Instagram vs. The Paradox of Choice

“80% of life is showing up,” Woody Allen said. If you never post your photo or video, you can pretty well guess the number of likes it’ll garner.

Instagram knows that the #1 predictor of whether a photo or video will get engagement (i.e. likes, comments) is how quickly it gets posted. (There’s a reason it’s not called “Latergram.”) The limitations of Instagram are what help people get across the finish line.

I used the nicely executed YouTube Capture app a bit over the holiday break. To my surprise, although it works just as advertised, I never shared anything I made with it, whereas I shared half a dozen videos I made with Instagram.

Instagram battles against “the paradox of choice.” Studies show that for every additional 401(k) plan a company offers, employee participation goes down. Why? Because when people have the option to dig in & do more research (work) to achieve the ideal outcome, they get paralyzed and don’t actually complete the mission.

That’s how I’m finding YouTube Capture: It’s easy to capture a bunch (i.e. more than 15 seconds) of footage, then optionally go back and trim, edit, re I’m on the hook to go back and review/trim it, meaning that I… oh sure, I will, soon… I swear… {life intervenes}.

“A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week,” said George Patton. Same goes for pics & vids, General.

8 thoughts on “Instagram vs. The Paradox of Choice

  1. As it happens, John was channeling George Patton when he spoke recently to his team: “My men don’t dig foxholes. Foxholes only slow up an offensive. Keep moving. We’ll win this war, but we’ll win it only by fighting and showing our competitors that we’ve got more guts than they have or ever will have. We’re not just going to shoot the bastards, we’re going to rip out their living goddamned guts and use them to grease the treads of our tanks. We’re going to murder those lousy app writers by the bushel-fucking-basket.”

  2. Perhaps there is a some truth in the arguments as you have deployed them John. But – it seems to me – only with just a singular application to a portion of the contemporary digital imaging arts.
    If you expand these considerations a bit to include other artistic creatives, then “instancy” is far less prominent. For example with music: arguably the Internet is actually a far better distribution platform for tunes, songs, sessions, pieces … of just about all types (in a digital format) – far better that is than is the case for still or motion images. But, likely because there’s a fatter potential commercial aspect to the former, people, groups, ensembles, composers, etc. don’t just chuck together something (“violently”) and send it on its digital musical travels. Much of the newest work you can find on iTunes, Spotify, etc. is actually very finely crafted, over weeks and months of preparation and performance. (As an example, I’m regularly thinking nowadays how much more innovative the soundtracks for TV commercials have become in recent times. Here’s a current case in point, from a “no name” studio (as far as I can tell):
    The same seems to be true, as another example, for the literary arts. But it’s even more pointed there because that writing of a poem, essay. short story, whatever, almost always involves just a single individual act (i.e., the composition work is not done or refined in a collaborative manner like most contemporary music). And in this case the Internet is almost completely barrierless as far as distribution and consumption is concerned. However the “Instagram-eaquivalent” for the literary world only barely got started: (and certainly won’t be worth a billion dollars anytime soon).
    The bottom line is that creativity reflects back the quality of what is produced. And achieving a truly creative vision in high quality will (always) take some time. But for photography and imaging: well, the general public just doesn’t hold that to be particularly innovative anymore (given the instant-output gizmos that everyone can carry in their pocket or purse today). The filters in Instagram simply guarantee that what’s produced is different … creative isn’t in that specific equation.

  3. For a long period of time it seemed that there were a lot of things in our digital life that needed to be fixed. Slow bandwidth. Limited RAM, Slow processors. Those factors actually limited what we could achieve. However, recently It seems we’re spending too much time making tools to do less – to actually avoid creating.
    Instagram is what I refer to as “passive creativity”. Quite similar to the way any photo could be made “cool” by adding a lens flare in photoshop in 1996. Where did that lead us? One of the biggest cliches ever and it proved how empty and soulless “easy” can be. Now we have animated lens flares flying all over the place and it is driving me crazy – JJ Abrams! (Opps.. rant alert)
    Maybe there is point when we have made things too easy – simply for the sake of instant gratification. Perhaps photography should be harder so that those with the willingness to learn and passion for it will rise out of the mediocrity. For all the discussions about technology being a great “leveler” in our society, actually it seems that in the long term it is just making talent less valuable than it was 20 years ago and harder define.
    Completing things in life is a fundamental skill that we all need to improve on. Some of us are simply lazy. Others incredibly prolific. Often we put limitations and deadlines in our path in order to force completion. However, if you have tools that do everything for you is that really completion? I love this digital age and the tools that we have, but I think we still need to work hard to create art. Why would we want to miss the opportunity of doing something hard that is great?

        1. Thanks in return.
          John had earlier featured what is actually Microsoft’s third iteration on image construction from multiple stills – it is here:
          It’s also possible to convert video footage to an image sequence and then submit a selection of those images to make a synth.
          p.s. I really miss NYC …!

  4. I believe I’m becoming an A7 to your G. If I don’t get an image on my Facebook page within a day, the chances it will are plotted on a log-p curve. If I really like it it might show up in a book later, but ….

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *