Posted by: travelrat | August 19, 2016

The Smoke Signal Syndrome

Bodelwyddan 1

These days, it sometimes seems you can’t buy anything mechanical or electronic, from a toaster to a car, unless it comes with a lot of ‘features’ you don’t need, and never use. Take, for instance, an ad I recently saw for a video camera that lets you ‘instantly upload your footage to the Internet.’

Not, I think a desirable feature; I’ve just sat through an Instagram of shaky video and a gabbled commentary … and switched it off halfway. Now, wouldn’t it have been much better if he’d taken it home, sat down at his computer, and edited it; just taken the good bits, and added some music, and maybe a scripted commentary?  The subject was interesting enough, it just got spoiled by a desire to share it as soon as possible.

It’s the same with still pictures, too. I know someone … I just ‘unfriended’ him on Facebook … who kept uploading each and every picture he took, as soon as he could find an internet connection. Again, I think it’s much better to take them home, have a look at them on the computer screen, and maybe crop and adjust where necessary. Then, upload only the best ones, which you think will be of interest to others.

When I worked in communications in the Royal Air Force, we often spoke of the ‘Smoke Signal Rule’, which held that, the easier communication got, the more trivial and meretricious was the material passed down it. Whereas, a Native American would only climb a hill with a load of firewood and a blanket, and light a signal fire if he had something important to say.

There’s a lot of pictorial dross uploaded to social media these days, so, if you want to get a lot of people clicking the ‘Like’ button … take your stuff home, cut, crop, edit … and, above all, THINK!

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