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  • An Interview with... Alan Chua, seasoned traveller and YouTuber

    Photo by Alan Chua in Hongcun 宏村 with @supermins. Image may contain: one or more people, people walking and outdoor

     

    So many people are already taking great videos of so many places all over the world. Today we’re talking to Alan Chua a seasoned traveller and YouTuber from Singapore who’s already got lots of videos of walks to his name.

     

    Alan, when did you start taking videos of places you've been to?

    I started my video recordings in late January 2019.  

    What inspired to start recording your experiences? 

    It started with a travel problem I faced. In December of 2018, I had arranged to make a trip to Harbin in China and was keen to see what the place was like. Harbin is located in Northeast China and is one of the coldest places, with a minus-20 degree temperature at that time. I had never been to a sub-zero location before, and was keen on understanding how life is like over there. When I did my Youtube research on Harbin, I realised that there was a real lack of videos on how the place is like. Most of the searches that turned up were on the tourist attractions in the region, which was useful, but not what I was looking for. I just wanted to see "what it is like, without any sort of filter or video editing on the location". 

    After my trip, when I went back to Singapore I started to research if such videos existed about my country, and I realised that it faced the same issue. There were highly-edited videos about Singapore and its tourist attractions, but nothing to show what it really is like. So I decided to start recording.

    Why do you think it is important to share an authentic experience through your videos?

    I think it is about letting a person make a decision for themselves regarding the location. I can describe how a location looks like, or how I felt about the place, but I think what is important is how the viewer feels themselves. So I choose to eliminate all commentary and captions, and letting the viewer decide for themselves how they feel about the place.

    What do you want people to experience through your videos?

    I want my viewers to feel authenticity when they see the footage. When they look at it they will know that it is real. There are no gimmicks or attempts to sway their opinions by video editing. What you see is what you get.    

    Do you have any favourite videos?

    I think one of my favourite walking videos is by Rambalac who did a video of Tokyo Shibuya at night. It was a real inspiration to me, and a validation that such walking videos can attract a niche audience, yet reach a mainstream audience as well.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6qGiXY1SB68&t=1971s  

    As well as taking videos, do you like to see what other people are posting as well?

    Even though I make such videos, I myself rarely watch other creators' footage. I occasionally watch the bigger players in the walktuber scene to get inspiration and ideas regarding their film style, camera movement, choice of YouTube thumbnail etc. But I rarely watch them as entertainment.

    What places would you love to "experience" virtually, if not in person?

    Probably harsh environment locations which makes filming rather challenging (sub-zero temperatures, extreme wet weather etc).

    What do you like most about C4Urselves?

    That there is a group of people who are motivated about sharing the world with others.

    Would you recommend our website to other people? 

    Yes  

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  • Facebook, Cambridge Analytica… and Hippocrates

    Pixar’s Wall-E is one of the most prescient films you’ll ever see. Having literally trashed Planet Earth, humanity’s home is now a private company spaceship run by a HAL-like computer whose occupants have become so hooked on their comfortable, technology-dominated life that they’ve physically evolved to become practically incapable of even standing up.

    Digital technology has fundamentally, irreversibly changed the nature of our society.

    We instinctively know this to be true. But we also instinctively ignore the implications, because digital technology is just so… well, normal. Alexa is now just part of the family.

    More and more of our lives today is lived online, and shared with people across the globe. We use the web for information, for work, for curiosity, for escapism. We belong to virtual communities, and we share our experiences, our memories and our lives with people we’ve never met.

    This is in many ways a great thing. But it also raises a number of concerns, from how our personal data is used, to how algorithms do a lot more than just feed us targeted ads, to social media’s social impact - including shortening our attention-span and creating an “always on” culture of instant gratification.

    Much has already been written about how technology is dominating our lives, affecting our quality of life, eroding our privacy and changing our behaviour in ways we don’t fully understand, and this has come into sharp relief following the Facebook Cambridge Analytica scandal in particular.

    But technology can and should be very much a force for good.

    A reaction has already begun. We have learnt to appreciate the perils of the digital revolution. Communities of socially-conscious digital professionals and entrepreneurs are starting to get together under the banner of “humane tech”. The Centre for Humane Technology is a very exciting project, and I’m personally looking forward to reading Roger McNamee’s new book, Zucked.

