Mind Fields: The Apocalypse Of YouTube

Mind Fields

April 19, 2021

I Love YouTube

April 19, 2021

The Apocalyptic Age Of YouTube

YouTube blows my mind. It’s GOD, it’s SHIVA, it’s…ummm..you know. Effing SUPERB! So much for the capital letters. I love YouTube. I love all the video platforms, from Godtube to Vimeo. We are living in an extraordinary time. The tools for creativity have multiplied so that billions of people have access to recording devices. Phones, vidcams, DSLRs, we now have quality gear to produce clean videos. It’s Content Heaven, and the content is whatever you want to make of it. I like discovering and studying things, like music, archaeology, astronomy. I go to school every day and it’s on the internet.

 I think I’ve learned more in the last year than in all my previous life. YouTube has taught me more than many years of school taught me. I hated school…so there you go. I wasn’t about to learn anything from a place I hated. On YouTube, I’ve acquired skills from the most patient and benevolent teachers. Many providers of content do so out of their own generosity. They don’t make money, they don’t advertise.

The advent of the Vlog, or video blog, is a major development. I found the travel vlog Baldandbankrupt.com by accident. An adventurous Brit travels the world. We only know his name, Benjamin. He doesn’t tell us much else. As a guide he’s superb. He’s simple but entertaining, and his erudition is inconspicuous. He’s just one of us, “one of the guys”. He has a knack for languages. He does passably well in Russian and Hindi. What else does he speak? Who knows?

On the southern perimeter of the ex-Soviet Union there are a dozen nations, all of whom speak Russian.  Consider that a gift of the Soviet past. It endowed all of Asia right up to the borders of China with a common language. As we can see through Ben’s travels, the cultures and heritages of the erstwhile Russian Empire are relatively intact. Whether it’s in Ukraine or Kalmykia, those peoples remember their legacies from The Silk Road and the steppes. In essence Bald Ben follows The Great Game, that competition between the British and the Russians that took up so much of the 19th Century. They competed in Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan and Turkestan. They confronted one another across vast swathes of central Asia.  They were full of Imperial ambition. The geography is immense. If Ben wants to be in the middle of nowhere, there are plenty of nowhere places to go. Especially in the once proud Soviet Union. 

Back to YouTube, the Guru, The Miracle Baba. It gives tirelessly. It’s our creation, ours. I wanted to learn piano and I didn’t feel that I could afford a teacher. YouTube’s piano teachers are legion, and I’ve fastened on a few piano mentors to help me master the instrument. After nine months of practice I can run scales, play and recognize most of my chords, and perform a few songs. When was this possible, before the internet? When I took trumpet lessons as a kid the dreaded Mister Haspiel came to our house weekly to instill in me the love of the instrument. It turned out that I was a drummer, and trumpet wasn’t so much a mistake as it was my mother’s design to thwart me as a drummer. I hated the trumpet! My mother hated it too, she hated my creativity. She once threw my trumpet down the basement steps. My dad had to buy me another. I got an upgrade: a shiny Selmer to replace that funky old Buescher. Thanks, Dad! And thanks again, departed father, for tolerating my drums after I had pestered you so much that you had to buy me drums to shut me up! I became a pretty good drummer. I can still paradiddle and double paradiddle with the best of them.

Mother’s long gone and YouTube offers free piano lessons, or cheap piano lessons, whatever…I can buy a course for a hundred bucks. If I can tell you anything, it is this: learning is fun. I’m an old man and I’m still learning. I’m still perfecting skills. How cool is that? Don’t get bored. Don’t be boring. Feed your spirit, especially with music. 

Additional Notes:

YouTube is so freewheeling a form that it is possible for you to meet yourself online. Get into someone’s video or make your own. When Ben “Bald” wanders the Ukraine he runs into people who are watching his travel vlog. Now they’re IN his vlog. The loopy nature of this appeals to me. The skills for video making are evolving, but the toolkit is replete with every kind of Fade, Swipe, Roll, Caption, Insert, Delete. The skill with the camera involves knowing exactly when to turn on a subject, how to walk, narrate, greet people in foreign tongues, deter thieves and touts, and when to shut up and be quiet. One does these things simultaneously. It’s a flow, a rhythm and it’s impossible to fake. Vloggers are like musicians learning their chops as they record. A good vlog narration is a consummate filmic device. Not all vloggers are equal. And not all vloggers are as independent as Benjamin Rich on baldandbankrupt dot com. 

The YouTube/video post phenomenon has spawned whole new industries. There are video “factories” where buildings are divided not into offices but studios for the recording of videos of all stripes from science to porn. The miniaturization of gear and the lowered cost of production have moved videos into the mainstream. 

This is the Golden Age of Content. More people are doing more things with video than has ever been possible. 


Arthur Rosch is a novelist, musician, photographer and poet. His works are funny, memorable and often compelling. One reviewer said “He’s wicked and feisty, but when he gets you by the guts, he never lets go.” Listeners to his music have compared him to Frank Zappa, Tom Waits, Randy Newman or Mose Allison. These comparisons are flattering but deceptive. Rosch is a stylist, a complete original. His material ranges from sly wit to gripping political commentary.

Arthur was born in the heart of Illinois and grew up in the western suburbs of St. Louis. In his teens he discovered his creative potential while hoping to please a girl. Though she left the scene, Arthur’s creativity stayed behind. In his early twenties he moved to San Francisco and took part in the thriving arts scene. His first literary sale was to Playboy Magazine. The piece went on to receive Playboy’s “Best Story of the Year” award. Arthur also has writing credits in Exquisite Corpse, Shutterbug, eDigital, and Cat Fancy Magazine. He has written five novels, a memoir and a large collection of poetry. His autobiographical novel, Confessions Of An Honest Man won the Honorable Mention award from Writer’s Digest in 2016.

