How to be

Having used YouTube on a daily basis, I thought it would be interesting to explore and contrast fellow video sharing platform Vimeo. People had sent me links to Vimeo before, but I’d always found the site intimidating to navigate and understand, so it was finally time to put on my big girl pants and discover the platform properly.

The first thing you notice is a difference in the home pages. The YouTube home page is a splash of colour and clickable links, so you can dive right in to your entertainment rabbit hole. However with Vimeo you land on a bland page which wants you to sign up or you’re not seeing anything. So I signed up and – oh my goodness – it was worth it. The videos are cinematic sound and stunning visual quality. A feast of short films which have toured international film festivals, or created by people who soon will. The comments are very different too, on Vimeo it’s universally positive, applauding and supporting their creative peers. On YouTube, well, it’s a mixed bag of the good, the bad and the ugly jackass who really should get a better hobby.

The next thing you notice is the adverts – you’re surrounded by them on YouTube. It’s free to post and watch videos, so they’ve got to fun the site somehow I guess. However Vimeo is funded by subscription by the content creators, so it’s an ad free utopia.

I typed “How to” into the search functions of both sites. YouTube has saved my ass on several occasions, from fixing faults with my car to my boiler, it’s a huge money saver and a real practical help. So what was Vimeo’s top hit? The beautifully Zen, How to Be…

YouTube’s top hit? How to Kiss – a practical tutorial by two influencers! Zen instantly shattered. I watched 2 seconds of that video and I think I’ll need to put ‘How To Be’ on loop for the rest of the day. Boke.

Dance Monkey

So this afternoon I have mostly been exploring Merlot – “on a Monday daytime?!” I hear you gasp! No, not the wine (for once) it’s an Open Educational Resource online search tool – try saying that after a few glasses! So what should you learn first when you have the entire world’s knowledge at your fingertips…? How to hip hop dance seems a good start.

Although I’m not sure the Dancing Paul site quite lived up to my lofty expectations. It features some top tunes and will keep you entertained for a good 10 minutes though.

Might even try to whip out some of those moves at the work Christmas party…

Creative Commons

My most popular video on YouTube (by far) is one where I recite the Martin
Niemöller poem First They Came for The Communists. It’s been on the site over 10 years and has received to date about 54,000 views. Interestingly the views spiked when Donald Trump came into power – make of that what you need to.

I was very aware at the time that I hadn’t actually written the poem and it contained an important sentiment for people to hear, so I was happy to give it a Creative Commons licence so it could be shared far and wide, hopefully in educational settings among others.

But I was a little disappointed to find later that someone had copied my video in its entirety. I guess thems the breaks when you post stuff online, I thought. But couldn’t they have at least acknowledged the actor in the video, if not the channel from which it came?

Creative Commons provides a fantastic resource, as long as we all play by the rules. I’ve never met Swiss Beatboxer Pepouni – I’d love to – but I think it’s really great he’s made his work freely available through Creative Commons so I can welcome people to my Home page with it, properly credited of course.

The Creative Commons Licence states that “Every Creative Commons licence includes By Attribution (BY), this requires that the creator of the work be credited and a link (or URL) be provided back to the online source of the work.” So I got in touch with the stealer – sorry Sharer of my video, and asked them to credit me as the originator of it. We shall see if they play ball.


With ordinary talent and extraordinary perseverance, all things are attainable

Thomas Buxton, 1886

For most of us Wikipedia is the first stop on any research journey, but I have been finding out there is so much more to the wonderful world of Wikimedia. From buckets of quotes for when your inspiration takes a dip on Wikiquote, to free to use music on Wikimedia Commons, you could even take a course on Voice Acting at Wikiversity.

Feeling uplifted and wanting to share joy with the world I tried to add some epic beat boxing from Wikimedia Commons to my About page, so visitors can bop along to the beat as they read my creative history. But when I went to show my son to prove how down with the kids Mum really is, I found out it only works in selected web browsers. Damn. It’s a real shame they don’t make the music files available in a range of universal formats to satisfy every creative need, I grumbled, then downloaded some wine and went to bed.

However one thing about me is that I’m not easily beaten, or I’m perfectly stubborn, one of the two; so I clicked and read and clicked and read until at last I found an mp3 file, figured out a way to attach it and got it to work.

Ultimately I learned three things throughout this process: 1. Firefox is a far superior web browser; 2. the navigation of Wikimedia Commons is terrible, but if you drill down eventually you will strike gold; 3. perseverance pays off.

Pony spotting

If you’ve watched all of my Youtube videos and STILL have nothing better to do, go to Google Hangouts, start a chat with anyone and type in /ponystream

If it doesn’t make your mouth curl up at the sides just a tiny wee bit you are probably dead inside. I spotted a flaming pony, a unicorn pony, an Elvis pony and a hipster pony.

Too sickly sweet? Type in /pitchforks and find out why the aforementioned pony is flaming.

