Monday, December 09, 2013

Let Me Tell You About John Green

Biggest discovery I made this year? John Green.

I am deep deep deep in the rabbit hole that is John Green and I've taken Claire, Benjamin and Jeff with me! How did I find myself in this vortex?

First, after seeing it pop up in Amazon searches and on various bookstore shelves, I checked out The Fault in Our Stars from the local library. I think I knew that my sister and read it and enjoyed it. It was great. (One of my three favorite books of 2013.) But, this post isn't just about TFIOS.

As I usually do, I read the acknowledgements at the end of TFIOS where John thanks "the nerd fighters." Hmmm. I had to find out more about nerd fighters.

It gets kind of hazy here... I'm not sure what I discovered when or which bit of Nerdfighteria led to which part of the John Green world.

I discovered that John and his brother Hank started a YouTube project in 2007 where they recorded (under four minute) videos talking to each other every day for an entire year. They talked about current events, family, favorite things, crazy lists, personal news, etc. Tons of people subscribed to their YouTube channel and watched the daily videos. These people eventually became known as Nerd Fighters. Claire is watching all the videos. I think she's somewhere in June.

John and Hank continued their video blogs beyond 2007 with more videos under the Vlog Brothers name. Theirs was one of the first YouTube channels to reach one million subscribers. That's a lot of Nerd Fighters. Currently, they upload two videos a week. Hank's video this week was about The Hunger Games and the reality of inequality.

They coined and popularized the phrase "Don't Forget To Be Awesome." It's not just a catchy slogan. It really is a way to live and think and treat each other. They support other creative YouTube channels and creative types with their DFTBA website.

But wait, there's more!
John and Hank also created Crash Course an incredibly comprehensive and entertaining educational You Tube channel covering six different subjects: American History, World History, Chemistry, Ecology, Biology and Literature. There are nearly 200 videos on Crash Course! Each video is five to fifteen minutes of brilliantly written, informative, creatively produced content.

Jeff and Benjamin are working their way through World History and it really is amazing how much knowledge Benjamin has gained -- and retained. Sometimes I watch with them... like this.

Still more...
John also regularly records awesome list videos for Mental Floss's YouTube channel. Some of my favorites are 30 Life Hacks Debunked, 48 Names for Things That You Didn't Know Had Names and 107 Regional Slang Words.

More still...
Hank and John created lots of ways for Nerdfighters to give back. In fact, they actually created a non-profit organization called The Foundation to Decrease World Suck. In fact, every year they run a project call "Project for Awesome" where anyone (nerd fighters, mostly) can create videos about their favorite charities. Last year the Project for Awesome raised over $400,000. They also regularly promote Kiva.

A bit more in bullet form...

  • You know artists are always talking about copyright? Here's what John has to say.
  • John says that collaboration is the greatest quality in humanity. Hank says it's curiosity. What do you think?
  • John's very candid video about anxiety, depression and perspective is important.
  • Hank's video about the size of the universe is epic. It has "NO EDGE!" He goes on to suggest that our ability *understand* the concept of an infinite universe is actually even more incredible than the universe itself.
  • TFIOS movie will be released next year. Yeah!
  • John has written several other books. Claire read TFIOS and she just finished Paper Towns.
  • You may have seen John's video about the Affordable Care Act. Sometimes his videos go truly viral. This one popped up on Facebook quite a bit.

The reason why all this stuff is really important to me? John makes us think. He doesn't bother discussing whether it's cool to be informed, smart and curious... he just acts informed, smart and curious and assumes everyone else will do the same. And sometimes silly. And generous.

I'm a little sad I discovered John only recently. It's always been cool to be smart, curious, and creative in our house -- but we didn't have a super hero to lead us. Now we do. Wanna join us in the rabbit hole? Start by reading The Fault In Our Stars and watching some Crash Course videos. And make a Kiva loan.

And Don't Forget To Be Awesome.


Gerrie said...

From one nerd house to another - thanks for this awesome post. Must check this out and share with the nerdy Barnes family!

Lisa Chin said...

My daughter talks about him all the time. Thanks for sharing. I need to watch the crash course youtube videos!

kathy said...

read it this summer and loved it. Also Will Grayson Will Grayson after that. Now I can dig deeper. Thanks! Again!

Lyric said...

oh dear am I in trouble. kidlets and I just spent time watching several o this videos. I seriously don't have time for this…..

Leslie Tucker Jenison said...

I've been meaning to read his book and now I'm putting on the top of the e-stack.
A great post, Deborah! As Gerrie said: "From one nerd house to another".
I think curiosity is the most important thing.

Kristin L said...

Thanks for the hot tips. K is studying WWI right now so she really enjoyed the two Crash Course videos on it.