July 17, 2022

Eight Episodes In Plus An Update

I’ve posted the eighth episode of Our Expat Journey to Portugal on my YouTube channel. Just passed the 200 mark for subscribers. Growth has been slow since I posted the first episode on 21 May. I am actually trying to do things (some things, anyway) the “right” way regarding content and presentation. I may go into that a bit more soon.

First, I have to return home — later this week — from my current trip to the East Coast. And I’ll have more to say in my developing series on “what is a documentary”?

July 4, 2022

The Whole Comments Thing, Again

Somehow this seems like a fitting topic for this Independence Day 🙂

So the previous post was about comments on the internet. And I have written many times over the years about the folly of my original “learned” opinion about such things back in the day.

If you want to take a look at recent content of mine that’s received a few rough comments, check out episode 5 of Our Expat Journey on my YouTube channel. You’ll notice I did answer one of them because I detected respect. I think the reply represented misunderstanding. I then chose to drop it.

As far as I can tell, there is no downside to ignoring comments on most social media platforms. I have joined and tested most of them over the years because some of these platforms can be used by journalists, so I need to know them at least as well as my students. My testings and knowings should not be mistaken for mastery. And I have rarely given platforms much deep thought except the big three: Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

Many I have subsequently ignored. SnapChat, for example.

But TicTok? Hmmmmm… this one is interesting. This one is evil.

I’m not talking about the question of what use the Chinese government makes of this app. The data privacy horse left the barn a long time ago. I’m talking about finally understanding something about TikTok that, well, 99 percent of you have known for a long time. It’s just so damned obvious. And evil.

[Note: I’m using “evil” in a non-spiritual sense. I mean to indicate TikTok, intended or not, exploits us. I know I packed much into that statement. Maybe I’ll go into detail sometime.]

OK, here’s my “the dumbass finally gets it” revelation: TikTok is all about feeding the trolls.

As far as I can tell, it doesn’t matter what kind of content you post (although there’s a range of typical stuff that gets attention). The way to achieve greater attention from the audience and the algorithm is to feed the trolls. You’re specifically and intentionally rewarded for this. The big three don’t operate this way. Ignoring trolls costs you little. Feeding them gains you little.

TicTok is all about attracting and feeding trolls.

So, yeah, you’re asking yourself just “how stupid is this guy?”

Well, I’ll tell you how stupid: I actually used TikTok for a bit. My username is @docfilmdirector. I was trying to do documentary film reviews. Yes, I know. What a snore! And you can guess the results.


If I were interested in TikTok success, the formula is rather easy: Do whatever, but make sure you understand and deliver clickbait. Then feed all the trolls. Also, according to a student of mine who has a successful channel: post every day, a few times if possible.

You know… kinda like the early days of blogging 🙂

June 20, 2022

Comments on the Interwebs

Nope. Not gonna write a big analysis of this. And this isn’t even a “policy.”

You’ll notice there are not very many comments on Rhetorica since its re-launch as my documentary film brand. And that’s just the way I like it 🙂

It also indicates that I have a smaller audience than during this blog’s heyday.

I’m always happy to engage with respectful people whether they agree with me or not. I’m not happy about providing a platform that can be abused. But, sadly, offering that platform is the price one pays for the desire to be heard (on some level) in the public sphere.

I was one of those academics back in the day who thought internet commenting was going to be a good thing for civic participation.

You can thank me later for the hearty belly laugh 🙂

June 15, 2022

Watch Lists for Documentary Films

I just posted my second tweet of the day regarding yet another list of documentary films. I sort of play this for a chuckle because there are so many of these lists published. But, really, I find these “listicles” very useful because I try (and succeed imperfectly) to watch a documentary film every day. I maybe actually watch only three or four per week 🙂

June 14, 2022

Work Continues on Back-to-the-Land Documentary

Now that I’m back from my trip to Portugal (see my personal project on becoming an expat), I’m back to work on the back-to-the-land documentary being directed by Denise Vaughn. I’m the cinematographer and doing some project consulting. Many of the interviews with members of the original 1970s movement into the Missouri Ozarks will be housed in the Special Collections at Meyer Library at Missouri State University.

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