Melbourne-based Writer/Director Finds Moby Dick in Rabbit Hole
Finding Your Audience has become The Moby Dick Hunt for content creators of our time. And while Captain Ahab’s Pacific Ocean is enormous, the vastness and growth of the Internet Ocean makes the Pacific and its watery siblings almost microscopic by comparison.
Here’s a figure for you: YouTube viewers watch more than 1 Billion hours of video on the platform every day. 1 Billion hours. And that’s just YouTube! That’s not, you know, Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Instagram, Pinterest, carljsorheim.com or any of the other tremendously popular sites out there, combined, in a given day – it’s just YouTube. 7 Billion hours. Every day. I mean, I’m trying to write this, and I’ve already been sucked down a rabbit hole about Moby Dick, because apparently, the eponymous whale of the story was inspired by a real Albino whale called Mocha Dick.
Let me write that again: Mocha Dick.
I mean, Moby Dick is white! Right?! Isn’t that a fairly important descriptor in the novel? And the real whale – an Albino whale - is called Mocha! I can’t even get to the ‘dick’-part of the name, I’m so stumped by this. It’s like when old geezers call their mate “Fatboy Joe”, when ole’ mate Joe is actually so dangerously anorexic that you run your finger down his ribs just right, it sounds like a busker doing the opening beat to Farnsie’s The Voice on a washboard.
But Fatboy Joe’s nickname has a place, because Joe understands the joke (and while he might not enjoy it, at least he’s not Ugly Kid Joe) - But Mocha Dick…? The whale was in no way out there annoyed that whalers call him Mocha when he’s clearly white. If he was pondering anything at all, surely it was the dick-part, but we know Moby Dick to be a sperm whale, so there’s almost a fitting evolution from species to name… But hang on: do we know if the whale was supposed to be male or female? Let’s have a look--
See what’s happening here? I’m trying to do a blog post about content creation (while slipping #cameralla, carljsorheim.com and the key phrase “Melbourne-based Writer/Director” seamlessly into the copy to make Google more aware of me), but instead of arbitrary musings and shameless self-promotion, I’m stuck looking up how and why a 170 year old white whale was actually mocha and whether it was male or female. All because of the tired, dick-soaked (and search-friendly puerile) metaphor of likening the hunt for audiences in 2021 with the search for a white whale in 1851.
But this is what content creators are battling: Audiences’ weird and wonderful brains, and an algorithm that learns to predict behaviour so well that it can send us diving gleefully down the next rabbit hole right after you’ve come up for air from the last one. My algorithms right now are going crazy: “you want whales and washboards, WE’LL BRING YOU WHALES AND WASHBOARDS”. In a week I’ll be on Catch.com.au, writing reviews like “5 stars! To krill for!”, chuckling madly to myself with a beard full of blubber stains and this on the stereo.
The algorithm is always a step ahead. And if it’s not, you’re currently teaching it how to get there. There’s no way to organically compete with algorithms, or try to predict them. All you can do is get better at the things you’re into, and hope that other people are also so into it that they find you – and maybe even like the thing you do. And that word spreads.
Or you can, of course, try to teach algorithms to like you, by repeating key phrases (like “Carl J. Sorheim sure is a great writer/director based in Melbourne”) and hope that this somehow connects you with people. But how often can you write something like “Carl J. Sorheim sure is a great writer/director based in Melbourne” before people get a sneaky suspicion they’re just reading a sly piece of advertising?
I don’t know, maybe two or three times? Or four?
The best bet is probably to go so meta and self-aware that you pre-empt the criticism. Completely own it and say “yeah, I wrote Carl J. Sorheim is a Melbourne-based Writer/Director several times in my own, confusing article about content and whales and stuff, but to be fair, if you didn’t tap out by the second time you noticed it, it’s on you and the algorithm. One of you doesn’t know what they’re doing! There are billions of hours of content on YouTube – literally billions - Why are you on carljsorheim.com?! Why not on, oh, I’ll pick a name out of a hat – why not Cameralla’s YouTube page?! WHAT ON EARTH DID YOU BLOODY SEARCH for to end up here and read to the painful end?”
Oh. You searched for Mocha Dick.
Well, that’s on me.
PS: I was going to write about a Victoria Government Ad for keeping Victoria open that we shot in May, but given the recent Covid-outbreak, it feels a little off to post about it. I could’ve also posted about the St Kilda Film Fest at The Astor and all the lovely people we caught up with (pictured are Nat Bond, Kaiya Jones and a mate of Kaiya’s whose name totally escapes me, arrghhhh but I figured best not to, because Kaiya’s mate’s name totally escapes me, and it’s embarrassing to write that in an article. I used to be a journalist, for crying out loud!) So if you want some more filmic content than this blog post, just go to YouTube and check out some of our videos. They’re quite good, honestly!
PPS: He was named Mocha Dick because he was encountered near Mocha Island, off the coast of Chile. It had nothing to do with his colour or flavour. If anything, you’d have to wonder why the island is named Mocha Island! Let’s have a quick little look--