The Jeweler’s Party Planner

“This isn’t happening to me”, thought the party planner as he tripped over the wire in the ball room for the third time, falling into the mirror again. The first two times, he just left some nasty finger print streaks and scratches across the mirror which King Louis XV once owned, but this third time was too much for the old thing. It burst into a hundred pieces.
The party planner was looking around in shock, if he admitted it was him, he’d be fired and, knowing his employer, a rich jeweler who might not get all of his money strictly legally, probably would get thugs sent after him to destroy his live. If he just carried on without fixing it, the jeweler would surely notice the mirror not working the moment he tried to check himself out before entering the ball room, at which point he’d be blamed for not providing an alternative, so this wouldn’t do either. He had to do something, and he had to do it quickly, and found just the right thing for the job


As the jeweler went to the ball room, he checked himself in the mirror as usual. But unlike usual, he didn’t have anything to criticize about his appearance this time. His face was bright, his smile perfect, even his posture seemed to be more elegant. Happy about himself, he went into the ball room, to the awe and surprise of anyone who looked him, for there was a big spaghetti over his face.

The party planner had exchanged the mirror with a photo of him.

The Katzenjammer

The cat was bored. Every day it’d lounge around, not a worry to be seen, every night it’d bounce around, only to get scolded by just its owner. What little had it achieved in life? Thrown down a single flower pot and a cup, before the owners stopped leaving easy prey laying around? Lay on a keyboard while they were trying to work? But don’t all cats do that? It had seen others outside, roaming around freely, stealing fish from the fishermen, pooping on it’s neighbors lawn, it even had seen a cat skate, which had gotten the attention of everyone.

The cat looked around. There was absolutely nothing interesting to destroy, and nothing to get famous with, especially not at 3am. Unless…

The cat jumped on the black box with the many little knobs and switches on it. One of it made a satisfying click, it was the one which the owner would press when he started doing loud things with it. The box started buzzing quietly. The stringy thing was ready.
The cat played a perfect Bmajor7sus4 and henceforth was known as
The Katzenjammer

The Fat Rat

The rat was fat
The fat rat sat
Wat? Said the rat
Should I be fit, not fat?

The jump was flawless
As it was lawless
The only solace
Speedy Gonzales

The rat met speedy
And was quite needy
“Will you train me, make me strong?”
“of course, you won’t be fat for long”

The fat rat that
Trained now is
A fit rit, whit’s ( // TODO: Find a better line)
No food for cat

The Double-Triple-Quadruple Agent

Jack had picked up Dimitri, as the CIA told him. He needed to get exfiltrated as soon as possible, the message was, because his cover had blown. Therefore, Jack and him had to leave country by the least suspicious method known to man, a hovercraft across the tundra, towards the icy polar sea where a submarine would await them.

Dimitri pulled out his vodka, offering some to Jack who politely refused, he probably should remain sober on a journey this dangerous. Dimitri shrugged and downed it all. He probably was done for the day.

Jack was very surprised to find Dimitri keep his cover even when drunk, chanting “death to the capitalists” and like a good commie would do. He asked Dimitri if he maybe could stop that, now that the submarine was in sight, what would the commanders think, when Dimitri slurred something about a being a double-triple-quadruple agent. And indeed, shortly before they reached the submarine, a missile from an Ekranoplan destroyed it, shortly followed by a space laser destroying the Ekranoplan, shortly followed by Hitler in a UFO destroying the space laser.

The Nazis had won after all, Jack thought just before he froze to death.

Silent

He didn’t get woken up by cars, usually rolling quickly through the cobbled street. He didn’t get woken up by birds, the geese, the seagulls, none of them had said anything. Neither had the helicopters, the sirens, usually passing by frequently, reminding him that the world was not okay. What happened? Was it him? Or was it the world?

He chose to believe the former, and started going to his home office. It had to be, for the latter would be too devastating to be true.

A Live Girl’s Problem

The silent crowd was cheering her on. No matter what she did. No matter if she wanted it. They’d always write the same sort of overly supportive messages. Why? She hadn’t done anything special. Were they being sincere? How could they praise her even if she intentionally messed things up? Or did they just do it for attention, out of a mis-guided feeling, confusing cheering, an inherently one-way action, with love?

