Video tutorials suck – most of the time, or – the bow tie

For a long time the Internet was a veritable treasure trove of howtos and tutorials; this is people (mostly) selflessly sharing the stuff that’d taken them a lot to learn, in order to benefit the crowds. Philosophically, this has a lot to do with the Free Software movement. Most people wouldn’t realize it, but the “share freely” idea is what has propelled pieces of software such as Linux or Firefox to their current positions.

I digress. However, at some point, someone decided that a) the Internet was now fast enough to carry video, and b) people were too stupid to read and follow instructions. This brought about the unfortunate appearance of video tutorials. I usually rant against these, as I can still read faster than I can watch a video, where some random dude takes me step by step at their own pace (intead of at mine). Video tutorials also suck when you need some quick, compact piece of reference material to “refresh” your knowledge about a procedure, which would be better served by a 2-kb piece of text, instead of a 10-mb, 5-minute video.

Still, I must admit there are instances where a video tutorial makes the most sense; some steps in procedures are, indeed, better explained by following the actual action (and perhaps having a narrator telling you what the hell is going on).

I recently found myself needing to learn how to tie a bowtie. None of the text tutorials helped, no matter how well-written or illustrated they were. There is ONE crucial step that basically necessitates a video for you to understand it. I spent 40 minutes wrestling with the text-and-pictures instructions. The video made it clear in under a minute.

So, without further ado, if you EVER need to learn how to tie a bow tie, don’t bother with anything else: these three videos will show you how it’s done.

The first is the one that best explains the CRUCIAL step of “finding the hole”.

The second one goes into a bit more detail, I hate this guy who says “go ahead and” all the time, but his explanations are good.

The final one is hilarious from the way the woman “handles” his male-model, but it’s also instructional and explains the crucial step adequately.


“To its devotees the bow tie suggests iconoclasm of an Old World sort, a fusty adherence to a contrarian point of view. The bow tie hints at intellectualism, real or feigned, and sometimes suggests technical acumen, perhaps because it is so hard to tie. Bow ties are worn by magicians, country doctors, lawyers and professors and by people hoping to look like the above. But perhaps most of all, wearing a bow tie is a way of broadcasting an aggressive lack of concern for what other people think.”
—Warren St John, The New York Times