Happy Towel Day!

What is the answer to life, the universe, and everything? Well, before we get to that we should maybe revise our question. Science is all about asking questions, after all, and it requires some practice.

Every May 25th people around the world celebrate the life and work of Douglas Adams, one of my favourite authors, and the writer of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. This day is called Towel Day, since as the guide will tell you, a towel is one of the most massively useful things an interstellar hitchhiker can have.

The Scope of Science is One Year Old!

Just like that, its been over a year that I’ve been running this blog. Time flies when you’re orbiting the sun!

When I started this blog I wasn’t sure what, if anything, would come out of The Scope of Science. I started it because I knew blogging and making videos was something that I enjoyed. I missed it.

Warning brutal honesty ahead
…and some rambling…

You see, I used to make videos in high-school and I thought it was a lot of fun. I got a lot of positive feedback about them, which I originally found really encouraging. I made one video in particular, where my reflection chased me through my dreams. It won an award in Toronto, and I became known to most people in my high-school as ‘the guy from that video on the internet‘. While this was great in a bunch of ways it also became a bit intimidating. I didn’t want to be the guy from ‘that’ video, I wanted to make other videos too, but now some dumb luck had set the bar higher than where I minded it to be.

I had started that first channel as a place to put the videos that I was making for fun, and I stopped making videos when it stopped being fun. It stopped being fun not because I lost interest in making videos, but because I had unintentionally shifted my measure of success. All of the sudden, I considered my video to be successful mostly if it got views and/or won something, not if it was fun to make.

Several years past, my undergrad education came and went, and I wasn’t making videos or blogging (except for a stint on a science blog I titled ‘the Meme Beam’). It was something I definitely planned to do, later, when I had time. The infinite tomorrow.

Then I remember hearing the following advice by Veritasium: “If you think that you’re being restricted by time or money or by equipment you are just fooling yourself and you need to get out there and just start making stuff”

And I thought, dammit, I have to start blogging and making videos again.

My first year back at it has been a lot of fun, and that is now officially my 8th rule of making videos: the video must be fun to make. I figure if its fun for you to make, it might be fun for people to watch – but either way, I’ll have had fun.

I do still feel like views matter a bit, since the point of science education is for viewers to learn something and this is hard to accomplish without viewers. But it just isn’t a healthy or sustainable measure of success. View-counts: its a love hate relationship.

I’m rambling about all of this now because I feel I’ve reached a turning point in two ways. 1) The majority of views I’ve had on YouTube are now from my newer channel. My old channel has over 5000 total views since I started it way back in 2007. I started The Scope of Science channel about nine months ago, and it already has more total views than my old channel. 2) I’m having fun making videos again, and I consider that to be the real success.

View-count by country
Scope of Science blog view-count by country

Also, as much as I love data, I won’t bore you with a bunch of site statistics, except to say that the blog has now had over 12,500 views from 196 countries, which is a many multitude more than what I expected when I started this a year ago. What is more fun to talk about is that some of those readers got to my site in hilarious ways.

Whether or not you’re aware of this, when you search something in Google and click on a link, the link you click learns what search term brought you to their site. For example, I know that a lot of people got to my site by searching ‘scope of science’. That is predictable, and rather bland, but some interesting people got to my site thanks to the following searches:

“Graphs pertinent to high schoolers” – I like to imagine this was searched by some high school student who wanted to cram for a test but had no idea how.

Graphs pertinent to
Clearly this is the data I need to show if I want more views

“Hollywood movie based on plutonium stolen” – guess that brings you here.

“Chicken scope” – why did someone search that? Really, I’ve brainstormed and am at a loss.. Please leave your creative ideas in the comments!

* * *

So with that, readers, I’d like to just say thanks for all of your support over the last year. It’s been fun for me. I know it would not have been as much fun without you, and I hope it has brought you some happiness too.