    But this isn’t just something for digital geeks or entrepreneurs.

    Online communities like C4Urselves too have a role in ensuring that digital technology is both ethical and actually enhances our lives, instead of controlling them. Indeed, it is central to our entire ethos.

    We’re doing this in two steps:

    • First, do no harm. For us, that means avoiding the things which have started to take digital technology down a dark path, chief of which is an algorithm-driven model of increasingly insidious, targeted advertising. So we decided to break the mould, and rely entirely on partnerships and sponsorship from like-minded organisations which share our values. No algorithms, no targeted advertising.  
    • Second, actually do good. We want to encourage people to pause, slow down, look around - and notice things. Explore the world through someone else’s eyes. Rediscover things. Find beauty. Not amidst a jumble of clickbait, but through a single, ethical community dedicated to enhancing our experience of the world.

    We’re not destined to become a population of digital lotus-eaters. A different way is possible, one that puts technology back at the service of people, and the real world.

    But we’ve got to step up. Whether or not the digital world needs its own version of the Hippocratic Oath, what’s clear is that a Wild West approach to digital technology will no longer do. Digital technology today wields great power – and in the words of a famous celebrity, with great power comes great responsibility.

    It’s up to us, the digital generation, to recognise and embrace the many opportunities that technology affords us, and use them wisely.

    Today, technology risks dividing us. Let’s help people reconnect instead - with the world around us, and with each other.  

     

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  • Walking Videos - what's the big idea?

    "Not sure that’s a big idea” was actually my first reaction to the idea of walking videos. “Not much action”, “a bit slow”, “pretty ordinary” were all thoughts which sprang to mind.

    But not wanting to dismiss the idea out of hand, I thought I’d give it a go, very much helped by the fact that I was travelling in Asia and having many first-time experiences. So smartphone in hand, but as discreetly as possible, I began to capture shopping visits to the colourful food markets in Thailand, river boat trips in Japan and bike rides through Vietnamese rice paddy fields on video.

    I made two fairly instant revelations: that a couple of minutes is a very long time in the world of video and that filming would not be my future career. More importantly though and despite the extremely amateur quality, I also realised that the essence of a place or experience – be it the hustle and bustle of a market or the extreme tranquillity of the countryside - could be captured in a few precious seconds and THAT is what it was all about.

    Having got comfortable with taking them, sharing the videos was actually a relatively small step – the excitement of showing others what I had experienced far outweighed exposing my slightly wobbly camera style.   

    It was the different reactions that made me understand the true value of these brief videos.

    For me, watching them takes me back instantly to the moment - that brilliant day in that fascinating place with those engaging people….

    Family and friends back at home enjoyed having a window into that experience, seeing for themselves so to speak, and were curious to learn more (no doubt relieved that a few moving images saved them from a much lengthier verbal description).

    For those local to the video or who had had featured in it, there was a sense of pride, but also bemusement, that what for them was their everyday life was celebrated on film. But it almost invariably prompted the question “so what is it like where you live ? ”

    And that was a bit of an 'a-ha' moment – as I tried in vain to bridge the language gap and describe slices of life back home, I realised how useful it would be to have a short video to show them.

    So, fast forwarding a bit, my video taking habit has continued, blossomed even, since I got back home and I’ve tried to capture some of those simple things in my local area – a walk by the river, local markets & street food stalls – ordinary things for me, but perhaps different and out of the ordinary for some of those we met on our travels. I’ve done my best to share a few with friends we made, so they could see for themselves…

    I’ve also watched a lot more videos since I got back and they’ve helped me see a lot of new things and also different views of places I’ve been.

    So I’ve done a bit of a 180 and my initial caution has turned into true enthusiasm to encourage more video sharing, which is why I’m now writing this first blog on C4Urselves…my hope is that people all over the world will share their ordinary and everyday on video, and that others will watch and discover it is anything but ordinary to them.

    I’ve attached one of my first videos here…… I hope you enjoy it, but most of all I hope you’ll join us on this journey to celebrate the world.  

     

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