750 Words… | January 2016 Update

The year began on a family holiday in Malta. Getting a cheaper flight from Rome to Istanbul meant waiting a couple days after the new year, so I holed up in a hostel by the Termini train station in Rome. This time was spent working, and occasionally leaving to check out a forum or to eat some of the Asian food which is surprisingly hard to find in Istanbul. I was sharing the hostel with my sister, who made a tremendously useful suggestion. As a sort of joint resolution we undertook to write 750 words a day, every day. This has had a fairly revolutionary effect on my productivity this year. Every day I have to write something. Sometimes I really don’t want to do it, but I often get it done. My performance hasn’t been flawless. Five months into the year I’m about a month behind, but I do it more often than not. This has yielded some great videos, a lot of progress on new essays, and the fact that I finally seem to be catching up on these blog posts. It’s a great thing all around.

Finally having an apartment of my own again is fricking fantastic. It made for some healthier living, and allowed me to produce seven videos in January, some of which were quite ambitious. The first video of the year was “The BBC Is Full of It 2 | Chinese Aircraft Carriers“. I like this video. There’s not much to it, but it deals with the format cleverly. I like the acting out of the internal monologue. I also like the turn-around time. I saw the headline, it matched nicely with the previous video complaining about the BBC, and I was able to quickly bang it out. The joys of that speedy Malta internet. “3 Awesome Things Happening in 2016, Cuba, Colombia and Iran” is an attempt at a positive list video that hasn’t gone very far. It reminds me how far behind I am on these contemplated Syria videos. I wanted to do something positive before producing them, but five months later I still haven’t gotten them out yet. Argh!

Iran V. Saudi Arabia, the One Thing You Need To Know…” was the first video produced in my new bedroom, ahem, I mean studio. I’ve gotten better at these set-ups, but I think this one comes out alright. The mix between animation and on-camera is one that I like, but a mix that I haven’t quite perfected yet. “Watch Me DESTROY Donald Trump’s Campaign Ad” does exactly what it says it does. It is amazing how little this man is offering to the American people, especially his supporters.

The next week featured what is perhaps my favorite one-two punch ever. “Why Do Terrorists Kill People” was my first attempt at filming something on location. The sound is awful, but I really like the way my visit to the scene of an Istanbul suicide bombing works. It was also a nice fraught introduction to a sad fact of journalism: “Oh Look, an atrocity! Let’s find a way to look cool in front of it!” The next day I followed it up with “Why the Cold War Must Be Remembered” one of my favorite videos ever. I’m a huge history dork, and I’m quite proud of what I’ve accomplished here. In seven or so minutes I tell the story of the Cold War, and argue why it’s so important to study it. The next week I got even more ambitious, attempting to put together a video that told the entire post World War II story of the oil industry. I failed to produce that video in January. That Tuesday I was mucking about with After Effects when the power went out. So I decided to bang out “Why Bloomberg For President Should Make You Happy“, with a speed that should be pretty apparent in the production. I kind of like the Chiaroscuro effect forced by the candle light though.

Looking at these videos, it’s pretty clear that I’ve switched to longer ones over the past couple months. I think this may be a side effect of the 750 word pledge. I traditionally aimed for under 500 words a video, but now I aim for 750 to make my quota. This has upsides and downsides. YouTube now prioritizes watch time over views. They are obviously both still important, but this means YouTube likes longer videos. Does that mean that my content is less likely to be clicked on because of its longer times? Probably. It also make for less disciplined videos. Reviewing videos from this month, and from previous years, I’m sometimes kind of amazed by the amount of stuff I manage to cram into three minute running times. Something to consider.

Views continued their upward trend in January 2016, up to 16,224 from 13,939 in December. None of the top five, and three of the top ten videos in January were produced in January. Two of the seven videos crossed 100 views on their first day. Five months later, all seven have topped 200 views, and of those four have also topped 300. At the end of January 2016 we had 142 videos, all but four of which were viewed in January, 70 of which were viewed 10 or more times, 22 of which were viewed more than 100 times, and four of which were viewed more than 1,000 times (FATCA, John Oliver, Hillary Clinton, Putin-Estonia).

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