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An important update

Thursday, February 5, 2009, 3:50 PM

This is a quick update to let you know that I have not stepped entirely off the face of the planet. There are several things in the works that you should know about.

The Rowe Conference begins tomorrow (Friday) and I look forward to meeting quite a few of you there. I am very excited at the chance to meet this particular crowd. Being a near-compulsive planner/organizer, I have dedicated quite a lot of time preparing for the conference, as has Becca, who will be leading all the parts on beliefs.

The DVD pricing has been changed. The original, introductory price of roughly $1/disc covered the direct costs of production only, and that’s about it. Fortunately, around that time we had some generous donations come in that subsidized the distribution of those discs. But now that more than 20,000 DVDs have gone out the door at that low, low price, I have raised the prices to help raise some funds. Some have already expressed dissatisfaction at these new prices, but I would like to remind everyone that paying $10 or less for an item that can change your world view is, well, a pretty good deal.

Here are the new prices:

  • 1 DVD - $10 each
  • 10 DVDs - $7 each
  • 30 DVDs - $5 each
  • 50 DVDs - $4 each
  • 100 DVDs - $3 each

As always, if you have a special need or cannot afford these prices, please contact us and we’ll do what we can to accommodate you. I have a special soft spot for anybody distributing DVDs to libraries, schools, and elected officials, so don’t be afraid to ask. But if you can afford a few bucks to try and change a few minds, we could really use your support.

The PBS shoot (WGBY – Springfield MA) is “in the can” and will be broadcast on Tuesday February 10th between 8:00 pm and 9:00 pm. I am still trying to find out if it will be streamed on the Web. If it is, I will post the link as soon as I get it. I’ve seen the pre-final cut and it looks very good. I will almost certainly be there that evening, in the studio, helping to man the phones and field a few questions live. The “format” is three roughly 10-minute seminar sections with a studio audience and a video intro and outro. Since I never do the same thing twice, preferring instead to torture myself, you’ve never seen most of this material.

Regarding offering the Crash Course videos for free on the site, we’ve come to a few decisions. The pressing issue is that in late January we ‘ran out’ of bandwidth. Ron and I have spent a lot of brain-time exploring various approaches to solving this problem and weighing the pros and cons of each. Our decision at this point is to continue to offer the high resolution versions for both registered and subscribed users, but to serve up the YouTube versions for anonymous viewers at the site. We wish it could be otherwise, but at this time it is necessary.

[note: just to be clear,there will always be an available version of Crash Course at this site]  

I will soon begin doing something that I have been very reticent to do in the past, and that is to send out emails to registered users that sometimes have ‘commercial’ content. As I recently wrote in the forums:

Along with this, I will be announcing a change in policy regarding communications from this site back out to registered users. In short, I will be sending out occasional communications that could result in additional revenue to support this site. For example, when the new 3-DVD set for the Crash Course is available, I will send that out. Or I might send out a communication extolling the virtues of being a site subscriber, or announce a membership special or something.

The bottom line is that I have heavily subsidized this site up to this point, and while I wish I was independently wealthy and could simply offer my best work to everyone for free forever, that's just not the case.

So there will be more affiliate relationships, products developed, and other revenue generating materials offered so that I can continue to keep this site running, answer your emails promptly, develop new materials and keep the message moving.

Since we now have over 9,700 registered users, this makes sense as a means of supporting this site and the incredible people who now work with me on this project.

I have a confession to make. I have been a bonehead. While I have secured some of the best help I can imagine, with Ron on the tech side, Amanda on the administrative side, and Michelle answering emails, I have not taken care of myself by finding ways to clear off my desk so that I can do what I do best, which is create new content. But that has changed. This week, two exciting people have been hired to help me out. I now have an assistant and a production assistant. I cannot even begin to tell you how much this has improved my life over the past 3 days.

So here’s what it means, to subscribers, first, and everybody else, second. I am investing quite a bit of money in a production studio (of sorts) that will allow me to produce high-quality video and podcast material with (and this is the magic part!) my role being confined to the generation of the core material itself.

As of last week, I would have spent countless hours poring over technical specifications and prices to source the materials. This week I let that go. By next week, the hardware will be in place, and I will have someone there to edit the material once it’s recorded, leaving me free to carry on at the site and produce new material.

This is where the bonehead part comes in. Why didn’t I do this a long time ago?!

The people I’ve recently hired are young, competent, and full of energy, both for the challenges of the tasks and the mission of this site. (A special thanks goes out to Derek for his role in this miracle. Thanks, Derek!)

So I will now be able to greatly increase the amount of productive time I spend developing new content. There’s the second DVD to finalize (with a study guide and presenter’s pack), I can commit to more frequent podcasts now that my role has been reduced to simply preparing and recording the material, and the entire second part of the Crash Course is now on the drawing board for production (Hint: It’s about the role of beliefs in shaping our actions).

I am incredibly excited by all of this, and I hope you will be, too.

If you support the idea of me producing more material, then you must also support the idea of me needing to raise enough revenue to cover the cost of these bright, energetic people who are helping me in that task.

I can't do it alone. I need your help. I am open to hearing your ideas. I believe I speak for hundreds and possibly thousands of people in thanking those who have supported, and who continue to support, my work. I firmly believe that together we can make a difference.

Best,
Chris

P.S. Thank you to everyone who has been supplying ideas about how to continue to offer the Crash Course for free. I am taking all of your ideas under advisement. Keep them coming!

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26 Comments

jrf29's picture
jrf29
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 18 2008
Posts: 453
Re: An important update

All of this sounds like an excellent idea, Chris.  I can't wait to see the broadcast on WGBY 57.

The only idea I have is the one I stated before, and so I'll regurgitate it here:

I say advertisements, spam, anything is better than reducing the
quality or availability of the Crash Course, which is the crown jewel of the website
and the beacon which draws both registered users and subscribers here.  Potential members will not become receptive to anything else offered by this website until they have first seen the Crash Course material.

People ought to see the Crash Course at its best, since it should represent the very high quality that people
should associate with the website.  I think restricting the CC to only subscribers and registrants is a good compromise.  But another idea is to
post the first several chapters of the Crash Course in high quality
for all to see, then require registration in order to view the rest of the chapters in high quality (or even at all).

That way, the early chapters will still give the unregistered user a taste of the Crash Course at its best,  drawing them into its powerful story and making them want to register in order to see the rest.  And for those who do not wish to do this, it will keep bandwidth down.

Showing the Crash Course to long-time users or subscribers is merely teaching to the choir.  It is the first-time unregistered visitor who is the most valuable asset, both to the website and to its message.  You've got a few precious minutes to pique their curiosity before they wander back to MSNBC.  Their introduction to the Crash Course should at least start on the highest note possible.

I've noticed that YouTube now has both "high quality" and even an HD feature now.  In high quality and certainly in HD the quality of the videos would be excellent.  Does one have to pay in order to upload a video in "high quality" or "HD?"  If not, I'd say that would be an excellent choice for unregistered users.

Davos's picture
Davos
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 17 2008
Posts: 3620
Re: An important update

Jrf29 Wrote:

"But another idea is to
post the first several chapters of the Crash Course in high quality
for all to see, then require registration in order to view the rest of the chapters in high quality "

I'll echo that :) Take care

PS I hope they webcast WGBY, congrads again!

capesurvivor's picture
capesurvivor
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 12 2008
Posts: 963
Re: An important update

Hi Davos,

Scott Burns is a well-known business writer and columnist; I have his books. Today's column in the Boston Globe is astounding to be published in a mainstream paper and echoes Chris. i will drop Scott a line with the web site.

SG

It's not quite yet time to head for the hills, but start preparing for it right now

 

[Ed. note: Removed article and inserted link to cure copyright violation]

capesurvivor's picture
capesurvivor
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 12 2008
Posts: 963
Re: An important update

Sorry, can't get top to format better.

 

SG

ckessel's picture
ckessel
Status: Martenson Brigade Member (Offline)
Joined: Nov 12 2008
Posts: 465
Re: An important update

Chris, Davos or Staff,

Are you going to make a video presentation available of the Rowe Conference? If you are I would like to place an order for one or more copies.

Coop

ckessel's picture
ckessel
Status: Martenson Brigade Member (Offline)
Joined: Nov 12 2008
Posts: 465
Re: An important update

capesurvivor,

Great post. Seeing the main stream media beginning to venture out with the truth is a very good sign.

