I only obtained my first computer three years ago. For decades, I had resisted the lure of the Interweb – but eventually succumbed, when other methods of communication (texting, snail mail – semaphore) became so unreliable that I was left with little choice.
But I soon discovered that this “new” medium had its advantages – one of which was, as a record collector, the ability to fill my “wish-list” of recordings that had evaded me – some for nigh on fifty years.
While I BOUGHT some recordings, I also soon discovered that YouTube was about more than just young idiots filming themselves in low-res, jumping off garage rooves to see if they could break a bone – and those dumb enough to want to watch them.
RECORD COLLECTORS had begun to upload the gems from their collections too. In some cases, the collectors would only upload snippets, to advertise themselves as buyers, sellers and/or file-sharers, but in most cases, they were simply philanthropic – uploading everything they had, for all to ENJOY.
Back in the Seventies, I had theorised that in the distant future – but probably before I was dead – there would exist a giant computer which would have EVERY record EVER recorded on it, that would enable people to download ANY record they wanted.
Of course, the reality is somewhat different. Various download PAY-services exist for MODERN records – but for VINTAGE stuff, there is only YouTube. And its use as a file-sharing medium for record collectors is TOTALLY unofficial.
After all sorts of too-ing and fro-ing, the “Big Four” companies who “own” most of the World’s music came to an agreement with YouTube. Their computers would LINK to YouTube and as a piece of their music was BEING UPLOADED, said computer would identify it – then issue a decree on what would happen to it, BEFORE it got posted.
Thus some pieces get blocked in some countries – some World-wide – but most are ALLOWED to be posted – with FREE ADVERTISEMENTS, for the companies concerned.
Which means posting copyright material is like Russian Roulette. Most pieces are allowed – some are restricted – while pieces owned by SMALL companies who COMPLAIN, can earn you COPYRIGHT STRIKES.
In addition, a quick flash of BOOB will get you a “community guidelines” strike – but San Francisco’s Metacafe and France’s Dailymotion (which sounds like a constipation medicine) are less tight-arsed, so I post grown-up material there.
And so it was that, about two years ago, I began “giving back” to the community of collectors, by uploading gems from MY record, tape and disk collection – I had already uploaded the best of my WRITINGS.
It started small – but then like Topsy, it GROWED. I now have nearly TWO THOUSAND posts up, if one includes my written pieces.
Over FOURTEEN HUNDRED pieces of music, movie clips, TV material and my restored photographs and “movie”. Plus another FIVE hundred-odd written pieces, many reworked from my output over the last seventeen years. And in addition to these columns (of which this is just ONE) there are my IMDb write-ups, self-help book and short story. THREE YEARS’ WORK – so far.
For security reasons (the words “basket” and “eggs” immediately spring to mind) the material occupies thirty-seven separate “channels”.
And these channels have become my LIFE. A chap’s life can be divided into four segments. 0-19: Childhood. 20-39: Young Adulthood. 40-59: Middle Age. And 60-79: Old Age (to which could be added 80-plus: FREAKISH Old Age). Thus it is that I am fast approaching the Fourth Quarter of my time in This Place.
Which, a few years ago, gave me cause for concern. What would happen to my almost 5,000 records, tapes and disks after I had LEFT This Place? For fifty years, I had been collecting and RECORDING The Extraordinary – pieces of genius from The Century Of Mass Entertainment.
In many cases, collections end up having the marketable items stripped from them – while the rest ends up in a SKIP. NOT a prospect I found acceptable. So what could I do, to JUSTIFY all of that work? I mean, in the early years, I USED the material I had gathered. Mostly for my own entertainment – although I also ran a discotheque for a while.
However – now having retired to Thailand, all of that is behind me. I rarely have TIME to play stuff from The Collection. Satellite TV – and assorted British A/V material sent on disks by my son – give me an unending supply of NEW stuff to watch and listen to.
Then along came YouTube.
At first, I uploaded a mere few gems, just to “pay back” those collectors whose generosity had enabled me to fill that wish-list. But then slowly I began to realise – here was an OPPORTUNITY. My fifty-year-collection of records, tapes and disks were just so much PLASTIC – but now I had a medium through which I could place the MATERIAL on them into the Public Domain.
Even if I COULD find someone to take on The Collection after I croaked, they would still only be ONE PERSON (and even if they were able to devote eight hours every DAY to the task – it would still take them over a YEAR to play the lot) whereas if I uploaded it onto the Information Superhighway, it could be accessed by the WORLD – a sort of Cosmic Library.