Whatever the reason, it probably was best for her to play along, while always being highly cautious. Just in case they thought they were entitled to anything. Entitled men were just too dangerous.

The EDE model: Exploring, Developing and Established Creators

Moin.

A while back, I posted a thing about “Why Grinding is bad for you” on r/youtubegaming, where I encouraged gaming creators to try different formats, instead of going for the first thing which comes to mind, which quite often is just a Let’s Play. To aid this discussion, I developed the EDE-model, which I wanted to expand on here.

The basic gist of the EDE model is that creators who just are starting out have much more freedoms on what they can do than big channels.

1. The Exploration Stage

At this first stage, a creator just made a channel with the intend to upload something, starting from 0 subscribers, 0 views and 0 videos, or something very close to this. This crucially means the following:

  • Nobody has any expectations on what this channel is going to upload. Because of this, the creator has the tough fate of complete creative freedom where they can do anything.
  • Typical channel recommendations (“upload on a schedule! stick to formats! consistency is king!”) aren’t really applicable yet, because they’re strategies which optimize for existing subscribers and thus require some degree of following to be effective.

My advice for creators at this stage would be to try anything that’s vaguely interesting to them. To not get started doing regular formats and series just yet, but just try everything they always wanted to try. To create as if view counts and subscriber counts don’t exist.

This freedom is not something which you really get later on in the process, at least not without alienating vast portions of your audience.

2. The Development Stage

At this stage, the creator probably has made a few dozen videos (depending on the type of content and effort which went into each individual video), and figured out which kinds of content they want to do more of, as well as which kinds of content they don’t like doing. With the experience they’ve gathered in the Exploration stage, they probably also have considerably better video making skills and equipment than in the very beginning, and possibly already have gotten feedback from friends and family on which videos were nice to watch and which ones didn’t work out as intended.

Based on this, the creator now can start transitioning towards doing what established channels do, namely:

  • Find a niche to be in
  • Develop formats and serial content which can be uploaded on a regular schedule
  • Start putting more care into marketing, ie SEO and good thumbnails/titles

If a developing creator and finds their initial niche to be a dead end for whatever reason – too much effort per video, copyright trouble, getting bored of it – it’s completely fine to go back to exploring other options. This is where it comes in handy to have had this exploration stage beforehand, so they already know what they’d also want to do and come up with a somewhat thought out plan on how to transition between the niches.

But, if you’ve found your idea to be sustainable and fun, you can continue on your path and eventually reach…

3. The Established Stage

At this stage, the creator has probably made hundreds of videos, and is decently well known in their niche. This also is the stage where fans start to become a significant force, be it for promotion, merch sales or patreon stuff. Micro-optimizations can become surprisingly powerful here.

Since their channel probably generates some decent amount of money one way or the other, the creator can invest into the channel much more, be it through buying better equipment, dedicating more time to the channel that they otherwise would be working on a “real” job, or getting opportunities which smaller YouTubers just don’t get. Note though that the money doesn’t come on its own, but drags a whole tail of bureaucracy behind it.

The niche they live in is pretty set in stone and difficult to escape from without losing a lot of attention from subscribers. That said, it sometimes can be very necessary to pivot even as an established creator, eg. if the niche they’re in is very small and/or shrinking, causing the channel to stagnate. Further, because the fans and subscribers have very strong expectations of the channel, it can become increasingly difficult to meet these expectations.

Which isn’t to say that an established creator has a worse fate than someone in one of the other stages; there’s a reason why all the bigger YouTubers can be found in this category. It’s just that it comes with a different set of challenges than a small one, so it’s not like the moment you become established, all your trouble will go away.

Why this model can be useful

Often, creators who start out have a fairly concrete idea of what they want to do, so they skip the exploration stage and then go straight for the development stage. And while this may work, it often times leads to this “small YouTuber mentality”, in which the creator “grinds” out videos day after day or week after week, without getting anywhere, and the advice from peers being “just keep at it, do these micro-optimizations and hope that the algorithm picks you up eventually”.

The problem I have with this mentality is that it reduces something which can be very much fulfilling – video production and the creative process in general – into a 9-5 kinda job in which the modus operandi is “preservere against the odds”, and this job doesn’t even pay well.

My hope is that this model encourages people to pursue extreme levels of creativity at first, and once they know where their creative preferences lie, start making a channel geared towards success.