Thanks

Coop 

ccpetersmd's picture
ccpetersmd
Status: Martenson Brigade Member (Offline)
Joined: Oct 12 2008
Posts: 799
Re: An important update

Congratulations on the new help, Chris!  Many of us are here to support you, as you have been here for us. Let us know what we can do!

demian0311's picture
demian0311
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Jan 30 2009
Posts: 6
Bittorrent?

For maximum reach without incurring bandwidth costs on your end you guys should consider a bittorrent option for downloading the Crash Course.

nickbert's picture
nickbert
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Jan 14 2009
Posts: 1207
Re: An important update

Chris & staff,

If it helps you at all, as awareness grows I think it is VERY important for you to have the Crash Course available in some form (even if just in a low-res YouTube version) to unregistered anonymous members, even if it's a stretch for you.  In the past month I've been finding it's hard enough to convince some of my friends and family to start watching the CC video series at all, even with it being free and not requiring registration or the like (once they get through several chapters they generally gain interest, but it's difficult to get them to that point).  Perhaps people are just naturally stubborn or apathetic or there's a mental defense mechanism involved, but I think your "make it freely available to everyone" approach is incredibly valuable in getting past that and I hope you can keep that going.  Making additional content beyond the CC available to registered users or subscribers makes sense and I would not discourage you from that, but I would insist that you always keep some form of the CC available to non-registered members.  Otherwise you may discourage people from listening who are looking for an excuse not to listen, which sadly seems to be all too common. Anyway, please keep up the great work!

 - Nickbert

admin's picture
admin
Status: Administrator (Offline)
Joined: May 6 2007
Posts: 346
Re: Bittorrent?
demian0311 wrote:

For maximum reach without incurring bandwidth costs on your end you guys should consider a bittorrent option for downloading the Crash Course.

demain0311 -- The Crash Course is available via BitTorrent.  Read here.

Nickbert wrote:

Chris & staff,

If it helps you at all, as awareness grows I think it is VERY important
for you to have the Crash Course available in some form (even if just
in a low-res YouTube version) to unregistered anonymous members, even
if it's a stretch for you.

...

Just so everyone is aware, we always expect to have some version of the Crash Course available to non-registered anonymous users.  There has never been any consideration to remove this and there will never be so.  The question has only been about *what* version of videos to provide to each type of user, so we can effectively manage our bandwidth consumption.

Ron

nickbert's picture
nickbert
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Jan 14 2009
Posts: 1207
Re: Bittorrent?

Admin,

That's wonderful and a great comfort to hear. People may or may not choose to accept the CC information at face value (and either way they choose that is their right), but ensuring it's always readily available could only be a positive thing. Again, thanks for all the great research and hard work!

- Nickbert

admin's picture
admin
Status: Administrator (Offline)
Joined: May 6 2007
Posts: 346
Re: An important update

I think now I am understanding where there may be some confusion on one of Chris' comments in his post.  He made the following statement:

cmartenson wrote:

Our decision at this point is to continue to offer
the high resolution
versions for both registered and subscribed users, but to only offer
the YouTube versions for anonymous viewers.

What Chris means is anonymous viewers will be watching YouTube videos embedded on PeakProsperity.com, not that we are forcing people to have to find the videos on YouTube.  If an anonymous user is watching Crash Course videos here on the site, they are now prompted to register if they would prefer to watch a higher resolution version. 

This was not meant to be that all anonymous visitors will be directed to go to YouTube to watch the videos.  On the contrary, that was never our intent.  All the Crash Course videos are embedded here on the site.  The only question being pondered as part of this change was what type of video to provide to each type of site visitor.

Sorry for any confusion and certainly let us know if there are questions.

Ron

cmartenson's picture
cmartenson
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Jun 7 2007
Posts: 5569
Re: An important update

Thank you Ron for clarifying.

I have amended my wording in the post slightly to amplify this point.

We will always be hosting some version of the Crash Course here, for free, for everybody.

 

 

capesurvivor's picture
capesurvivor
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 12 2008
Posts: 963
Re: An important update

Chris,

Apologies to you for posting in error here; thought I was on Davos' Daily Page. Jason was kind enough to reformat and let me know of my error. 

I emailed Scott Burns with your site info.

Will see you at Rowe. 

