YouTube Shorts, FPV Model Trains, and Capt Kirk Forever

Plus weekly digital, social, and cultural trends... and an Instagram of things to hate

Today’s email was written to my 2021 Q1 Spotify Playlist, which closes next week as I start yet another quarterly playlist of moody tunes from scratch set to working-from-home-during-a-global-pandemic. You can listen to the 2021 Q1 vibes here and 2020’s cumulative playlist here. 🎶

Lots going on in the world and #MarketingTwitter this week, but I want to point to Delia Cai’s processing of Asian grief via linking to her favorite TikToks of Asian joy and also her piece on the promising accountability of the workplace confessional. Her newsletter is fantastic.

This week I learned how to set up a small business wired and wireless network in my home and got to play amateur IT technician, with lots of remote help from Blake Krone. There’s a whole world of infrastructure behind the high speed internet that powers our lives that I’ve always taken for granted. It took some serious work for me to get my brain around the basics, and I’m excited to learn more about it this year. And will henceforth show even more respect for those IT folks who keep the world connected. 🤯

Here’s what else I’m tracking this week…

YouTube Shorts Will Challenge TikTok and Instagram Reels: This week marked the introduction of the YouTube Shorts Beta to the U.S. Although Shorts appears to be a TikTok clone at-first, the social network will be adding features to use audio from videos across YouTube - which includes billions of videos worldwide - unlocking a new playground of creativity that rival networks don’t have. Update your mobile YouTube app and give it a spin.

How Friendships Thrived in Video Games During the Pandemic: Gaming has been mainstream for quite a while, but video game friendships have helped people get through a year of isolation and loneliness. Even pre-pandemic, while 80 percent of people said they played video games purely for entertainment and fun, more than half said it was a way of enjoying time with their friends. The time of lockdown only accelerated that trend. Key quote: “Combined with phone calls, texts and chat tools like Discord, video games — from battle royal “Fortnite” to the immersive world of “Roblox” — are giving people a way to share fun, escapist experiences with each other when their shared reality is darker. They also act as a conduit for discussing the harder topics, like depression. Whether it’s shooting aliens together in near silence or opening up about feelings of loss, playing games is serving a valuable purpose.”

Model Trains are Trending: Move over baking and jigsaw puzzles it turns out model trains are exploding in sales. Key quote: “For many people, the chance to create a separate, better world in the living room — with stunning mountains, tiny chugging locomotives, and communities of inch-high people where no one needs a mask — is hard to resist.” And for those of us not interested in recreating Mister Roger’s neighborhood at home, you can watch first-person-view model train videos on YouTube for hours, like Chesapeake, Wheeling, & Erie Cab Ride, and HO Scale Cab Ride on The California Southern.

“BookTok” Videos are Driving Best-Seller Lists: TikTok continues to set trends and impact sales, and the latest example features videos made mostly by women in their teens and 20s who recommend books, record time-lapses of themselves reading, or sob openly into the camera after an emotionally crushing ending using the hashtag #BookTok. Accounts worth checking out: @ALifeofLiterature, @jennajustreads, @moongirlreads, @aymansbooks.

Captain Kirk Forever: William Shatner is celebrating his 90th birthday by creating an AI-powered version of himself that’ll live forever. It’s not a full “digital mind clone,” however. Instead, he’s working with StoryFile to tape tons of interviews that will be powered by an AI component that selects which video to play based on your question.

Some Tweets:

Quick Hits:

See you on the internet! 🤠
Greg

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