He made a thing. This is what happened next.

posted by Jeff | Thursday, August 26, 2021, 11:22 PM | comments: 0

I've always enjoyed making stuff one would generally call "content," which I would call "media" before that Internet took off. Writing, video, audio, photographs and such. I've told the story before about how this enjoyment is what led to the creation of Guide to The Point then CoasterBuzz. In those early Internet days, or even when my programming book was released in 2005, stuff that was useful or of a certain quality would generally bubble up to the top.

I am notoriously critical of how much crap is on YouTube, but one of the excellent science guys recently explained why click bait works, though making some differentiation on what is legit, and what isn't. Now add in the algorithms of social media platforms, which we know are all about driving "engagement," and not so much leading you to the "best" or highest quality things. What's so crazy about this is that the Internet was supposed to level the playing field because fundamentally, anyone can put something online, all on the same Internet, but because we've become so reliant on these platforms, that's not actually what happens. None of this works quite as well as human curation does.

When I first started to publish stuff online, the only advantage that I really had was a first mover advantage. That probably doesn't matter as much in a niche content area, but it helped. I have stuff that endures while countless things have come and gone in 20 years. But trying to start something new is a daunting and unpleasant task. You have to play that click bait game, and worse, you have to "build a brand" in the social ecosystem, which again is intended to drive engagement, which to me smells like inauthenticity. As Derek, the Veritasium guy said, this is literally half of the work involved to run a popular YouTube channel. And the thing that I find even more distressing is that all of the people who have found traction are fully reliant on platforms that could disappear tomorrow, or decide that they're not going to distribute their content. That's horrifying.

I want to make things and put them on the Internet, but I have no interest in all of the above. I think it all sounds exhausting. That's a tough spot, because I could completely disregard all of that nonsense, but I do want someone to see what I've done. I made some videos at the beginning of the year, but I'm pretty sure only my friends have seen them. I don't care if they're good or not, it's just something I wanted to try. I want to try and do some others too, but I am uninterested in all of the bullshit to game the system to get clicks. I mean, I'm not posting these on YouTube because I think I can get to the subscriber and hour counts, I post them there because it's where the people are. Otherwise, I'd be happy to pay Vimeo to put them on their service.

At this point, I have to resolve that I'll put new things online mostly for my own amusement. If I reach a certain bar of quality, that will be nice, but I can't expect the quality to result in clicks. The rest just doesn't seem fun.


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