featured platforms like TikTok are similar to like Twitter in that only the latest stuff matters. On Youtube it is more about quality, long term content for many creators. It is about right now but also you'll find amazing videos on history, art, gaming, development, markets, information and more. Youtube, Vimeo and others or sites that have been available for a while, are more about all types of creators so the real-time hype of new content isn't as successful for creatives, they start building more niche or long term bases that requires more work to produce. To compete the levels of production go up and up.
Shorter term real-time fresh platforms like TikTok are like the "new" algorithms on reddit/HN or the Twitter style freshness.
Longer term real-time fresh AND detailed deeper content videos are more like what you find on when looking for information on a search engine like Google or "popular" algorithms and more refined, more competitive and owned by larger players, but also more about information and answers.
I would love to see advocates for openness in algorithms, as we have advocates for open source software. We have no idea what filters are applied by tiktok, youtube, etc. If I knew what they were, would I agree with them?
Questions that arise for me, are:
* What are the value judgements behind the algorithmic recommendations?
* Is it ok for corporations to entrain their users with specific content, if that it is not based on a neutral algorithm?
* There is surely interest on the part of corporations to promote or constrain certain ideas, that do not suit them. These would play out in the political, economic, legal domains. If the algorithm does not let you know, this would be a lie by omission, and therefore immoral IMO.
I don't think I have seen any discussion on this, albeit I think it is a hugely important issue.
As much as I dislike TikTok for being idiotic, that's actually an aspect to sort of like about it.
Of course it's still algorithmic spoon-feeding, but it seems they're inching closer to saner discovery tools. One can hope...
One excellent feature of the algorithm is how it ties user feedback to the type of content shown and not to the creator of the content, thus giving better recommendations.
They may surface other stuff better than other platforms, but they definitely have the same "rich gets richer" stuff in the default landing page too.
There were a few writing mediocre at best content making up to $1,500 a day/post at some point, just because they managed to gain a lot of followers initially, while everyone else had to deal with writing dozens of posts and making only a few dollars a month, if that.
Social platforms should take this "inequality" issue a lot more seriously. It's in their long-term benefit to have thousands, millions of people who "make it big" on their platform, not just a handful that make it "really big."
And they are making damn sure that it is worth watching.
When I think of this "I believe this thing is fucking worth watching" line I think of the way things used to be.
I like the "scenius" term for this from Brian Eno: https://youtu.be/0qATeJcL1XQ (54:15 in that talk)
Reels are kinda misplaced. They are so short but require so much navigation. Why not just post a short video. Ig live videos are more important and need the first class treatment (a seperate search, a ig live discovery page)
> All the points I wanted to cover seem hyperlinked in a sprawling loose tangle. This could easily have been several standalone posts. I've been stuck on how to structure it.
> This piece is long, but if you get bored in any one section, you can just scroll on the next one; they're separated by horizontal rules for easy visual scanning. You can also read them out of order. There are lots of cross-references, though, so if you skip some of the segments, others may not make complete sense. However, it’s ultimately not a big deal.
I've long wondered how many essays don't get published because the author struggles to generate a "through line." Sometimes organizing ideas is harder than coming up with them. This is certainly a problem I struggle with.
I've been working on software that encourages you to publish ambitious online media even if it's a bit disjointed. Currently, only me and my friends and family are using it because it is very rough around the edges, but it is good enough that I personally use it every single day.
If this sounds interesting to any HN comment readers I'd love to give you a beta code or a live demo to hear your thoughts. Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
This is pretty interesting as it is a problem I struggle with too.
Your landing page there reminds me of something else I’m a fan of, e.g. Building a Second Brain through notes and web clips as discussed here: https://tanners.blog/diy-second-brain/
But these are more focused solely on the background processes of organizing information.
I’m curious about how your system would encourage publishing, “even if it’s a bit disjointed”, as that seems kind of the logical next step. (And definitely a challenge for me too!)
The particular way I'm attempting to encourage publishing is an editor that lets you lay out your stuff as a directed graph instead of as a linked list. The reader navigates the graph by clicking on hyperlinks that take them in tangential directions that may or may not converge with the main thread.
