YouTube: https://youtube.com/watch?v=68Jx54WDMzQ
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View count:3,584
Likes:529
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Duration:03:59
Uploaded:2019-04-12
Last sync:2019-04-12 11:40
I certainly am not immune to imagining a narrative where one isn't, but the last thing we need to do is create a bunch of people who think they should righteously stand on the wrong side of the escalator and explain to other commuters that there's a Youtube video they really should watch.

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 Introduction


Good morning John, it's Friday!

And I think that we've all been in this situation at one point or another. I'm on the home screen of my YouTube app. YouTube shows me a thumbnail and then I'm on the desktop homepage and it shows it to me again. And then it's showing up as the auto play after Veritasium's video on black holes. 

YouTube really must think this video is right for me. And so you cave and you watch: The Unseen Inefficiency of Escalator Etiquette. And ugh, okay.

First the title, is fine. There is unseen inefficiency caused by escalator etiquette. The thumbnail and the video however are making a case: "the split is wrong". Is it though?

 Main points of the video


Let's go through the argument:

Escalators move all the time so they can carry far more people than elevators. This capacity is why we use them.

Point number 2: In cities there is an unspoken and sometimes explicit rule that you should stand on the right, so people can walk on the left.

Point number 3: The split decreases the carrying capacity of the escalator cause walkers take up more space than standers. And this is, somewhat surprisingly, true. It is the principal inefficiency in the unseen inefficiency of escalator etiquette. 

But then we have a bit of a leap. In the end, the video goes so far as to suggest that individuals start some kind of mass cultural protest: standing on the left and the right, in order to stop the menace of inefficient escalators. "And start the revolution."

Except that this didn't really seem right to me, and probably doesn't to a lot of other people because...  The problem that this video endeavors to solve with this mass cultural shift, is the problem of over capacity escalators. But escalators are almost never at capacity!

The Holborn station metro experiment in London: this was an escalator that was often at capacity. It's also a very long escalator, so most people choose to stand, leaving one side of the escalator almost entirely empty. And even in this situation, they only had standing on both sides during peak times.

In that situation, at that station, yes, it is better for everybody to stand. But in the vast majority of situations, escalators are nowhere near capacity because capacity is what escalators are so good at. 

 Summary of points


So to summarise the situation. "What's the right way to ride an escalator?" It depends! "This split isn't the best solution." Except when it is, which is almost all the time. 

The 2014 study cited in the video actually only recommends standing on both sides during emergencies. Which, by the way, you should stand on escalators during an emergency, especially if there are a lot of people behind you, two people per step, no running, no walking. That is good advice! But it's not advice that's going to get you YouTube clicks and ultimately that's why I'm making this dumb video right now.

 Hank's personal experience with media bias


 I've been writing professionally on the internet for a long time, like for scale, like, I started before Milly Bobby Brown existed. So I'm perfectly aware of the hoops that you can jump through to make something that is pretty interesting become, like, a righteous click. 

I run a media company. We talk all the time about how a Sci Show topic isn't good, unless it surprises people. The greatest bias in media isn't towards one side of a political spectrum or the other, it's toward interesting, tell-able stories. Cause that's the biggest bias our audience has.

Now am I saying that this escalator video was bad? Yes. But it was very close to not being bad. Inefficiency: absolutely. Start the revolution: no.  

This is the difficulty of being a creator or a media company in a world with, like, infinite content. We have to chase the interesting. So much so that sometimes we end up manufacturing the interesting. 

I could have picked a billion other videos, I'm aware of that. I chose this one as a fairly none controversial example. So I apologise to the person who made it because it was like a pretty well done video, it was very interesting. Lots of good facts. It manufactured some interesting that didn't exist. I have also been guilty of this, especially early in my blogging career.

The reason I'm making this video, is because like a lot of people: Crash Course, Dustin from Smarter Every Day, many many other people, are starting to realise that like, we need to be taking this stuff more seriously and paying attention to how our buttons are getting pushed by the content that we are enjoying and ingesting. Because, maybe, if we all start taking our clicks a little more seriously, we can "start the revolution". 

 Outro


John, I'll see you on Tuesday. John, thank you for your amazing video from Sierra Leone. I'm linking to it right here. Everybody needs to go watch this. That's all.