You have now utilised this app to the peak of its ability and have no further reason to ever use it again. Trot on Hangouts, you are so 2016.

Face up

Ah Facebook – I use you every day and yet I hate you. You play on my fear of missing out, yet cause me to miss out on what is right in front of me – the beauty of the wonderfully wild world.

You have messed so badly with our News Feeds you now expect us to make Groups to find out about the people who we really care about.

Isolated, we join large groups of strangers with a single common interest, instead of spending quality time with close friends building several common interests together.

We scroll endlessly through groups, pages and news feeds, like a slot machine that rarely wins in a casino that never shuts. Switch off! Uninstall. Remember those old TV adverts “It’s good to talk”? TALK, to whoever is next to you. Use your phone to call a friend and ask them what they are up to and how they are. Instead of staring into the hypnotic online void.

Ah well, time for bed, I’ll have a quick check of Facebook, then enjoy a real book, then melt into a nice early night… OMG it’s 2am. What am I still doing on facebook!!!!?

Machir Bay, Islay

Tweeting cats and dogs

As a self confessed crazy cat lady, I was shocked to find the number one interest of my Twitter followers is… dogs. How can this be?! Isn’t sharing cat pictures the main point of Twitter? Does this mean we need to set up a new social media site?

Having never knowingly posted anything about dogs I hastily added some cute dog GIFs to prove I thought they were OK too. But then I saw an article about Captain Marvel’s cat Goose, which I just had to share, negating all my hard work.

Having some reasonably strong political beliefs I genuinely thought that politics would be the number one interest of my followers. But no. Dogs.

The second biggest interest was Music Festivals and Concerts… well I suppose that makes me look reasonably cool, doesn’t it?

The thirst biggest? The weather. More people on my Twitter are interested in the weather than the international average. 17% more in fact. Which just goes to prove I’m British I suppose. Current forecast? Raining cats and dogs.

You can follow me on Twitter here:

I’ll follow back if you’re a cat person.

Bella playing Switch

Gen Z

“80% of 13–20-year-olds, or “Gen Z”, believe that gender did not define a person as much as it used to… and only 44% always bought clothes designed for their own gender”

I wish I could remember what I was buying online, something innocuous like a toaster, and when I went to fill in the form to complete my purchase they asked for my gender. “What the hell do they need to know that for!?” I fumed. I couldn’t even skip the question to prove a point.

I understand that marketing departments like to know who is buying their products, but forcing anyone to answer this question may very well backfire and turn potential purchasers away. Gender can be a loaded question for many different reasons, particularly if the only options on a form are male or female.

And even if a marketing department found out that 80% of people buying that toaster identify as female – what are they going to do about it? Start producing it only in pink?

Young people increasingly feel that gender doesn’t define them, so capturing this somewhat arbitrary information can make companies look out of date.

It’s probably just as well I can’t remember the name of the gift company that I saw lots of adverts for on YouTube last year. A man was unboxing loads of neat tech gadgets. “That’s cool,” I thought. “I wonder what the woman is going to find in her gift box?”…. Makeup. Groan. If I hadn’t valued my laptop so much I might have thrown it out of the window.

A world that is, thankfully, moving away from gender stereotypes, benefits not just for the trans community but absolutely EVERYONE. So lets stop asking this question unless it is ABSOLUTELY necessary.

Just be you you want to be

Dance the same?

I must admit I never understood why we moved away from yellow faced emojis and found myself gritting my teeth while hovering over a white or yellow face. Isn’t it better we escape judgments about skin colour or looks in general while online?

However, I must admit I did a squeal of joy when I heard there were emojis coming out with ginger hair!  So perhaps your online presence is the perfect place to showcase differences you are proud of, particularly if they are under-represented or even maligned in the mainstream.

Actually, I think I shed a tear of validation when I saw there was a single mum emoji (thank you Christina Aguilera’s Twitter!) Single mums are typically portrayed as incompetent parents or benefit scrounging sluts, instead of the kick-ass grafters of insurmountable love and that we truly are. So finding ways to represent ‘not so perfect families’ like mine can give us the chance to show them off in a positive light.

So in conclusion, if you want to use a generic yellow face and celebrate commonalities: that’s cool. Or if you want to celebrate uniqueness and select from over 30 different nose shapes on Bitmoji: that’s cool too. Dance the way you want to… just enjoy the party… and don’t leave a mess.


During an exercise that seemed like a serious bit of work but felt a lot like procrastination I checked the app permissions on my phone. Like all of life’s great mysteries the more I probed the more I developed questions rather than answers:

Why are 21 out of 45 apps using my camera?

Why do messaging apps need to know my location?

Why does the dictionary app need to access the telephone?

Why does Google need to access my contacts?

In fact, why does Google need to access EVERYTHING?

If I were an app developer I’d create a dating app that could read your heart beat then swipe automatically, as sometimes the heart knows what the head doesn’t.

Although that might accidentally match you with someone who just makes you angry…!