Over the past few weeks, I have spent considerable time reaching out to people who create exceptional content on YouTube or Twitter. They represent my fringe interests-Indian Film Industry, Defence/Geopolitics/Indic History and Knowledge Systems, and changing technological contours. I managed to get most of them to open up their respective Telegram channels. In the course of discussion, after interaction, I realised the following: (These only represent generalisations)
- It is incredibly difficult to break workflow habits. Most are domain experts and have a passing familiarity with technology. Though, it took me considerable time (and they banked on my credibility) to consider an alternative.
- It is difficult to explain to people about owning your content and platform. Essentially, while YouTube “monetises” your content, they earn more value with content creators, rather than the other way around. This relationship is highly asymmetric and in realistic terms represents an exploitative role of Google. You are giving away significant chunks of time to a vast majority of users who consume content passively. They offer minuscule benefit in terms of adding to your larger goals of personal enrichment.
- There are numerous “channels” offering content on similar lines, with a familiar pattern of “panellists” and vying for the same chunk of the audience numbers. Human attention span is finite, with fleeting time spans. It is unlikely that most videos are consumed in their entirety.
- Creating content doesn’t create the habit of long-termism; thinking in terms of decadal approaches or “long-term”. I agree this requires “research” to ask questions to panellists, but it is difficult to recall its inherent value. I still prefer reading (and writing) extensively. I listen to the content to fill up specific gaps in my knowledge.
I have a clear position against Social Media. I am opposed to YouTube/Twitter, and while I rave about Telegram, it is only for its technological merits. Telegram has two main advantages:
- Data export is feasible from Telegram Desktop; so in effect, you retain control over your content in perpetuity.
- Telegram is a platform, and bots serve as extensions; effectively allowing you to automate your content consumption. As the channels display information without algorithms, you don’t have to set up reminders for “pressing the bell icon”. YouTube (and other applications) have dark patterns for notifications and are notoriously unreliable; as an aside, most content creators are missing out on the most valuable asset – actual viewership numbers.
What did I gain in the process? Well, I added to my knowledge pools. Here’s what I learned:
- Building up credibility is a complex process. One has to demonstrate value to another individual; especially, because I am creating Telegram channels for free. (I pay for IFTTT for my specific needs; I can scale up building any number of Telegram channels or connect various services for free). Why not help others?
- I spent considerable time playing with a bot to understand how it displayed the content and inherent limitations of Telegram’s BOT API. I find it fascinating that content created on a different closed wall domain, like Twitter, can be parsed in real time to present itself on Telegram. I created numerous channels and played with bot settings to improve rendition.
- Most importantly, I gained access to the raw thought processes of the creator-individuals. It is critical to foster deeper conversations (than typing comments or re-tweeting). For example, I could finally gain access to my favourite author writing on conservative issues, who has shaped my worldview and perceptions. I set up his Telegram channel, and after much persuasion he tipped his toes in Telegram 🙂 Speaking to my digital mentor has its upsides.
The sum total benefit of this exercise is that it created a familiar flywheel exercise to convince incredibly creative individuals and helped me create value for them. I continue to consume content to fill gaps in my knowledge system, watch new videos to learn, and create a “filtration-matrix” to pursue learning. In the photography parlance, they call it “noise filtering” to make the subject stand out. It is my own mental algorithm to understand behavioural patterns and “man-machine interface” with the technology. I grew better as a person, while helping familiarise themselves with a new application.
I personally wish more individuals adopted an efficiency matrix for research. It is considerably easy now to track content through RSS feeds, utilise article summarisers and cloud-storage systems, and pay for the process.
(If you are reading this on Twitter, please send me a direct message if you are interested in your own Telegram channel. It takes 120 seconds to automate the entire process. If you wish to connect with me on Telegram, my user id is radonc. Alternatively, if you wish to connect on email, it is contact (at) myfastmail dot com. While the process using IFTTT is free, I have used another paid bot to display content (and therefore, charges need to be split up).