Nobody is watching

At the start, nobody is watching. Attention seems to be exponential; it’s why we have phenomena like “overnight success”. Obviously, the success didn’t happen overnight, a point was just reached where shit hit the fan.

  • Streamers like Shroud were streaming for years before they topped 10 viewers

  • Vloggers like David Dobrik published content for years before they blew up

  • Paul Graham wrote essays 5+ years before they became silicon valley gospel

Effort compounds, and it seems to be one of the most lagging indicators. It’s why it takes forever to build an audience which extends far beyond its peak.

There are creators and consumers, and with content being able to be so quickly and easily consumed, producers are at a higher demand than ever. People crave content because it’s delivered so instantaneously to them, and yet people are spending more and more time and effort to deliver that content. Editing Vlogs for 10 hours, meticulously crafting the perfect essay, obsessing over perfect code because the demand is so high and the power law is in full effect.

Being able to produce something without an audience is almost a superpower. Most people need extrinsic motivation to continue going, and with so much instantaneous content available and so little effort to attain it, why would you be a producer? Why spend 10 hours crafting your first vlog when it takes 10 seconds to start rewatching Friends? Why read that book when Twitter unleashes 10x more dopamine? Why not try something new, realize it’s not going anywhere, and then quit pseudo-immediately to play Call of Duty?

I’m guilty of this. Hell, this whole blog is an attempt in something new that will likely be forgotten about in a year, let alone 5.

Except, sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes you produce something from nothing. When Torvald sent out an email for what became Linux he stated “Just a hobby, won’t be big and professional like GNU”. When Palmer Luckey dumped the Oculus Rift on kickstarter with “The goal is to pay for the costs of parts, manufacturing, shipping, and credit card/Kickstarter fees with about $10 left over for a celebratory pizza and beer.” But Linux was full of bugs and the Oculus was a taped together piece of PVC.

The fact of the matter is, most things start out shit and get better, but they should start out somehow and move forward. You’re maximizing for number of times at bat. You’re gonna have to spend an eternity in the cage if you want to spend a minute in the spotlight. There are only two alternatives; either it was frivolous and a neat experience, or it changed your life.

So, who cares, you should probably just do the thing anyways because nobody is watching, but someday everybody might be.