The Changing World

Folks, a lot of these “Fun Friday” posts point you to YouTube videos. There are a couple of reasons for that. First of all, my critical mind is amazed by YouTube. Amazed by the whole internet, to be honest. This is the largest repository of information the world has ever seen. YouTube is the largest visual library that has ever existed, and it’s growing at a seemingly impossible rate. Every day, about 82 years of video is uploaded to the service. Every day, users watch about a billion hours of video. For the most part this content is free or ad supported. Put a different way, the amount of video uploaded to YouTube every day is roughly equal to the total amount of visual content produced in the years 1955-1970. Every. Single. Day.

This doesn’t explain why YouTube keeps recommending the same six videos to me over and over, but that’s a topic for another article.

The other reason I’m in awe of YouTube is that it’s possible for regular folks to make money at it. I have some scorn for the “influencer” model where privileged young folks get money just for using products in online videos. but it works. What works even more is that everyone from regular folks to large corporations can include advertising easily and make some real cash doing stuff. And as a result you get some very interesting content.

Tip of the hat to “Mystery Scoop”

YouTuber Mystery Scoop brings my feed a steady diet of interesting visual content. It’s never political, it’s never controversial. A lot of it has to do with the world of the last century and the century before it. They show us realistic-looking colorized photos that bring the past into deep focus for us. They compare the world as it was to the world as we now know it.

Take a look at this video I’d like to feature, in which the same area is shown in then-and-now photos:

I’ll admit I’ve been a sucker for this sort of thing since I picked up a book called Boston: Then and Now back in the 1980s. That book seems to have gone out of print, but a similar one published in the 2010s is available, if you look. I also tend to watch this Reddit thread.

Our myopic view of life

What this video, that book, and that Reddit thread tell me, over and over, is that life has changed so much in such a short period of time. Even putting aside our planet’s billions of years in existence, we can look at the last 20,000 years or so of human civilization. For much of that, life went largely unchanged from generation to generation. And yet, from about 1860 to 2020 and beyond, the world has changed over and over.

It’s not super-comfortable to me to see “then and now” photos where the “then” is 1996 or later. A part of my mind, admittedly, thinks it might still be 1996, or at least that 1996 wasn’t that long ago. But the fact is that in 25 years, a lot of this world has changed massively. A lot hasn’t, but more of the civilized world looks different now than the parts that look the same. And that trend doesn’t seem like it’s going to change.

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 9,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.