The SEE–NTS Model. A better model for Online Video Programming.

Moin.

The Hero–Hub–Help model which YouTube developed in 2014 has been a helpful tool for video marketeers to help them understand what they can do on YouTube. Namely:

  • Hero content is big events, which you can advertise in a big way. It gets huge attention on the day it’s happening, and then quickly becomes uninteresting again, such as the E3 presentations.
  • Hub content is regularly scheduled content, to keep subscribers (and viewers you’ve reached through the other content) interested in your channel. This content gets watched by your subscribers in the first couple days after upload, and then basically never again.
  • Help content (originally named: hygiene) is helpful content teaching users how to do stuff, ie tutorials. This content gets found at any time via search, but doesn’t add much value to subscribers to your channel.

Now, this model kinda makes sense if you have a product you’re making videos about. But it kinda breaks down once you put it into the context of a normal YouTuber: It doesn’t make sense to make a big event which only is relevant for a week, so Hero content is out. Hub content is more in line to what YouTubers do, but YouTubers do so much more than make videos which just are consistent and appeal to their current subscribers.

So, out of this model, only a few bits actually are usable for YouTubers, and even these only are so with caveats. So I thought about it a bit and came up with a new model instead:

The SEE–NTS Model

SEE-NTS is short for the following aspects:

The SEE-NTS model can be thought of as 3-dimensional space.
Also, I like to pronounce it as “sea ants”.
  • Subscriber Content. Ie content made primarily for subscribers, featuring funny in-jokes, references to previous videos, stories that make the creator more relatable to their fans and such.
  • Evergreen Content. Ie content which will stay relevant to the world for the (forseeable) future.
  • Event Content. Ie content which is tied to certain events.

— with their counterparts —

  • New Viewer Content. Ie content which is accessible and fully understandable to someone who never has seen any of your content before.
  • Timely Content. Ie content which is relevant during a specific window of time only, and then basically never again, eg news.
  • Serial Content. Ie content which you can sure you’ll see more of next week anyway.

The individual aspects make predictions on whether the view distribution will be flat over time, or have a spike shortly after publication:

  • Subscriber content is watched by subscribers, so it’ll get most of it’s views within the first week of publication, while New Viewer content may get discovered by potential new subscribers at any time.
  • Timely content is only relevant shortly after publication, after which it’s old news. Evergreen content is ever relevant.
  • Event content is most watched during the event (→ Tentpoling), while Serial content is watched all year round.

As such, the model explains why Hero-Hub-Help makes the predictions that it does: Hero content is minmaxed for spikeyness (Event/Timely, with a lot of advertising thrown at it so that talking about the Subscriber/New Viewer axis kinda is pointless), Hub content is Subscribers/Serial content (and doesn’t nearly spike as high), and Help content is minmaxed for flatness.

SEE-NTS also allows for other content to be categorized sensibly:

  • Mr Beast’s content is no doubt Serial (it’s not really a surprise what he’ll do next), but features some Event-like qualities (he basically makes his own events in each video by giving away a lot of money). His videos are accessible for New Viewers, yet appeal for Subscribers as well. And the stunts he pulls generally age well, so: His content sits pretty much in the middle and manages to more or less cover all bases.
  • A band doing a concert live stream is an Event for everyone who already knows the band (ie Subscriber-ish), but since music doesn’t really get outdated, it also is strongly Evergreen.
  • Videos like “how to decorate your house for Halloween” and similar seasonal content is Evergreen while the (yearly repeating) Event is going on. This kind of content technically could still work for Subscribers primarily, but realistically it’s probably gonna be a optimized for New Viewers.

Using SEE–NTS for Content Programming

SEE-NTS can be used to assess a channel’s current standing to make decisions for future content programming.

Most obviously, if the vast majority of views a channel has come from subscribers and all formats on the channel are made for subscribers, that channel may want to develop a format which is meant to appeal to non-subscribers and draw them in.

If a creator feels like they’re grinding away in a hamster wheel, but can’t afford to take a day off because all their subscribers will lose interest, maybe Evergreen Subscriber content would be able to bridge these gaps in the future.

If a musician can only realistically make one big Event/Evergreen-type video a year and struggles to re-activate subscribers in-between uploads, them making Subscriber/Serial/Timely content in-between to fill the gaps and keep people engaged throughout the year may be useful.

