John Green is best known as the author of Fault in Our Stars. But long before the book was released, he and his brother Hank began working as a tag team of inspiration that advocates for education and engages audiences through science, art, and music.
And while the movie based on the book comes out Friday, both brothers have been in front of cameras long before that, too. For years they have produced several videos a week on various educational topics. There’s one about the science behind the Japanese Nuclear Reactor melting down, another about breaking down the dollar value of various forms of entertainment, and yet another about velociraptors. Each brother brings their own personality to each video, but both use facts and research to make valid points. They share past and present experiences of being nerds; they remind us that being a nerd and being smart is awesome.
This all began New Year’s Day 2007. The brothers decided that they would cease all forms of ‘text based’ communication: No emails, no text messages, no instant messaging. (It’s unclear whether they exchanged hand-written letters.) Instead, they would communicate entirely through video blogs, also referred to as vlogs, which lead to the appropriately named YouTube channel vlogbrothers.
These guys are so much more than video bloggers. They are role models. They regularly use their influence to support businesses in developing countries using a program called Kiva. John Green has written several books; his first was released in 2005. Hank is no less impressive and has been involved in some amazing work over the years. Both write about topics they are passionate about and create products that spread awareness. A character in John’s book has Sarcoma, a form of cancer, and he produced a video in which he encourages people to make donations that would support research. He also promises to match their contribution by 300 percent. Yeah, pretty awesome.
Seven years, more than 5,500 videos and close to a billion views later, what started as a simple resolution with humor and petty bets has grown into one of the most informative and entertaining channels online. There are still petty bets and plenty of silliness, but who says educational stuff can’t be fun?