SFIA 100k Subscribers Special
It seems like just yesterday we were celebrating hitting 10,000 subscribers, today we’ve reached 100,000 and there’s plenty of room to go.
00:00:21 So today is a special episode celebrating the 100,000th subscriber to the channel and I have no idea what day this will air, though it’s Memorial Day as I write this.
00:00:31 It’s customary to make a special 100k episode on Youtube because it’s a more than symbolic benchmark.
00:00:38 Typically after you get past 10,000 subscribers Youtube formally contacts you to offer some advice and options, you’re on their radar in a formal sense, but at 100,000 you get the Silver Creator play button award as a thanks from them, and I gather they give you a gift card too.
00:00:55 I’d considered celebrating 100,000 subscribers with a video discussing the year 100,000 AD, but the custom is to thank the viewers and talk a bit about your channel and yourself, so we’ll save that for another day.
00:01:08 I’m not a big one on biography but I’ll do a little of that today, and of course while I do want to thank my viewers, and the patrons who fund this channel, I also wanted to thank a few other channels who’ve helped me learn the ropes and a lot of the artists and musicians whose work seriously enhances the quality of these episodes compared to the early days.
00:01:27 Those early days and the channel’s origins are a bit peculiar.
00:01:32 Mostly because I never meant there to be one.
00:01:35 Some folks who have noticed that I started labeling videos this year by season and episode order, 2017 being season 3, making 2015 season 1, might note that the oldest episode is actually from 2014 and the channel has existed since 2012.
00:01:52 For official purposes I consider that episode the ‘pilot’ or episode 0, but the handful of subscribers from the very beginning might remember I used to have other videos up there.
00:02:02 That’s because I just had a regular old account I used sometimes to upload home videos or presentations to for storage.
00:02:10 At one point I wanted to try Powerpoint’s built in tool for letting you record narrations and export a slideshow as a video, as an experiment for some other projects I was doing.
00:02:21 I was a member of scifi worldbuilding group at the time, an author friend of mine suggested it to me as a fun place to bounce ideas around.
00:02:29 I have a notorious dislike for scifi’s habit of always setting everything on planets and often advocated more space stations and megastructures as settings, so I decided to do my practice run on that topic and upload it to youtube to post it to that group.
00:02:45 I could just link it instead of re-typing my arguments.
00:02:49 Some months later I did the same thing for another group I was involved in on the Fermi Paradox.
00:02:54 Thus was the channel born.
00:02:57 Well not quite, it was some months before I deleted older home videos and almost a year before I decided to do regular episodes, and just over a year ago that I switched over to the regular weekly schedule.
00:03:09 This though is one of the reasons why the episodes are visual imagery with me talking over them.
00:03:15 The second reason being that my favorite online show, SF Debris hosted by Chuck Sonnenburg, is him reviewing scifi films and shows with just clips of the shows he talks over top of.
00:03:27 I liked this format as I’d found a lot of the other review shows a bit distracting with the host showing up on screen and often doing skits, which wasn’t my cup of tea.
00:03:37 The third reason is that I started rendering the episodes in 1080p HD, and my webcam is lower resolution than that, just one I use for playing Dungeons and Dragons with some friends in another state.
00:03:49 In fact I developed most of my video production skills doing fun little videos for that gaming group.
00:03:56 Reason 4 is that shooting video at decent quality takes a lot of skill and a lot of takes, and even just recording the audio for these can take a couple hours.
00:04:05 If you visit some of sibling channels where they do a live presenter in front of camera for 5-20 minutes, take my word for it, there’s was a lot more setup time and recording time than 5-20 minutes.
00:04:18 I was little surprised some folks thought I was a recluse, same as folks often figure I use a pseudonym for the channel.
00:04:26 Originally there were a bunch of home videos with me in them and my pictures been in several episodes starting from the second one.
00:04:32 I’ve even filmed a short channel update video for the Facebook Group, Science and Futurism with Isaac Arthur, of me just talking into the aforementioned webcam.
00:04:41 I don’t use photos of me on the channel much either, the one most probably know is a photoshop of the command and control center I use for episodes set on the spaceship unity, from the life in a space colony trilogy.
00:04:54 That’s actually quite old, from 2006, but was the only picture of me in uniform sitting down that I could find.
00:05:03 It’s from my tent in Tel Afar Iraq, which was my home and workshop for the first half of the 14 months I spent in Iraq.
00:05:10 We used to play a fair amount of D&D down there in our tiny amounts of free time too, it doesn’t require electricity which is handy, and I actually still play with one of my brethren from then, my best friend, who runs the group in another state I mentioned.
00:05:24 He’s also one of my sounding boards for the channel, I’ve been bouncing these ideas off him for well over a decade.
00:05:31 I’ve mentioned it on the channel a time or too but I served with the US Army from 2003 to 2010.
00:05:37 I’d been intending to go back to college and finish my doctorate afterwards but I lost my taste for academia by then.
00:05:44 Actually I lost it maybe a year into grad school but I figured it might come back after I went and saw more of the world.
