“Be so good that you don’t even have to think about algorithms.” – Matt D’Avella
January 5th, 2021 marks a great milestone for my mailbox. It will finally have a break from all of the election mailers from the voting groups in the United States. I love participating in my elections and choose to inform myself in matters of policy. The last couple of weeks have been quite hectic, however, as I have received anywhere between 100-200 pieces of mail inviting me to vote, reminding me of how important this run-off election is, or trying to tap into my emotions to cast my ballot in one way or another. These ballots have served as a reminder to me that our current culture of content creation and outreach rewards fast content over meaningful one. If you are unfamiliar with the concept, it is the simple idea that content released in rapid succession will allow you to reach more readers, subscribers, etc.
This approach delivers mixed results. On the one hand, subscribers get a constant stream of news, media, videos, or interesting articles that inform them about their preferences. On the other, it sometimes comes at the expense of quality and/or thoroughness. Looking at the amount of videos produced by some YouTube creators (including myself!) this past year, I tend to wonder if we are serving our audiences with content that is thorough and meaningful or just trying to make a quick dollar and trying to appease the YouTube algorithm.
“I even forgot about my mission to help others find a solution to recover their balance and decided to go the easy route of fast content creation.”
During 2020, I started my YouTube channel and saw a decent amount of sucess in creating content (thanks to all who subscribed!). I enjoyed making videos on topics about Digital Minimalism, testing devices that encourage digital wellness, and making vlogs that showcased my journey. As the year progressed, however, the analytics page got into my head. All the talk about the algorithm, SEO, and watch time became overwhelming and I tied my success to the metrics of my channel and not the stories, concepts, and devices that I wanted to showcase. I even forgot about my mission to help others find a solution to recover their balance and decided to go the easy route of fast content creation.
As the hopeful year of 2021 continues, however, I want to express my committment to produce, write, and create content that is not only entertaining or informative, but also meaningful. While the temptation of fast content is always a click away, I am determined to create high quality work that is not focused on bowing down to the algorithm and preoccupied with the analytics. Instead, my content will focus on helping people understand the need for balance in our digital era.
In his book, Deep Work, Cal Newport, professor of computer science at Georgetown University, mentions the following “To produce at your peak level you need to work for extended periods with full concentration on a single task free from distraction. Put another way, the type of work that optimizes your performance is deep work.” This path is not easy in a culture that rewards fast content, but it is the path I choose to follow. As Matt D’Avella, documentary filmmaker, states in his twitter page, I want to “Be so good that [I] don’t even have to think about algorithms.”