Of course, as always: It’s hard to recommend any specifics without knowing the actual channel. I hope however it can help creators, at a glance, find out where they are with their current programming, and where they have potential left to explore.

Limitations

SEE-NTS as a model doesn’t predict how successful content is going to be, it only can predict the rough shape of the view curve. The real world (and “The Algorithm”) of course can always throw a spanner in the works by having your viewers receive the video differently than what you designed it for.

Unlike Hero-Hub-Help, SEE-NTS doesn’t do content recommendations. For example, it’s not entirely clear to me what Subscriber/Event/Evergreen content would even look like, while for Help content, the hint already is in the name, and thus are the strategies you should take (ie SEO on your customer’s troubles).

SEE-NTS is untested as a tool for content programming. The questions that need to be answered in the future are:

  • Is SEE-NTS useful to accurately describe different channel programming strategies?
  • Is SEE-NTS complete, or are there more factors which are essential for programming?
  • Do creators who use SEE-NTS understand their programming better than those who don’t?
  • Is SEE-NTS useful to find gaps in the content programming?

Overall thoughts

From what I can tell so far, the SEE-NTS model seems promising. Even if it fails as a “practical” tool that can tell creators “do this”, it may still be a worthwhile academical tool as it categorizes content way better than Hero–Hub–Help.

Of course, I’d love even more for it to be useful as a practical tool. I guess time will tell how good this thing is.

Gnome 3. A review.

Moin.

You may know Gnome as the “ah, something simple, which… — wait, where are my desktop icons and task bar?” desktop environment. Which, no doubt, it is; it’s what I liked about it when I first started using it in version 3.8 all those years ago. But recently, I discovered that it hadn’t just been that, but that it actively helps making things more seamless.

Let’s back up for a bit.

My theory on Desktop Environments is, in a nutshell, “if you notice them, they do something wrong”, or in other words: “A good desktop environment lets you focus on your tasks without getting in your way”. This basically also is true for programs in general, if it lets you do the thing you want to do easily and in one flow, it probably is a good program.

This effectively explains why Windows 10 keeps greatly displeasing me every time I use it. It’s design changes between the most recent Fluent Design, all the way down to Windows 2000/XP-style depending on which program you use (even built-in settings programs), and things like dark theme pretty much don’t work on anything at all. And even simple settings changes like adjusting the mic gain, require you to either dive into almost-invisible text-links in the settings app, or finding the right pop-up window of the old system control center. And after each somewhat major update, Cortana and Edge greet you yet again. To add to that, there’s my personal clumsiness which causes me to click on the wrong icon in the taskbar not quite daily, but enough that I now have “padding apps” between apps which take very long to load, so that a misclick doesn’t cause years of waiting. All of these things take me out of “the zone” whenever you encounter them, and I very frequently do.

Gnome’s quick access to settings

Gnome beats this any day of the week. Changing the mic gain can be done right in next to where you know the volume slider is, if the mic is active. And since loads of apps are GTK-based anyway, the dark theme (or any theme, really) gets applied pretty much universally, with the notable exceptions of the major browsers and blender – all of which have their own, very capable theming options though anyway – and Qt-based apps.

Encountering a Qt-based app in Gnome is weird every time, but likewise, encountering a GTK-based app in KDE is weird as well. And while there is the minor problem of them looking kinda weird compared to the rest of the system, there is the slightly more major issue that Qt-apps tend to use different things for everything. For example, if I want to open a file in a GTK-based program, it gives me effectively Nautilus (aka Gnome Files), whereas Qt-based programs give me Dolphin. But look closely at the difference towards the folders on the left-hand side:

Top: Nautilus-based “open file” modal (here: for Discord), Bottom: Dolphin-based “open file” modal (here: for kdenlive).

Where Nautilus has shortcuts for the images/documents/music/videos folders, Dolphin instead has basically the same, just slightly-different looking icons for a completely different function: Clicking on them filters the current folder for the type of file you’re looking for. And don’t get me wrong, it’s a very useful option, and on KDE, this Dolphin-modal does have the same shortcuts to drives and places, it’s just that this particular Qt-to-GTK-port is kinda confusing because it breaks the “there are shortcuts to your folders to the left” model that is established everywhere else by putting a search filter there instead.

But this is a small price to pay for what is my favourite part of Gnome: The Activity Overview.

