TikTok? YouTube Shorts? Instagram Reels? These short video ideas are fine and dandy, but what the people really clamor for is un-skippable mandatory long videos!


In the early 2020s, the appeal of short (< 1 minute) videos became widespread, with TikTok, YouTube Shorts, Instagram Reels, and other services vying for market share. (Surprisingly, the earliest major entrant into this genre, Vine (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vine_(service)), completely failed and was shut down in 2017).

The Issue:

Unfortunately, the popularity of “bite-sized” videos has caused people [who?] to become concerned [citation needed] that the attention spans of the nation’s citizens are getting shorter and shorter.

At the current rate, a person who was once able to easily listen attentively to an entire Feynman physics lecture will now barely be able to sit through half of a 30-second video montage of obese dogs rolling down stairs.


We do not propose to deny users the pleasure of watching dogs roll down stairs: instead, we will simply lock this “dessert” behind the “eat your vegetables” of a longer (and more plausibly educational) video.

The process is simple: after the user has watched enough “dumb” videos, their account is forbidden from watching any more videos until they have watched something long from the “educational” list (Figure 1).

Fig. 1: The user would love to watch “All Horse Jokes” or “Ghost Time” (bottom right), but unfortunately they need to watch another 1 hour and 27 minutes of “Algebra: A History” before their account is unlocked.

The use of sophisticated and intrusive 1984-esque tracking software (or maybe a quiz?) will ensure that the user actually watches the video.


This is a great idea, or at least isn’t any worse than Quibi (which cost 2 billion dollars), Vine (which somehow failed despite being TikTok before TikTok was invented), or PlayStation Vue. The existence of these (and other) well-funded failures thus proves that this idea is, in fact, actually good.

PROS: Might increase the attention span of the citizenry, thus leading to important civic achievements.

CONS: It could be hard to convince people to use a video hosting service with this degree of behavioral micromanagement.