And so it was that I began The Project.
So far I have uploaded, into the ether, the best and rarest bits from my video-tapes, albums, 78s, 45s, 12″ 45s, DVDs, VCDs and CDs and am currently on the LAST phase – my audio-tapes. But my philanthropy has created a phenomenon I had not reckoned with.
I now have FANS.
The thing is, for the afore-mentioned security reasons, I could not upload all my material onto a single channel – I dare not even LIST all of the channels in one place. Thus only I KNOW where they all ARE. But put TOGETHER, the channels’ visitors and followers – number in the MILLIONS.
And every now and then, I go and check my “fan-mail” – and have discovered what it is like to be a minor celebrity. Of course, MAJOR celebs have PEOPLE to answer their fan-mail (the bit in “Hard Day’s Night” where the Beatles answer their own fan-mail was FICTION – NO-ONE could keep up with THAT amount of mail).
Most of it is just “adoration” – which I can now see gets a bit BORING after a while. However, where it gets INTERESTING is when someone tells you WHY something you uploaded means something SPECIAL to them. Like the two separate comments I got on an obscure failed TV pilot I uploaded in full, from two technicians (one on sound, the other on lighting) who, back in the Eighties, had worked on the show – but never actually SEEN it.
And this is why I cannot just IGNORE my mail. It is far more important than mere HITS. Some upload pieces of utter CRAP and, by giving them “sexy” titles, get MILLIONS of hits. But while the stream of abuse they get as comments (and the huge number of “dislikes”) may be TROPHIES to them – I do NOT need thousands of people telling me I am a PRAT.
Also, one has to break up the occasional SCRAP. By this, I mean delete trollish comments before they get out of hand. These can become something like those bar-room brawls you used to get in Westerns.
Example: you post a piece where some Americans died, attempting to further science. Next thing, someone posts a comment saying “served them right, for playing God”. Or pointing out that the MILLIONS who died in Vietnam…
Sometimes, quite innocuous comments can turn into WARS. The cowboy jogs another’s arm, spilling his beer – that guy takes a swing at the first guy, but misses, clouting another – and pretty soon half the stuntmen in Hollywood are demolishing the saloon, while the pianist in the corner rattles away like mad.
And it does not take long for a comment column to degenerate into something like that. Thus, POLICING is necessary.
But while the comments one receives are one’s main source of redemption, one cannot TOTALLY ignore those seductive HIT NUMBERS. Which brings me (and not a moment too soon) to “The Hall”.
Right now, my hits total for ALL my works (not including IMDb, who do not DO hits) is seven point eight MILLION. And with a current DAILY rate in excess of THIRTY-TWO THOUSAND, I am presently getting around TWELVE MILLION HITS A YEAR – and growing.
Now a while back, I established VISUAL ways of putting my hit statistics into PERSPECTIVE. Twelve million is more than the population of BELGIUM. While thirty-two thousand equals fourteen full houses at the London Palladium. And so on.
But more recently, ANOTHER picture emerged – The Hall.
The question had occurred: since I was reaching out to someone, somewhere in the World, every TWO POINT SEVEN SECONDS – how many people were viewing AT THE SAME TIME?
This was rather tricky to establish, given I had no statistics with which I could work out the AVERAGE LENGTH of my posts. So at this point, I had to get a bit creative. Inevitably, most of my more popular pieces are Pop videos – average length: three-and-a-quarter minutes.
Likewise, my records tend to average two to three minutes.
But I have a lot of TV pieces up – and they usually run from five to fifteen.
Plus I have SOME pieces that last up to an HOUR or more.
Then there are the WRITTEN pieces – THIS one is already pretty long.
And of course, there is always the question of how long people STAY with my pieces. YouTubers have notoriously short attention-spans!
In the end, I came up with a figure based solely upon my own GUT FEELING (having spent years uploading it all) on the matter – four-and-a-half minutes.
And if you divide that by the two point seven seconds, you get a conveniently ROUND figure – ONE HUNDRED. Hence – The Hall.
Somewhere in the Cosmos, I picture a church hall (which would be about the right size) and it is occupied by one hundred people, twenty-four-seven – my CONGREGATION, if you will. They each remain for the four-and-a-half minutes – then every two point seven seconds, someone gets up and leaves, passing someone at the doorway who is coming IN.
And since my hit numbers are constantly INCREASING, one day that hall might actually grow to the size of the afore-mentioned Palladium. But for now…