The Activity Overview combines so many things into one place, it’s just awesome. Dead center, you have all your open windows. Not as window previews forced to the same size or just a bunch of icons as you may know from alt+tabbing or taskbars, but as actual windows which do a very decent job at conveying which windows are big and which aren’t. If you do need a taskbar, you can find it here as well, and if you need something which resembles OSX’ Launchpad and Spotlight search, they are here as well. In this view you can close windows you no longer need, or drag them to other screens, both real ones and virtual ones.

Opening the Activity Overview is as easy as pressing Super (the “Windows” key), or flinging your cursor into the top-left corner. It feels so good to use and I use it so often that it’s become my second nature: whenever I’m using a desktop environment which doesn’t have that, I’m actually starting to struggle a bit, to the point where I put the taskbar up top in Windows and KDE, so that flinging my cursor up left at least brings it in the right vicinity of the “Start” button.


Until recently, my review of Gnome would’ve stopped about there. The activity overview is awesome, and the rest is out of the way and (mostly) consistent, therefore, it’s a good desktop environment for me and I will continue using it whenever possible.

But, as I alluded to in the beginning, it’s taking steps towards making things more seamless.

Gnome’s Noficiation center

As a small example, the notification center shows notifications (duh) and your calendar, but also give you player controls for the YouTube tab that currently is playing. So you can pause and skip videos playing in the background at any time without having to find the right browser tab.

The bigger example is Gnome Online Accounts. Which isn’t actually that new, but I didn’t bother trying it beforehand. Because, what I associate with “connect your account” is that it just grabs your email and avatar for account creation purposes, and maybe starts posting farmville status updates to your timeline if you aren’t careful. But that isn’t what’s happening here. If all you have is a Google account and put it into Gnome Online Accounts, it automatically…

  • sets up your Email account in Geary and Evolution,
  • syncs your Google calendar with Gnome Calendar and Evolution,
  • imports your contacts in Gnome Contacts and Evolution,
  • adds a remote server connection to Google Drive in Gnome Files,
  • adds Google Documents to view in Gnome Documents,
  • imports photos from Google Photos to Gnome Photos,
  • does possibly more! I haven’t discovered all of the integrations yet.

Now, this sounds exactly like what Android does with the Google account, OSX with the AppleID/iCloud and Microsoft with the Microsoft Account, and to some degree, it is. The difference is however that it doesn’t try to get you into it’s ecosystem at which point it can extract money out of you for more storage space or whatever, but that it rather lets you keep your existing accounts and allows you to work with them faster. For example by letting you move stuff from and to your favourite cloud provider without having to open a browser, downloading it, finding it in the downloads folder and then moving it about.

Of course, we are still in FOSS-Land, so some of these integrations are kinda janky – I notice for example that the Gnome Files/Google Drive integration refuses to go much faster than 90 kiB/s despite me sitting on a 25 Mbit/s line – and some of the Gnome-specific apps aren’t quite as stable as the old guard – Geary sometimes refuses to connect to accounts until a system restart happens and sometimes insists that I’m working offline even though I’ve done nothing but watch YouTube videos for the past 3 hours.

And this shows the one gripe I do have with what Gnome’s UX decision imperative to keep things simple: The Geary team won’t build in a way manually reload. It instead shows you a banner saying “You are now working offline”, which you can dismiss, and that’s it. Which is immensely frustrating, because if you as a user are encountering an error which isn’t your fault, are you really supposed to… just wait until the program eventually decides to fix itself? Or did it fix itself and I am online again, but the banner didn’t remove itself afterwards? There’s no indication for when the next refresh happens either, because the only setting in Geary for updates is “automatically check for new mail”, which is either on or off, so when I see the banner, do I just click X and wait around for… ten minutes? Is that even enough? That’s not what I do! Monkey no patience! Monkey do thing! MONKEY SMASH BUTTONS!

… I’m beginning to wonder if Windows’ automatic “error fixing” thing actually would be a good feature for Gnome, because even if it doesn’t do anything, it at least lets you play around with a thing until it fixes itself…

Mockup: An “you’re offline” banner that’s actually useful and lets me retry manually.

So yeah. Gnome. Very awesome almost always, but can be kinda frustrating when it doesn’t work. Highly recommended, 5/5 toes. Get it on https://gnome.org