00:05:50 I love my field, and I do enjoy teaching, but only to crowds who are interested, and the idea of spending my life on a campus just lost its appeal.
00:06:01 You have to love what you’re doing or you generally won’t do it well, and while it’s a good idea to press on into the storm for a while to see if things change, if they don’t its best to make changes.
00:06:12 That was a big change for me because becoming a scientist had been something I was set on since I was a little kid.
00:06:19 My parents were both physics majors when they met and got married, probably not too surprising since my full name is Isaac Albert Arthur, though I am also named after Isaac Asimov and my family always has an Alan or Chester in the name somewhere, so the ‘Al’ in Albert did double duty I suppose.
00:06:36 Most of the men in my family have been in the military too, so that wasn’t surprising either.
00:06:41 I count both as very positive experiences overall and had and have many good friends and mentors from both of those periods of my life.
00:06:50 Anyway I was raised by mother and my Grandfather, Alan Arthur, both of whom were geeks, as is my older sister, so it’s no surprise I had a big interest in science and science fiction.
00:07:01 I started school young, left it in favor of homeschooling at 10, skipped a couple grades, tried high school briefly and dropped out when I was 12.
00:07:09 And yes I am a genuine high school dropout complete with GED, I basically stayed home by myself and read all day till I was 16.
00:07:17 When I did finally get to college I had some excellent professors, and also found out how handy study groups were.
00:07:24 Fundamentally all learning is self-taught, especially when you get past the basics, but it does help to have mentors and companions for that journey.
00:07:33 If you’re curious I graduated with a bachelor’s in Physics from Kent State University in 2001, when I was 20.
00:07:41 I was top of my class so I got offered a generous teaching and research stipend to stick around for grad school which I did for a few years, studying under Theorist Mike Lee.
00:07:51 I was originally planning to go into Nuclear and Particle Physics, indeed my college ring, the only bit of jewelry I ever wear besides my dogtags, has a big Bohr-style atom on it with that in mind, as the jeweler didn’t have a mushroom cloud available.
00:08:06 But I ended up studying Biophysics, with a focus on Mitochondria and molecular motors.
00:08:12 Probably a mistake as I absolutely hated it, but the genome project was just wrapping up then and my advisor and I both thought it sounded interesting.
00:08:21 Indeed it is, but it wasn’t my sup of tea.
00:08:23 In any event one day I called up a recruiter and a week later I was a Fort Sill in Oklahoma, and a few months later I was stationed to Giessen, Germany, just a little ways north of Frankfurt.
00:08:34 Giessen is a beautiful town and I highly recommend it should you be in the area, though Ohio is and always has been the place I call home and there’s no place I’d rather be.
00:08:46 After the military I went home to Ohio and after twiddling my thumbs for a bit I went into local governance and politics, I do a lot analysis and advising.
00:08:55 Though my official position is Board Member on the Board of Elections, by appointment of the Secretary of State, and I’m in my second term of office.
00:09:04 I consider it quite an honor too, I received unanimous bipartisan approval for my reappointment and am to the best of my knowledge the youngest to hold the office in the state.
00:09:13 I’m also firmly committed to keeping the channel apolitical, and I find war stories to be morbid affairs at best, so I typically avoid mentioning either on the channel.
00:09:23 I’d probably have bypassed it entirely if it weren’t Memorial Day, which puts absent friends to mind.
00:09:29 If that’s your cup of tea, my first sergeant published his memoirs after he retired last year, and I show up in there a few times.
00:09:36 It’s fairly graphic and violent as you might expect from someone who served in ground combat in every US conflict since Grenada, but it’s not gratuitous, and there is no person on this planet I respect more than him, which says a lot since I’ve had no shortage of admirable people in my life and many of them from that unit.
00:09:55 Those were exciting times but I have, thankfully, led a pretty boring life in recent years.
00:10:01 I also can’t remember ever being happier in life, and this channel is a big part of that.
00:10:07 What else is there?
00:10:09 We do talk scifi on the channel a lot and folks do ask who my favorite writers are or for reading recommendations, but I once decided to test Facebook’s reading recommendation ability by pumping in several hundred novels I’ve read and rating them 1-5 stars, and my facebook page is public, so I just send curious folks there.
00:10:29 It’s not complete and I don’t update it much, but it lists a ton of them and films and shows too.
00:10:35 These days I listen to audiobooks more than read, my favorite narrator is John Lee.
00:10:40 My favorite musician incidentally is Sting, which I will use to segue back to discussing the channel.
00:10:46 I use a lot of graphics and music from Public Domain and Creative Commons sources, NASA is unsurprisingly one of those but Pixabay is another, and I did want to thank every artist who contributes their work there for others to use, and the same for the Free Music Archive.
00:11:03 These days I use a lot of graphics and music contributed to the channel by their artists and composers, but I wanted to give a shout out to the folks who donate their work for general use by all.
00:11:13 It really is amazing getting to work directly with those artists and musicians these days though and I hope you will check out their other work, and for the music get to listen to them at full volume for a change.
00:11:25 I do always include every song used in an episode in chronological order in the credits at the end, something which a lot of folks miss.
