Why TikTok is all the rage?

Excerpt from the NYTimes.com Tech, June 2020

(See) an incredible watermelon carving, there are scenes of the protests against the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, and a history lesson on the 1921 massacre of residents of a black neighborhood in Tulsa.

It’s also the first time that Americans have had to consider that U.S. companies might not always rule the internet. There’s a lot of importance wrapped in a (mostly) goofy app.

Last month, a reader named Richard wrote us asking, “Can you explain why TikTok is all the rage?”

Well, the magic is TikTok makes it easy to be creative and to watch others’ best work. A 60-second limit on videos means users don’t need to create much filler, and there’s often a common thread with many videos set to the same song or riffing on a “challenge” like cleaning mirrors.

You don’t need to search or know whom to watch. (But that is also why TikTok can operate like a bubble. I might see Black Lives Matter videos, while you might see only celebrities dancing.)

TikTok does have many of the familiar internet problems like overreach of data collection, stalking and harmful misinformation.

A phone tripod. My wife occasionally posts cooking videos to demonstrate her recipes, and this tiny $20 phone tripod fits nicely on the kitchen counter while holding the smartphone stable at different angles. That beats spending $300 to $400 on a GoPro camera.

A work light. Professional photographers spend hundreds of dollars on light kits. You know what else works great? A $20 work light from the hardware store. These powerful lights were designed for outdoor construction, but they do a miraculous job at lighting for indoor photography.The light is very harsh, though. To diffuse it, I tape a piece of parchment paper over the light’s metal grill.

A good photo-editing app. There are plenty of cheap photo and video editing apps to do touch-ups before posting. VSCO charges for special filters and editing tools, but the free basic features will get you one small step closer.