The inspiration for this includes those really good conversations you have with your friends where you go completely off topic but in an interesting way, and also the experience of going down a wikipedia or tvtropes rabbit hole that consumes hours of your time.
It's a tough problem because your eyes and ears are only able to process information serially, but concept-space is a complex multi-dimensional snaggle. How do we bridge that gap? The conventional answer is "good writing" but that's really tough to do. Eugene Wei didn't feel up to the task with the ideas in the OP, for example. I'm hoping that by giving people more room to play with how they structure their thoughts and ideas "writing skill" will be less of a constraint on human communication. I definitely don't think I've hit an optimal solution yet but it is a very fun problem to work on and talk about!
Like hobby TikTok is genuinely just a bunch of nerds being genuinely excited to show you something they're passionate about or something they made. It's so god damn refreshing. Like the early days of Tumblr.
> By network effects of creativity, I mean that every additional user on TikTok makes every other user more creative.
That is false.
TikTok isn't a creativity amplification network, it's a mimic network. The extreme majority of humans are mimics, they essentially never create or do anything creative or original. They are incapable of that (cue the outrage at such a statement, even though it's true). They play follow the leader across a lifetime. TikTok, like most social networks, represents that accurately. What TikTok does not represent, is a burst of individual creativity that is widespread.
It's a creativity distribution channel. The 0.01% that are originators distribute creativity to the drone mimics and they copy and share it.
That's exactly what the dance copying represents for example. There is no great creativity explosion going on there, quite the opposite. As with YouTube or any other distribution system, an exceptionally tiny percentage of people are originators, actually creative, the rest mimic and pander and try to scam their way to some views by copying or ripping off originators (you see this repeating trend represented in everything, eg content farms).
Replication with some source of variation (such as even just “people aren't perfect mimics”, but “some people apply some minor modicum of creativity” enhances this) plus selective pressure (such as interesting novelty getting rewarded) is sufficient for it to function as as Darwinian creativity amplification system by way of being principally a mimic network.
TikTok being a "mimic network" does not show it's not creative.
Creativity is primarily a product of creation, rather than one of originality and TikTok is, in fact, inspiring to create.
Something can be authored that was unintentionally interesting, but amplified by the creative recognition of some weird facet. For example cat videos - the cat isn’t trying to get likes! Edit: or a security camera video where there is zero intent to create, and the art is in the recognition of the clip by everybody.
edit: to the repeat downvoters instantly hitting every one of my comments, those that don't like the fact that I'm pointing out that humans are 99%+ mimics, I'd encourage you to add to the discussion and dissent from what I'm saying. I'd enjoy reading that counter. Everyone isn't a butterfly just waiting to be unleashed into the next da Vinci, that's a fantasy. It makes perfect sense that the majority operate as distributors, mimics, for things that the 0.001% come up with that work effectively. It would be an enormous biological waste of energy for everyone to be so creative, the mimic and distribute what works approach is logical. Humans do it with everything, including learning / copying skills, behaviors, systems, almost anything you can name. For example, there are always a very small number of teachers (as a share of the population) distributing knowledge/skills, and most teachers are also mimics, but they're custodian mimics that use various bullhorns to (ideally) spread what works faster. Teachers are rarely originators, the knowledge is passed down a distribution chain by mimics that serve various functions along the way. That's how a lot of systems in human societies work (politics and religion all work that way).
I don't view the premise as bad at all, or negative. It makes sense, it's a very reasonable biological system of replicating/copying what works and passing it along; it's very energy efficient for a species, and historically we've had to conserve energy, our evolution would strongly favor a mimic what works system. As a concept it also doesn't elevate us above other biological systems that operate on this planet, we're not that special; whereas to pretend that everyone can be da Vinci is to falsify what humans are, to pretend every person is a creativity giant in waiting if only they got the right encouragement. It's just more of everyone gets a trophy culture in action.
I think it helps to compare "copy and remix" with "does nothing". Compare "watched 50 difference dances" with "saw 0 dances". When you see it in that light, it would be difficult to argue that some people don't get inspired by seeing new things.
