Tuesday, 12 March 2013

To continue or not to continue

The latest Numberphile video tells an infamous story about Pi and proposed legislation in the 19th century (hereafter known as The Indiana Story).

The video ends with the promise of more discussion about squaring circles (hereafter knows as The Circle/Square Discussion).

In anticipation of people complaining about the "to be continued" nature of this video, I've decided to write this blog post.

I hope (but doubt) it will save me some time in the comments section.

Here are some thoughts:

1. I think The Indiana Story is self-contained and focused film - that's how I think my videos should be.

2. The subsequent Circle/Square Discussion - which I've not yet edited - will also be nicely self-contained.

3. The soon-to-come Circle/Square Discussion took some time to explain - longer than The Indiana Story itself... Seems like an odd thing to tack on the end?

4. The Circle/Square Discussion itself ALSO went off on yet another tangent about paradoxes... If I included all three topics, I'd have an epic video which started on one theme and ended on something totally unrelated.

Now some people might argue that an 20-minute epic video on three topics is a good thing. But I disagree.

Here are some more thoughts:

1. Making an epic video takes ME a long time... Why not upload the shorter segments as I make them? People may complain I am teasing and making them wait with a "to be continued".

But wouldn't I also be making them wait (longer) if I spent weeks on extended videos too?  Is it not better for the audience to keep the content flowing as a I cut it!?

And videos would be uploaded less frequently if I kept collating everything into epic films.

2. Yes, some people like longer videos - but others prefer short ones they can quickly watch in lunch breaks at work or as "lesson starters" at school.

Shorter videos seems to suit everyone because the hardcore viewers can just watch them back-to-back anyway.

(side note: it is rare for me to describe my videos as short - many fellow creators say mine are too long!)

3. The Circle/Square Discussion (it is not really a sequel) does not exist now - but it will soon... When people watch The Indiana Story in future, they'll be able to just click on through to the next part seamlessly... The current situation is only frustrating for people who watch the video soon after upload (admittedly, this is a large number of people).

And another thought - for some people Numberphile videos are a resource. They may search our archives for Circle/Square Discussion, for example.

It seems silly to have them sit through 4-5 minutes beforehand for a discussion about an obscure unpassed bill in the Indiana State Legislature!?

I know some people will not be placated. They will think this is a cynical ploy to get more "YouTube views" - all I can say is this isn't the case.

I am more motivated by my eagerness to get videos out regularly and share the stuff I'm learning from clever people like James.

Anyway, that's probably enough.


  1. I think the Numberphile videos tend to be fine in terms of length. (And obviously in terms of content, but that's another discussion.) I don't mind seeing one part first and then waiting for more, as opposed to waiting until the final par is ready before getting to see any of it at all. As for the accusations of trying to get more views on YouTube: this is only true in the sense that making this two shorter videos instead of one long video makes those who only want to watch one part and not the other can do that without having to skip part of the video or remembering to stop it at the right time.

  2. I agree with Ragnhild, the videos are well just as they are in length: not too long and be repetitive; not too short and be "empty".
    I also agree in editing them into small self-contained videos.

  3. I agree with the reasoning - I'd rather see one part now and wait till later for the other one. Mathematical concepts don't come at all easily to me anyway, so I like to deal with one idea at a time and be able to go back to them individually.

    I like the occasional long one, like the extra interview footage about higgs bosons and whatnot, but there's no need to ramble.

  4. I don't think that anything changed at all about how you make and upload your videos. It seems that you've most of the time filmed people discussing multiple topics in one go and then edited and released videos about those topics as different videos (and I like that). I think that those complainers just saw the preview of next video and they think that you have them cut, edited and prepared waiting on youtube but you won't release all at once because "views" or something.

  5. Thanks everyone for your feedback - glad some of you are like-minded.

  6. I agree plus I like shorter clips :)

  7. Completely agree. I never saw any problem with it, anyway!