Razib Khan One-stop-shopping for all of my content

March 27, 2017

It doesn’t get better, blogging vs. YouTube and Twitter

Filed under: Blogging,Culture — Razib Khan @ 10:48 pm

Many of you know I use Twitter. It’s replaced a lot of the “link posts” I might have done in the early 2000s or so. Some have argued that Twitter cannibalized a lot of blogging, and that seems true. And that hasn’t always been for the good…there are some arguments and discussions which don’t work well on Twitter. There have been many Twitter misunderstandings which simply wouldn’t have happened in the blogging format, because of the artificiality of Twitter strips context.

Until recently I didn’t much pay attention to YouTube except for movie trailers and Games of Thrones stuff. Oh, and How it Should Have Ended. Any other YouTube I probably just found via a share on Facebook and Twitter.

But of late I have been watching some YouTube channels. I was prompted partly by the fact that after the hit piece came out on me about my incredible influence on the alt-right someone emailed me to explain that in fact the most influential people on the alt-right were on YouTube, where they spread interpretations of genetics congenial to their racialist worldview. Honestly I didn’t watch these channels for very long because:

Fathering the next generation of white non-whites

1) I don’t need genetics lectures.

2) I don’t need primers on Western history.

3) I am not concerned about white genocide, I am white genocide.

Rather, I found a channel called The Rubin Report, which had come recommended to me by my friend Sarah Haider. I agreed with the host, Dave Rubin, on most issues, and often disagreed with his guests. It made for reasonably compelling listening (I rarely watch really, but treat this stuff like a podcast). He also introduced me to a lot of different vloggers. Among the people he interviewed was someone called Roaming Millennial, an early 20s Eurasian Canadian woman with broadly center-right/classical liberal views.

I don’t mean to spotlight her, but her channel illustrates three facts:

1) Relatively short, pithy, commentaries.

2) A huge number of views.

3) Many of these vloggers are “TV-friendly” in their appearance.

Comparing traffic can be hard across years and platforms, so I’ll focus on the first and last issue. When it comes to the early generation of bloggers there are plenty who became famous on pithy quick links. But there were also long-form essayists and commenters. To give one example, Cosma Shalizi’s posts on IQ were extensively linked for many years because of their thoroughness and depth (obviously few people read everything or understood much, but the posts were there, and many at least skimmed a fair amount).

These sorts of discursive commentaries are not really possible on YouTube. From what I can tell when vloggers allow themselves to go more than 20 minutes on a single topic they start to ramble, repeat themselves, and get boring. You can’t engage in extemporaneous speaking for too long and sound like you have your shit together. The data density of blogging is potentially much higher than vlogging.

The third issue…. Many bloggers had a face for radio, and a voice for silent film. The extremely popular liberal blogger Steve Gilliard was morbidly obese, and died of illnesses related to his weight issues. But his appearance was not a big deal when he began blogging. Many of the early bloggers concealed many details of their private life, let alone their image. Similarly, a lion of the warblogging cohort, Steve Den Beste, looked to be out of central casting for “middle aged software/anime nerd.” But Den Beste became hugely influential before his retirement from blogging, which was partly triggered by health issues.

Obviously things aren’t that different. There was television in the 2000s. And many webforums existed which had a Twitter-like feel. But they are different nevertheless. Someone like Roaming Millennial could have made it on TV, but there are only so many spots for non-blondes at Fox, and in any case she speaks at a higher level of analysis than what you see in talking heads. There are many more of these vloggers than there would ever have been slots on television. This is a whole new information universe, and it’s different.

A the end of the day it makes me appreciate text, and blogging. There are newer technologies, but they aren’t better.

September 5, 2012

On being a pundit

Filed under: Blog,Blogging — Razib Khan @ 9:51 pm

Back the summer of 2002 I recall a friend of mine telling me, “so you’re a pundit now!” I’d been blogging for a few months, and I didn’t feel like a pundit, whatever that meant. ~10 years on I guess I am a pundit. In that vein I was discussing with a friend what it took “to be a blogger” (they wanted to get into the game). First, blogger is a rather expansive category. I have no idea what one would need to do to be a food blogger beyond any old person off the street. But I do know how to be what I am. I focus on three things:

* Precision
* Accuracy
* Novelty

And exactly in that order. It’s of the essence you say what you mean to say. Confusions will still occur, but you can mitigate it by trying to be precise. Accuracy is important, but not as important. That’s because I don’t know everything very well. I’m going to be wrong a lot of the time. I know what I think I know, and so can be precise in my description, but I don’t know what I don’t know, and can only do my best in ...