SG

 

jkibbe's picture
jkibbe
Status: Martenson Brigade - YouTube Channel Admin (Offline)
Joined: Aug 5 2008
Posts: 71
Re: An important update
jrf29 wrote:

I've noticed that YouTube now has both "high quality" and even an HD feature now.  In high quality and certainly in HD the quality of the videos would be excellent.  Does one have to pay in order to upload a video in "high quality" or "HD?"  If not, I'd say that would be an excellent choice for unregistered users.

According to YouTube support:

Quote:

YouTube recently began offering users an option to view content in high
definition- 720p resolution (when the source upload supports it). Please note,
we are currently experimenting with this feature and optimizing it
accordingly, so we can't guarantee that your videos will always be
transcoded into this format with this user option present.

I'm not sure if the original upload was in 720p (I'm doubting it), but even then there's no guarantee thatYouTube will offer an HD option.  It's certainly worth looking into, though!

Jason

markarsenal's picture
markarsenal
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Nov 1 2008
Posts: 28
Suggestion

Chris - a suggestion:

It's understandable that one should pay a few bucks each for the clam-case DVDs, but these are incredibly wasteful. I leave stacks of them in local coffeehouses, and this would be more efficient if they were in cardstock sleeves or CD-window envelopes. This would also make them cheaper to produce, cheaper to buy, and not waste as many petrochemicals. Something like this that is typically given away en masse rather than sold in a store display seems a better candidate for more conservative packaging.

Thoughts? 

cat233's picture
cat233
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Aug 20 2008
Posts: 575
Re: Suggestion

Hi Mark,

Somewhere in this long thread is a reply to your thoughts.

Cat

http://www.peakprosperity.com/blog/now-available-crash-course-dvd/9213

Nime's picture
Nime
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Jan 29 2009
Posts: 88
Re: Bittorrent?
demian0311 wrote:

For maximum reach without incurring bandwidth costs on your end you guys should consider a bittorrent option for downloading the Crash Course.

This is by far the best method. It doesn't cost a penny once there are seeders seeding it so main site doesn't have to pay for more bandwidth once initial seeding is over. Plus it is possible to distribute Flash version of the course as Flash movie files, which are much smaller (thus easier to transfer) than DVD images yet can be played in high resolution on the computers. BTW - someone is already doing this. YouTube is not a good place to distribute this content because of the 10 mins limit.  

admin's picture
admin
Status: Administrator (Offline)
Joined: May 6 2007
Posts: 346
Re: Bittorrent?
Nime wrote:
demian0311 wrote:

For maximum reach without incurring bandwidth costs on your end you guys should consider a bittorrent option for downloading the Crash Course.

This is by far the best method. It doesn't cost a penny once there are seeders seeding it so main site doesn't have to pay for more bandwidth once initial seeding is over. Plus it is possible to distribute Flash version of the course as Flash movie files, which are much smaller (thus easier to transfer) than DVD images yet can be played in high resolution on the computers. BTW - someone is already doing this. YouTube is not a good place to distribute this content because of the 10 mins limit.  

Nime,

I appreciate the thoughts, but these are all points we have considered and handled. 

First, we have had BitTorrent versions of the Crash Course available for over two months.  All the information about it is here.

Second, while BitTorrent is a great option to have, most Internet users are not technically inclined, or have no interest in learning about it. If I ask anyone in my family if they know what "BitTorrent" is, I would get puzzled looks.  It is not reasonable for us to assume this as a primary source of information delivery ... we need to go with methods that are going to get the Crash Course into as many hands as possible. 

Third, there is more than one source available for content distribution.  You make note of YouTube because of it's 10 minute limitation, but Google Video has no such limits.  There are multiple options for posting and distributing videos.

Ron

 

pinecarr's picture
pinecarr
Status: Diamond Member (Online)
Joined: Apr 13 2008
Posts: 2237
Re: An important update

Hi capesurvivor-

   I thought "Scott Burns" name rang a bell!  After thinking about it, I realized that might be the name of the person who co-authored "Generational Storm" with Laurence Kotlikoff (one of the books on Chris's reading list).  I checked it out, and "Scott Burns" is the co-author.  Do you know if it is the same one by any chance?  If so, it sure would be a great if he took an interest in this site from the e-mail you're sending him, and in Chris's Crash Course! 

