Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Communication with YouTube

YouTube is this amazing gift to anyone who wants to convey good ideas.  It's free.  It has reasonable rules for using it.  It has evolved over time and now allows high-def postings and keeps amazing statistics.  Because it facilitates communication with pictures, it crosses language barriers.  Did I mention it's free?

I had a neighbor in the 1960s who was a member of the Socialist Worker's Party.  He spent his days trying to sell subscriptions to their paper.  I seriously doubt he sold more than 300 subscriptions during the time I knew him.  So that is how the party justified its existence--it spent its energy putting out the good word and figuring out how to pay for "educating the masses."  That's it!  That is all these activists accomplished.

So now the cost of production and distribution of "the good word" has dropped to near zero--no need to sell subscriptions to pay the printers.  Now what?  The new competition is over eyeballs--how do you find an audience for your masterpieces when they have a near-infinity of choices.

That's where those amazing statistical insights are so helpful.  Let me explain what I discovered.  My first, and by far my biggest YouTube hit was something of an accident.  I was living close to a small Lutheran liberal arts college in Northfield Minnesota named St. Olaf.  They decided to erect a wind turbine to help power their campus and as an example of their Lutheran virtue--Jesus wants you to use renewable energy because that is another way to demonstrate that you are good stewards of God's gifts, ya know.  The chaplain blessed the venture from the pulpit of the campus chapel.  This event was walking distance from the house where I was living.  I had a video camera.  I was NOT going to miss this.

It turned out that there was a LOT of time spent waiting for something to happen.  There were a limited number of good camera locations so I spent much of the time with this very handsome fellow from the campus media lab.  He was amazingly polite to me as an old guy and had this never-ending stream beautiful sophomores who would gather around to flutter.  What's not to like about that?  And then there were these devoted retired alumni whose science-based careers had started as math majors at St. Olaf.  The spectator chatter was electrical-engineer informed.

I shot video over five days.  Loaded it into my computer, selected the most "action-packed" footage, and strung it together in the order the footage was shot.  Because St Olaf has this amazing music department, I chose a cut from an old choir CD.  Because a Danish turbine was being built on a campus known for its Norwegian traditions, I found some Nordic music and filled out the rest of the soundtrack.  The editing was, shall we say, casual.  The advantage was it was quick.  I had it up within a few days after the blades had been hung.  I was only intending to show what happened to my neighbors who couldn't be there.  I never expected this long-term "hit."  So here's the video.

The video's name is "building a wind turbine", and as you see, it has almost 315,000 views.  Not bad for a 10-minute video.  The success comes from informative footage--not from whiz-bang editing and a thumping soundtrack.  (Just yesterday, I got a request for a DVD version from Costa Rica from guys trying to promote a wind development.  Windpower may not be as reliable as coal for base load but at least it works!

The "beauty of windpower" was just a collage of wind turbine videos I had shot over time.  Like many sequels, it has not done as well.  (I still like it.)

breakdown of building a windturbine stats

Wind energy is especially popular with middle aged males--probably because they have been around the costs and problems of energy to really want an alternative.

The era of high-def YouTube is certainly welcome to those of us who were distressed by what happens to our footage on the way to YouTube central.  But high-def, by itself, does not insure an audience.

But even here, there is a little success in "corn belt harvest."  I attribute that to good quality--informative footage and a Beethoven soundtrack.  Note that all three were posted on the same day.  An ag hit seems to top out at 25,000 so it has some room to go.

Some interesting notes from the view counter.

  • 1) The original bump comes from being on a page for new uploads.
  • 2) This peak came when the clip was embedded in a web page hosted by the small town where it was shot.
  • 3) The doldrums--folk do not think much about the harvest in June
  • 4) Folks DO get excited about the harvest in late summer

One other thing.  YouTube is pretty good at presenting fairly complex ideas.  "Understanding class" (see stats above) has over 5000 views and it is on the subject of Veblenian Institutional Class Analysis.  It is also in serious need of an update.  For an assortment of reasons, this new class analysis will be illustrated using new software.  I am getting a bit old to learn new 3d software but the preliminary results look promising.

And then there is my attempt at summarizing my economic beliefs as they relate to the construction of a "green" society.  Not the hit I had hoped for but it does get watched and occasionally provokes a thoughtful responses.

No comments:

Post a Comment