The Wadsworth Constant

“To determine is a video is worth watching, skip a third of the way into it and you can see if it’s worth watching. If it’s not interesting then, it won’t be for the rest of the video.”

My informant says this rule, which he knows as the Wadsworth Constant, applies “to any internet videos, like Youtube videos or Vimeo videos”. He learned the rule from Reddit, the self-proclaimed “front page of the Internet” that aggregates and ranks user-submitted content. He discovered the Wadsworth Constant about a year ago, when he had it described to him by another Reddit user, though he believes it has existed in this form “for a while”.



At first this rule might seem absurd to anyone who has a basic understanding of the sort of video content popular on the internet. Most internet videos are not very long, perhaps only a few minutes, and shorter videos are often spread around more than longer ones. With content that’s already so short, it seems unnecessary to find shortcuts for determining the worth of this kind of content. A rule like this could only come from a community that places a premium on time, and ponders the value of the content the consume in this limited time seriously.

It’s telling that my informant first learned of the Wadsworth Constant on Reddit, a page with hundreds and thousands of entries, all vying for a user’s time and attention, adding hundreds more every hour. As “the front page of the internet”, the side acts as a metaphor for the internet as a whole, as this place where millions of different things draw our attention, and it is literally impossible to view every one. The Wadsworth Constant, as it has been developed, tries to stymy the paralysis that could overwhelm one when trying to view all this content. With time held at a premium, internet users want to make sure they are using their time to the fullest, even when just watching internet videos.