 

rmurfster's picture
rmurfster
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 17 2008
Posts: 84
Re: An important update
jrf29 wrote:

...  But another idea is to
post the first several chapters of the Crash Course in high quality
for all to see, then require registration in order to view the rest of the chapters in high quality (or even at all).

Here, here.

I totally agree that having the first 2-3 chapters in high quality for non-registered users would allow them to be introduced to the CC in high quality and then if they want to continue seeing them in high quality, they need to register.  This is an excellent suggestion!

Richard

ckessel's picture
ckessel
Status: Martenson Brigade Member (Offline)
Joined: Nov 12 2008
Posts: 465
Re: Suggestion

markwinston and Admin,

I second the motion as regards a less environmentally impactive cover......maybe recycled paper product for the sleeve?

Coop

Juvysen's picture
Juvysen
Status: Martenson Brigade Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 30 2008
Posts: 121
Re: An important update

Ok, this might have already been discussed, but...

 Are you planning to sell mugs, bags, etc? Like through cafepress or something.  If you put, say, a graph or something with only a little text and then the website, it would (if nothing else) bring in some money and possibly  give people a conversation piece to discuss your ideas with others?  My thought is that people might be more interested in hearing us talk to them if they are the ones to *ask* about it.  Cafe press is *really* easy to use....

 Maybe you've already done this.  I admit I haven't looked into whether or not you have at all. Embarassed

admin's picture
admin
Status: Administrator (Offline)
Joined: May 6 2007
Posts: 346
Re: An important update
rmurfster wrote:

Here, here.

I totally agree that having the first 2-3 chapters in high quality for non-registered users would allow them to be introduced to the CC in high quality and then if they want to continue seeing them in high quality, they need to register.  This is an excellent suggestion!

Richard

As has always been the case, the Introduction and Chapter 20 are high resolution versions for everyone.  These are the two most watched videos on the site.

Ron

 

Nime's picture
Nime
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Jan 29 2009
Posts: 88
Re: Bittorrent?
admin wrote:

I appreciate the thoughts, but these are all points we have considered and handled. 

First, we have had BitTorrent versions of the Crash Course available for over two months.  All the information about it is here.

There is one crucial difference - files you link to are 4 GB DVD images, which I had hard time downloading over my relatively slow link. The torrent I found on TPB is approx. 0.5 GB, contains 20 Flash movie files and plays very nicely on my computer. While one can't burn discs with it and hand them to people to play on DVD players this is IMHO the best method to distribute the CC to people who have computers.  

admin wrote:

Second, while BitTorrent is a great option to have, most Internet users are not technically inclined, or have no interest in learning about it. If I ask anyone in my family if they know what "BitTorrent" is, I would get puzzled looks. 

 

It might be helpful to point users to Opera browser. This is a free Internet browser that contains a BT client built in. This is probably the easiest way to get BT files for non-technical users - they just know that they have to get Opera and then click on a link with it.

admin wrote:

Third, there is more than one source available for content distribution.  You make note of YouTube because of it's 10 minute limitation, but Google Video has no such limits.  There are multiple options for posting and distributing videos.

If I may I suggest you check out Vimeo. Seems to give better quality than YT and has no limit. Of course, it is harder to find content there but if you embed it in the pages this is almost transparent for users.

Hope this helps.

Nichoman's picture
Nichoman
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Nov 1 2008
Posts: 422
Re: An important update
cmartenson wrote:

I have a confession to make.  <snip>, <snip>  I have not taken care of myself by finding ways to clear off my desk so that I can do what I do best, which is create new content. But that has changed. This week, two exciting people have been hired to help me out. I now have an assistant and a production assistant. I cannot even begin to tell you how much this has improved my life over the past 3 days.

<snip> <snip> 

This is where the bonehead part comes in. Why didn’t I do this a long time ago?!

Glad to hear it. Effective delegation and time management is crucial.  This is always a continuing process.   Don't stop!  Recall our earlier discussions.   

 

cmartenson wrote:

I can't do it alone. I need your help. I am open to hearing your ideas. I believe I speak for hundreds and possibly thousands of people in thanking those who have supported, and who continue to support, my work. I firmly believe that together we can make a difference.

Consider a formalized management, feedback process as I've suggested earlier.  Is the organizational structure set up to meet the needs of the mission?  Why? Why Not?  This should frame what next steps are.

 

Nichoman

 

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