More of his work can be found at www.artrosh.com

Photos at https://500px.com/p/artsdigiphoto?view=photos


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Growing Bookworms – “Why must I read when the world is electronic and I prefer computer games to books?”

Children need to learn to read and write. This is an undebatable fact. Well, it’s undebatable from a parents point of view, it is very debatable from a teenagers point of view. I have had a number of conversations with children, including my younger son, about the necessity of reading.

“Why do I need to read when I can watch a movie?”

“Why must I read when the world is electronic and I prefer computer games to books?”

The simple answer, is that despite our moving to a more visual and electronic platform, everything in our modern lives is still underpinned by the written word. It is merely it’s shape and form that has changed.

Every movie and most television shows are based on screenplays which are written by writers, or even groups of writers. Many movies and television series are adapted from books. If there were no books, our choices of visual media would be much more limited. Screenplays would be written, but without creativity and a knowledge of writing, a screenplay could not exist. In my experience, the range of creative writing and English literacy skills our children learn is far more expansive than what I learned at school. Their curriculum now includes visual literacy and film study as well as the traditional grammar, poetry, comprehension and creative writing I studied. These are changes that accommodate our changing times.

As for computer games, I soon realised that the computer games my children play are not the Pacman or Donkey Kong style games from my childhood, but are sophisticated stories with themes and plots. My sons have learned all about Greek and Norse mythology from computer games, as well as how to plan a war or battle with supply lines and build an entire society form a little creature that whistles to a race that can fly to the moon. When they were younger, they learned about farming. They planted crops, water and feed them and eventually harvested them.

Picture of Pacman Doodle from Google

The knowledge and skills they have gained from computer games are not inferior or worthless. The games of strategy have taught them useful survival and planning techniques. The most interesting thing for me about their games is that they require reading. There are pop up notifications continuously as the game progresses. The characters also speak and interact and their thoughts and plans are often set out in words exactly like subtitles. I have also discovered that my children Google information about their games and look up how to do things. This also requires reading.

I point this out to them. If you couldn’t read, you wouldn’t be able to play this game. If people didn’t write, there would be no script for the game you are playing. Because our lives are more visual now does not mean that these skills are not longer necessary. There are vital to engage in this virtual world. In this context, my sons understand the importance of reading. I have linked it to their world.

We no longer write letters, but we spend all day long on email. Writing an email requires good communication skills or you will not achieve the desired outcome.

We no longer draft lengthily reports but precise power point presentations with succinct bullet points. If you have prepared such presentations you will know that their preparation requires more thought and careful word choice than the long and wordy documents we produced in the past. Preparing a good presentation requires an ability to summarise and pick pertinent points out of a larger feedback document.

Even those of us who work mainly with figures – the number crunches of the world – have to be able to write and communicate effectively. A complex spreadsheet and lines of figures must be reduced to a written interpretive document and then to a concise bulleted presentation. They are meaningless without interpretation and communication to others.

As a parent of two teenage boys I have learned to put my personal prejudices [or literary snobbery] aside when it comes to learning to read. There is nothing wrong with graphic novels. In fact, a lot of our adult humour and political sarcasm is shared through cartoons and memes. This makes visual literacy essential – Ha! The teachers are right after all.

I have decided that if my sons see little benefit to reading Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne or The Time Machine by H.G. Wells and prefer to read five volumes of the Minecraft Combat Handbook, that is actually okay.

Picture from Amazon US

And having achieved this peace of mind, I even celebrated it with a cake!

About Robbie Cheadle


Robbie Cheadle has published nine books for children and one poetry book. She has branched into writing for adults and young adults and, in order to clearly separate her children’s books from her adult books, is writing for older readers under the name Roberta Eaton Cheadle.

Robbie Cheadle’s Sir Chocolate children’s picture books are written in sweet, short rhymes which are easy for young children to follow and are illustrated with pictures of delicious cakes and cake decorations. Each book also includes simple recipes or biscuit art directions which children can make under adult supervision. Her books for older children also incorporate recipes that are relevant to the storylines.

Roberta Eaton Cheadle’s supernatural stories combine fabulous paranormal elements with fascinating historical facts.

Children’s picture books – available as a square book and an A5 book (co-authored with Michael Cheadle):
Sir Chocolate and the strawberry cream story and cookbook
Sir Chocolate and the baby cookie monster story and cookbook
Sir Chocolate and the sugar dough bees story and cookbook
Sir Chocolate and the Condensed Milk River story and cookbook
Sir Chocolate and the Sugar Crystal Caves story and cookbook
Sir Chocolate and the Fondant Five story and cookbook
Sir Chocolate and the Ice Cream Rainbow Fairies story and cookbook

Middle school books:
Silly Willy Goes to Cape Town (includes five fun party cake ideas)
While the Bombs Fell (co-authored with Elsie Hancy Eaton)

Poetry book:
Open a new door (co-authored with Kim Blades)

Supernatural fantasy YA novel:
Through the Nethergate

Horror Anthologies (edited by Dan Alatorre):
Dark Visions

Paranormal Anthologies (edited by Kaye Lynne Booth):
Spirits of the West
Whispers of the Past

Murder mystery Anthology (edited by Stephen Bentley)
Death Among Us

Find Robbie Cheadle

Blog: https://bakeandwrite.co.za/

Blog: robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com

Twitter: BakeandWrite

Instagram: Robbie Cheadle – Instagram

Facebook: Sir Chocolate Books


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