Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Push vs. Pull

For those of you who don't know, I have been sharing videos back and forth with my sister on YouTube since the end of March of this year. Our YouTube channel is called +Attrell Update, and I bring it up for two reasons, maybe even three (we'll see how far I get).

Point 1: Push vs. pull updating

First, and most importantly, I have found the experience of making videos with my sister as the intended audience REALLY makes it a lot easier to share cool stuff I learn or know on the internet. The videos are for everybody, and it has the added bonus of letting both of us share what we know with eachother even though we live 4000 km apart (and she was even further away in France until June). The crazy thing to me, though, is that I am learning what people like, and what people are interested in. I have taken to spreading news about my own life in these videos and only telling maybe 1-2 other people offline. The result is that I get a good view of who is paying attention to what I'm doing online. The fact that only a millionth of one percent of people on Earth apparently care what I have to talk about on a weekly basis doesn't surprise me, but I'm just getting started!

The bigger point of all of this is that our world (at least when I was growing up) was a pull-based society. What I mean by that is that when the internet first really started to take hold socially, if you wanted to see something online, you went to a website and looked at it. There were sites and RSS readers (like the now-defunct Google Reader) that would gather and sometimes organize your personal reading list, but for the most part you had to go to the internet and PULL things off to see/read/watch/listen to. Now, in 2014, with the world faces glued endlessly to their phone screens, we are being trained to wait for content to be PUSHed to us. As somebody who is trying various different media ventures to see what sticks (+Future Chat, Ottawhat? Podcast, the aforementioned +Attrell Update, working on web design and video production for +Sons of Pluto) just to name a few, this PUSHing is really annoying to deal with, because there are people in my life who are interested in what I'm working on who might not be as technologically savvy as me, and they actually have difficulty finding out when things I'm doing are available to be consumed.

As somebody who is trying to do a LOT with media, but who is so far without external funding (and doing as much as I can for free), this is pretty disheartening.

Point 2: Commitment

This brings me to the second point, which is about the nature of humans to look for patterns. Since starting the ventures I mentioned above, I have been doing everything in my power to work under a paradigm where people can EXPECT updates to arrive at a certain time. For instance:
  • Ottawhat: Released every week on Thursday AM.
  • Attrell Update: Steph (my sister) releases a video on Monday (previously Wednesday), I make one on Thursday (previously Friday).
  • Future Chat: New live episode every Saturday at 12:30 PM.
Now, there is no "punishment" or losing my job if any of these things don't happen, but since the inception of all of the above projects, I haven't missed a week yet. But even still, I haven't crossed the personal threshold of converting any of these to content I post because anybody expects them. While I say that people can expect episodes on the days described above, nobody has any stake in the successes of the projects, not even me. I have a job that I work 9-5 (actually 7-3), and so if all of these endeavors fizzle out, or never gain any audience, I won't really have lost anything. 

The unfortunate thing about THAT is that because the stakes are so low, it actually makes it easier to not take these projects seriously, even for myself. But I do want to take them seriously, but I actually find it very rewarding to put all of this effort into doing things I love, and what I love is writing, producing, and every aspect of the science and technology fields. It would be a dream come true if I could earn a living income learning about science and tech, and I would gladly put in more than 40 hours a week (and I do) to see these tasks through. 

I've considered the possibility of crowd-funding or seeking advertisers for some of these projects, but as of yet I've done everything I can to fund these goals either by learning how to do something myself for free, or by using my technical savvy to solve problems with the help of free online services. My ultimate "first-step" goal would be to purchase a camcorder, my combination of mid-range webcam and DSLR woefully under-deliver where I need them most for ongoing projects.

Please drop me a line if you think this is a good idea, I think having other people (and especially strangers) put a stake in my success would really light a fire under me to be sure I see my goals through. That being said, either way I do intend to get a camcorder once I can be assured my outstanding student debt can be paid off in a reasonable amount of time.

Point #3: My Ultimate Goal

I think that at the intersection of science and technology, there is something powerful that drives world progress, and that is why my work in those fields is so important to me personally. The self-correcting nature of science and the way rationality and logic prevail in the scientific domains really draw me to them as a way to solve the ills of the world. Through discussion of innovative technology and using science in new and creative ways, we can really make changing the world as easy as possible.

In essence, what I'm trying to do is get experience talking about science and technology, and creating opportunities for myself to get my name out there talking about what I love. In terms of the percentage of world population, it is a really great time to be alive. My role models are people who have broken through the barrier of only reaching a small audience, and who use their public platforms to fight inequality in the world. Issues like sex and gender discrimination, income inequality, infectious disease, institutional racism and a culture of glorified violence are just a few of the divisive topics whose handling by our culture will define those alive today in the history books. 

If I can play even a small part in bringing the world up to a minimum humane level of treatment of all the people on Earth, I will have accomplished my goals.