Now, I might argue that the level of creativity added from each additional user is not linear. That the creativity added is vacuous, pointless, 99% mimicry, and doesn't actually move the conversation forward...
But there are those 1% of users who are able to participate in the global conversation and say something new, who otherwise would not be able to participate, that I think it's at least worth acknolwedging.
1. Have you heard of the belief of "Human Design"? That belief / theory / spiritual guide has a similar distribution to what you're talking about. I'm just curious if your thinking was independent to that or if you've ever heard of it. (https://www.jovianarchive.com/Human_Design/Types)
2. How do you define originality? Is it something where "you know it when you see it", or is it something else?
3. Thinking of probabilities, wouldn't it also make sense that the default for people is to be un-original? We only have so many elements and so many places, I have to imagine that people being 'incapable of [doing anything creative or original]' is less a value statement and more just a logical progression of probability.
4. I've also come to a feeling that a person doing something that they've seen before, but do not see right at that very minute, is 'non-internet brain thinking'. We didn't have visual records so prevalent until just recently in humanity's lifetime. Repetition of behavior (lately sometimes called 'holding space for X') is a useful function for social networks, giving validity to someone's creativity.
Again, not trying to invalidate anything you're saying (and I noted your 'cue the outrage' comment, hence why I'm over specifying this too)
Super interesting take on the article, I've been wondering similar things for a while.
Even someone as great as Picasso would not have been able to create the masterwork he left us without learning and getting inspirations (aka, steal) from other artists before his time.
If you ever think someone is creating good original art (because shitty original art is easy to create), chances are you are just not familiar with the work they stole from.
I think the book Steal Like an Artist addresses this.
TikTok acts likes this and the remix is like a blending/combining prior creativity that leads to continuous new creativity.
Or fantastic and courageous minds responding to some cultural or historical material?
(Which would be much in the way a TikToker responds to a meme while adding some of their own spice).
Let’s not get bogged down by the fact that one domain might be perceived as more valuable/respected and the other not so.
What have philosophers ever done post-Socrates except come across the ecosystem of historical philosophers and riff off of that?
Think about any modern scientist. Has their creativity been boosted by the existence of all the other scientists?
If I’m a physicist, the existence of Newton boosted my creativity because now I can apply calculus to problems. If I’m a biologist, Im leaning on Darwin and all the insights of statisticians and the people who have delineated the methods and findings around which I organize my science.
People have previously innovated the concepts, methods, and foundational understandings, and finding new insight can be a matter of combining these in novel ways.
I don’t think this is completely different than what the author is describing in TikTok. Both the format and ecosystem of tools that the service creates, and the social network of users create an environment where it’s easier to go out and make something.
A similar thing happens in science.
But TiKTok has only just launched that avatar. TiKTok has created another one. They are still creating the first and are hoping to add another.
And as a result, TikTok has become this strange thing called "the Internet's Most Dangerous Video." For some reason, even people who are a little skeptical have found the world and become so accustomed to the idea of TikTok and their little thing that they can't imagine how this project can kill their brains for some of the crazy shit they're actually watching on it.
Most of social media is just shallow attention grabbing time sinks. IOW, attention hacks.
Of course people are going to be outraged over the statement. You're playing a semantic game where you came up with your own definition of creativity that excludes what most people do, and then not actually defining it or justifying it. If you used a more common definition of creative you'd have no argument to make.
Novelty isn't the only thing that makes something creative, a string of randomly generated numbers is always novel but wouldn't be considered creative. Creativity requires novelty conveyed through recognizable patterns, which means some amount of mimicry has to be involved.
I think the word “prolific” applies to what TikTok facilitates, much more than the word “creative.” And personally I find the amount of word for word and beat for beat mimicry on the app maddening.
Citing dictionary definitions just shifts your argument from one word whose meaning you didn't define to another word whose meaning you haven't defined. Is the Mona Lisa original? It's not the first oil painting, nor the first portrait, nor even the first painting of an Italian noblewoman made in the renaissance style. Yet it's commonly considered to be creative despite being imitative and unoriginal in all those previously mentioned aspects. What definition of original can you then make that simultaneously includes the Mona Lisa, is mutually exclusive with any imitation, and excludes the "majority of humans".