Last Thursday night I had the incredible opportunity to see Neil DeGrasse Tyson speak at the Hayden planetarium here in New York about brining STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) to more people and making it a deeper part of our culture. The theme of the event was "First Comes the Dream."
One of my favorite comments of the night was when Neil remarked:
"the extent to which entertainment reaches for the lowest mental acuity is an indication we are not reaching high enough."
I agree completely.
Neil went on to advocate for pop culture as an effective tool to bring people into real education and I got to thinking about how this dovetails pretty nicely with some of our goals at Shelby.
We strongly believe in the power of the internet to surface content that does reach high enough (in part because discovery driven by the user). While a video of a wolf playing with a bear might just be written off as cute to some, it can also act as inspiration for those that want to understand more than they see in the video. When such a video is presented in a collection of video about nature and science, it acts as an entry point that then engages the viewer in something more meaningful for the rest of their viewing session. In addition, the experience of Internet video is not just about the content itself - it’s also about the community and discussion that happens around this video and engages people even more (I’m looking at you, Reddit).
Though the team at Shelby is not (yet) building a spacecraft that will take us on manned missions to Mars, we are really focused on helping everyone (not just the tech enabled) find and engage with the video that tickles the brain more than the average bit of network TV. I’m excited to keep after that vision with Reece and Dan and I’m looking forward to seeing the new Shelby unleashed upon the world.
For a full video of Neil’s talk, check out the embed at the top of this post. Thanks to the awesome crew at Brew PR and Gizmodo for helping put this event together!