00:11:34 “Who did that song?” is probably the second most commonly asked question on the channel, right after “What is that accent?” And yeah I do tend to find my speech impediment amusing, if you can’t laugh at yourself life will get pretty boring pretty quick.
00:11:48 Anyway I get complimented on it more often than the reverse, I don’t think I ever got insulted about it till the channel, and this is the internet after all so a thick skin is a necessity.
00:11:58 It gets brought up a lot in older videos because I didn’t want folks distracted wondering about it while watching the material, these day I just use the Elmer Fudd Grpahic.
00:12:08 Speaking of Graphics, I wanted to thank Jakub Grygier who started doing the cover art, the thumbnails, for the channel about a year ago.
00:12:16 For the longest time it was just him and me working on the channel, and Luis handling the website, with occasional help from some others.
00:12:23 A couple months ago I also put out the call for volunteers to help with the graphics and script editing, and we’re always looking for more volunteers helping on the graphics.
00:12:31 It’s been wonderful having folks helping out with that, and they do get named in the credits at the end of episodes.
00:12:38 But all the mods and admins from the facebook group, the reddit group, or the youtube comments section do not, all of whom volunteer tons of time to managing those.
00:12:47 It also doesn’t include all the folks who have translated the subtitles for this channel into other languages.
00:12:53 So I wanted to take a moment to thank all of them too.
00:12:56 I also to want to thank a few of the channels who have provided me a lot help and advice this last year.
00:13:01 Joe Scott from Answers with Joe, who got into the game around the same time I did and who I did my first collaboration episode with.
00:13:08 Fraser Cain of Universe Today, whose publication I’ve been reading for a long time and who is my main source for astronomy updates over the years along with Paul Gilster of Centuari Dreams.
00:13:20 And last but hardly least, Cody don Reeder of Cody’s Lab, who gave me a lot of great advice on running a channel, which is not surprising for someone who has over a million subscribers.
00:13:31 He’s also recommended my channel to his audience more than once and that’s quite an honor.
00:13:36 He mentioned at the time someone doing that for him once and believing in paying it forward, and I try to espouse the same attitude when contacted by other channels just getting started.
00:13:45 Though I think if I had to give one single piece of advice to aspiring creators, it would be always to respect your audience.
00:13:52 Don’t ever dumb your material down or hype it up.
00:13:55 No video should be needlessly long, and every artist has to find their right style, for some that is short and intense, but don’t feel constrained to the common wisdom that you need to go short and simple.
00:14:08 As this channel proves, there is a big niche for in-depth discussion of concepts.
00:14:12 I know everyone says their audience is the best, and I suspect most sincerely believe that too, I know I do and it’s probably a point against me that I tend to be terribly smug about my audience.
00:14:24 It ranges from folks with no formal education to professors, but they, you, all seem to share that passion for knowledge that makes discussing these topics so rewarding.
00:14:34 I remember teaching, and have a lot friends who do it for a living, so I know how draining it can be trying to stoke the fires of curiosity in a class, but I won’t deny that it’s a bit thrilling to go out every Thursday morning and share these topics with a crowd who already enjoys it and is also big enough to fill a stadium.
00:14:53 Pretty intimidating at times too, though I’d still recommend giving it a try to anyone with some expertise on a topic who wants to share that with others.
00:15:02 It’s a fascinating emerging industry, only time will tell how well it will prosper and change, but it’s neat to be involved in.
00:15:10 It wouldn’t be possible without places like Youtube providing a forum and Patreon allowing a safe and easy way for folks to crowd-source these things.
00:15:19 I mostly eschew ads on the channel, there are some features only available to creators on Youtube who monetize their videos so I do some and it does bring in some revenue, but funding for the channel mostly comes through Patreon and my patrons there.
00:15:33 There are over 400 of them these days, and many of them value their privacy, so I won’t display all of them now, but beyond my own personal gratitude for their generosity I think they deserve a round of applause for helping to keep this channel going, and while I hope some of you will join their number, I’d also encourage you to donate to other channels you like and places like the Free Music Archive and Pixabay and the various artists, composers, and creators who donate their time and labors for others to use.
00:16:04 I’m not one for knocking the big networks and studios, but I think we benefit a lot from independent small groups and individuals getting involved in these enterprises and this simple donation and crowd-sourcing method that’s been emerging makes that much easier.
00:16:18 It’s really an amazing aspect of the world we live in today that such resources are available.
00:16:24 Folks occasionally challenge my general optimism about the future and point to bleaker aspects of human nature as examples, stuff like that is just one of many examples I keep in mind that keeps me upbeat about humanity.
00:16:37 We are race of thinkers and dreamers, hopers and builders, and I never need to look further than the comments section on my channel for a reminder of that.
00:16:47 I think on that note we’ll close out for today.
00:16:49 It’s been a long march to 100,000 subscribers, and will be a longer one to a million if we ever get there, but even if I never get another subscriber I will count myself lucky for this experience and am grateful to all of you for tuning in every week.
00:17:06 As always, thanks for watching, and have a great week!