September 16, 2010

Discover Blogs, a voice for the Other 85%

Filed under: Blog,Blogging — Razib Khan @ 11:04 am

BoyBlogs1 (1)Today I was curious what people thought of Wired Science Blogs. More honestly, I was really trying to see if anyone else was a little put off by the forced registration to comment. But in the process I ran into this post, In which I notice a trend. The author did some counting before talking, which is always something I respect. Now, I suspect if you have read me closely over the years you can tell I’m not too worked up over lack of proportionality in the science blogosphere, whether it be of sex, race, ethnicity, religion (or irreligion) or politics. I say this as a Right-leaning brown-skinned male who was once termed “the black science blogger” at ScienceBlogs.

But can Discover Blogs get some props here? Once they swap out the DNA logo and put in my head shot it will be clear that we’re much more ethnically diverse here than at the other “celebrity” blog networks! N = 2 far beats out N = 0. And Wired Science Blogs even has a guy blogging for them who has the same surname as Lou Dobbs! How’s that for insensitive, I’m a naturalized American citizen (and look at this title, it makes me feel unsafe on the web! What’s he trying to say?).

Rest assured, Ed Yong and I are here to give voice to the 85% of humanity which is not of European descent, and, love to write about natural science. You can call us the Chindia of science blogging.*

(and Jeremy Jaquot of Science Not Fiction is half-Asian I believe)

* Indians will object because I was not born in India. Get over it, we all look to the same to everyone else.

September 15, 2010

The seeds of another science blogging network

Filed under: Blog,Blogging — Razib Khan @ 8:42 am

Alert! Some Big And Important And Exciting News!:

So yes, I will be working with the Scientific American editors and staff in conceptualizing, building, launching and then running a new science blogging network. How could I say No when given such a chance? To do what I love and what I think I can do well, and all of that under the banner of a magazine that was published continuously since 1845.

August 24, 2010

The oldest science blog of all?

Filed under: Blog,Blogging — Razib Khan @ 2:16 am

800px-Bristlecone_CAI began blogging in April 2002 (I once had a graduate student approach me and tell me that she was a big fan of my blog back in high school!). Derek Lowe is the only science blogger I can think of off the top of my head who was around before I was, is still around, and has been around continuously across all those years. The mildly unbalanced Dave Appell left the scene to clear his head for a few years. In those early days a term like ’science blogger’ would have seemed kind of quaint and strange, but I do recall being approached by others to rebut the naive Creationism of some parts of the blogosphere. It was early days, and the big division was between the older cohort of techbloggers who had emerged organically before 9/11, and the political blogosphere which rapidly crystallized in the months after that event.

But in any case, Chad Orzel’s asking straight up, who’s the oldest science blogger? My money is on Derek, but I’m no Bora Zivkovic, so I could be wrong.

Image Credit: Wikimedia

April 6, 2010

The growth of ScienceBlogs & science blogs

Filed under: Blog,Blogging,ScienceBlogs — Razib Khan @ 7:11 pm

sbgrowthScienceBlogsTM just put out a release on their traffic growth. The trend is interesting because after a period of flattening out, 2008-2010 seems to have seen some robust growth again. As I said when I left I do wish SB and many of their bloggers well, and I continue to subscribe to several of their blogs in my RSS as well as the select feed. The network’s robust growth is a positive sign when it comes to the transition of science communication from dead tree to the internet. I know that there’s been a lot of stress on the part of science journalists as to the sustainability of their enterprise, though that is really just a domain-specific instantiation of the issues in journalism as a whole, but until that works itself out the growth and persistence of science blogging and science-related websites is a good thing. There is a calm after the storm of creative-destruction, and the current science blogosphere is laying the seedbed for future renewal. The outcome may be sub-optimal from the viewpoint of labor, but the consumer will benefit.

The growth of internet based science communication means that the pie is growing, and the tide is rising. It isn’t a zero-sum game between SB, Nature Networks, Scientific Blogging, Discover Blogs, etc. My main concern personally is that my readership is still strongly Anglospheric, literally hundreds of millions of Chinese have started using the internet while I’ve been blogging, but very few of them do and can read my content. Due to language constraints this may be a long term structural issue, though the utilization of Google translate + chart heavy posts may be a way to push beyond the Anglosphere a bit. If you want to see the geographic skew, sitemeter is sufficient even with a sample size of the last 100 visitors.

Note: Also, please note that the growth can’t be attributed only to non-science content. Obviously I can’t lay out specific numbers, but blogs which focus on science such as Tetrapod Zoology and Frontal Cortex draw lots of traffic.

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