The Challenge of Content

This is a video about three things: cleaning, curves, and content.

Content is a catch-all term for media distributed through online platforms. Many popular websites are now shared spaces that essentially serve other people’s stuff. It’s a two-way relationship: people publish where there are eyeball and readers don’t want to miss out on where everything is happening.

These spaces’ allure comes from how they constantly serve something fresh, media whose popularity generally follows a power law probability distribution. In fact, if you graph the views for each of my videos on this channel by the end of 2014 sorted by rank, the distribution pretty closely matches Zipf’s law, the value of the maximum divided by the rank.

This makes me ponder a question: if the most popular content will always outstrip their peers, how do I view the rest?

Is this content just accumulated junk in need of an occasional cleaning or something more? It’s easy to see them as failures, unable to reach the success of my top work. Then again, I didn’t see them that way when I created, packaged, and delivered them.

Part of the challenge of creating any kind of content, then, is accepting a good portion of your work simply won’t live up to your highlights. I think the key is to give it your best effort anyways.

With experience, we get better at things. At a certain point; however, the returns diminish. The hard thing about learning is you don’t know what the curve looks like, nor do you know your location on it.

There are thus two ways to judge your ability. Either you compare it to the rest of your work or you compare it to what your peers are doing. This is where it’s important to be careful: it can be unhealthy to lean too far one way or another.

The pleasant takeaway from all this, nonetheless, is if you are getting better, what you make will improve as well.