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How a Youtube maths educator showed me my blog needed a new focus

This past Saturday, I was sitting in our basement TV room watching Youtube while my wife was enjoying the latest show she found on Netflix in another room.  I decided to browse the video feed of Vi Hart, who usually makes videos about maths, music, and virtual reality.

In this one video, which I had seen years ago but not watched since, Vi Hart describes twelve tone music, also called atonal music.  She refers to the importance of shared context, and how context (for example, imagining a background piano accompaniment) helps interpret and understand the music.  She also compares it to strangers singing their favourite pop hit on the bus -- they head the background, but you don't and it sounds meaningless -- or coworkers telling you about TV or sports you don't watch.  Without the context of background music (or an understanding of the TV show or sport) being presented, it is literally meaningless.  

It's a long video, but the music and lessons in it are both quite beautiful.  I encourage you to watch the whole thing, but the specific point I'm making comes from 3:25 to 4:18.

"Twelve Tones" by Vi Hart.  A fantastic video.  Watch to at least 4:18 for the specific point I'm making here.  But then watch the whole thing.

All that to say is I've come to realize that my blog and its readership (such as it is) generally lack shared context.  I'm writing about the books I'm reading, but nobody in my circle of friends is reading the same thing, or are they likely to.

So that requires a change of focus.

By far the most viewed post I wrote was my letter to my daughter on her six-month birthday.  A number of people even shared kind words with me after they read it.  I'm told close friends and family read my other posts, noting that they often don't know what I'm talking about but read anyways.  This is a very sweet gesture, and I deeply appreciate it.  But the lack of shared context means most people who read my blog aren't getting much out of it.

A few things are staying the same:
  • My Star Wars Read-Through is important to me.  I will continue writing about these, and sharing my views with the various Star Wars fan communities I'm in.
  • I will continue to read other comics and novels and write about them, but unless the novel has wide appeal, or unless I have some specific thoughts to share, I won't make specific posts about them.
As a new way forward, I'll blog a bit more about personal experiences.  I took my daughter to the Canadian Museum of Agriculture and Food this weekend; I will write something soon about that.  I recently traveled for work, and I'm about to again.  

I'm thinking I will conclude my posts with a short segment on what I've recently finished reading.  That way, I can still write about what I'm reading (the original premise of the blog) but also share some more meaningful stories of my own life.

It is my hope that, by introducing shared context, the people who read my blog will get a bit more out of the experience.


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