Succes story and some thoughts about sharing your research

5,6 mio views from this post on Thrillist. The author, Ian MacIness, kindly asked me if he could make a digest of my short movie. I said yes, and the viewing stats proved me right.

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This is actually twice the viewing stats from my first short movie, shared on Youtube by the Figaro in 2011, now at 2,6 mio views

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Well, I dare say that I can now consider these short movies as relevant public outreach for my research. When I started these projects, as a scholar willing to widen the audience of my research endeavours, I was mocked by colleagues and discouraged by elder scholars or professors. Much has been done lately to encourage open access publishing and new media to disseminate research to a wider audience. The main idea is of course to go passed the usually restricted readership of scholarly publication. My story can be considered a success story in this regard. Not only am I publishing mainly open access (and encouraging it as editor of an Open Access journal), but I did explore new areas for disseminating research, using channels connected to museums with the popular video format.

All my short movies have been produced for display in museum's exhibitions, and then shared openly with creative commons credentials. The social networks channels helped a lot relaying this endeavour, and lead to mainstream publication platform such as gizmodo, reddit, or thrillist. This is not what a scholar usually aims for, but it definitely boosted the views. More importantly, this "success", gave way to a lot of interest from mid or high-level institutions. I'm trying to keep track of where my short movies are displayed, but I lost the count long ago. According to my notes, all or parts of my short movies are displayed or have been displayed in the following institutions:

 On display @ National Museum of Slovenia

On display @ National Museum of Slovenia

  • National Museum of the Middle Ages (Paris, FR)
  • National Museum of Slovenia (Lubljana, SLO)
  • Metropolitan Museum (New York, USA)
  • Royal Netherlands Army Museum (Delft, NL)
  • Castle of Malbrouck (Manderen, FR)
  • Castle of Morges (Morges, CH)
  • Castle of Chillon (Chillon, CH)
  • Castle of Chinon (Chinon, FR)
  • Castle of Haut-Koenigsbourg (Orschwiller, FR)
  • Castle of Posterstein (Posterstein, GE)
  • ... (if you happen to know other museum displaying my work, drop me a note)

The flip side of the coin

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So I believe some ingredients for the success are:

  • a popular (or appealing?) topic
  • scholarly sound work
  • short video format
  • open access publishing
  • choosing the right channels for dissemination

One key feature for me was that I chose to merge the paths of academic and patrimonial institutions, and I am successful so far. One on hand, pursuing to produce hardcore scientific content (scholarly research), and on the other caring about the mediation of the results to a wider audience through the channels of museum exhibitions. Both open access publishing and openly sharing on video format, relayed through social media were essential.

I feel blessed nowadays, with my viewing stats, my new book, the press release of few newspaper articles, the invitations as keynote speakers, and so on. I should plan the production of new short movies;)

... and the other side of the coin

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I have been often criticised, envied, or even fiercely attacked. To a certain extent, this is part of the game. And as I always said as a scholar, you actually write to be criticised. It doesn't help much to produce research on your own yard without sharing it (or to wait eternally until you believe that your work reaches perfection - perfection does not exist). This is also true for producing short movies. I am not uploading on Youtube hoping that everybody will be pleased. I know that it will raise criticism (and rightly so). "Publish or perish" says the famous PhD comics, this is not only true for scholars, this is true as well for anyone aiming to humbly contribute to the advancement of knowledge. This has never been about personal glorification, those who would follow this goal, will be disappointed.

Fellow scholars, readers, or affictionados, keep doing good work and you will be rewarded! I hope my relative success will help or inspire others!

to friends...

Writing a scholarly article usually begins or ends with an acknowledgement. For a small blog article, there is few rules, but I am willing to thank a few friends. I am a medievalist, I am not trained in video editing, filming, nor am I expert in community management or crowdfunding. And as an armoured fighter, I can not really exist without sparring partners. When I started to produce short movies, I was an amateur with no idea of what I was actually doing (and I still am an amateur, I just have better ideas about what I want to achieve...). Without those friends who helped me, I would not be standing where I am now. Whether you have helped me, inspired me, or fought me, thank you!

Thomas Schmuziger, Julien Vuagniaux, Vincent Deluz, Julien Donzé, NIcolas Saucy, Loïs Forster, Nicolas Baptiste, David Ott...