Jared White Photo of Jared

Expressively publishing on the open web since 1996.
Entranced by Portland, Oregon since 2017.

Issue #19: The Rise of Nebula, Elon-gate, and Rebuilding Social

Creator Class

The challenges and rewards of being an indie content creator building an audience one connection at a time.

Have you been enjoying Creator Class? 😃🙏 Now you can support me on:


At the risk of sounding like a total fanboy, I am in awe of what Nebula has accomplished. (And no, I don't have any affiliation with them and they aren't a sponsor of this newsletter.)

Nebula is a paid streaming platform for videos and podcasts which is run by creators and for creators. Really. They aren't VC-backed or secretly an arm of some big media conglomerate. They're a bootstrapped company that's slowly growing into a noteworthy counterpoint to the Google-run free-for-all that is YouTube.

The person who started Nebula, Dave Wiskus, is essentially a musician, designer, and computer geek who for a time was helping other YouTubers broker ad deals under the very under-the-radar auspices of Standard. After a period of great success with building this network of creators, the idea for a new video streaming service featuring Standard creators arose which led to the launch of Nebula.

Dave just posted a 600,000 Nebula subscribers milestone blog post, and last year he was interviewed on the Genesis podcast which I found incredibly interesting and rather inspiring. For a variety of reasons, when Dave was younger there was every indication he would amount to nothing. He was painfully shy and socially awkward, and didn't have any prospects to speak of. A string of successes later in life was only possible because of a moment in time when he made the conscious choice to rebuild his personality so that he could be successful as a public figure.

My life story isn't nearly as dramatic in that sense, but I too have made conscious decisions over the years to transform myself into the creator and businessman I want to be. Being successful at any significant endeavor, putting yourself out there, making a name for yourself, becoming a "somebody" — these things rarely just happen. You have to make them happen. The funny thing about being "authentic" as a creator is that the truly authentic "you" may actually be…well, rather boring. 😂 Sometimes you need to change in order to become interesting. The Cal Newport book So Good They Can't Ignore You touches on this. The secret to lasting success isn't to ethereally "follow your passions" and "live your dreams". It's to become skilled at things audiences want while falling in love with your craft (whatever that may be) as you master it.

But back to Nebula. It turns out, I predicted Nebula all the way back in 2019 on my podcast, months before Nebula launched! Well…sort of. I had speculated in Episode 24 that some big creators would decide to ditch YouTube and launch their own streaming service. I got the "ditch YouTube" part wrong, but otherwise that episode was prescient. And not just about that, but about some other recent development in social media. Listen to Episode 81 to hear my recap of my 2019 predictions and how some of them are playing out today!

I also published an essay on my website titled The Elon-gate'd Man wherein I talk not about Elon Musk per se, but about the ridiculous phenomenon of Silicon Valley-style boy geniuses who keep wowing the tech community with their seemingly innovative ideas and business saavy…only to later find out they were, well, full of shit. It seems some people are desperate to find the "next Steve Jobs"—but let's face it, there has only ever been or will ever be one Steve Jobs. Stop trying to crown a successor! As I wrote in the article:

The tech industry has matured. It must mature…and with this maturity has to come broader awareness that Big Tech can’t simply act like 21st century echoes of the robber barons. Either the tech sector must demonstrate its ability to police itself and show good corporate governance and a willingness to let bottom-up creativity and entrepreneurship flourish in the marketplace of ideas, or we must call for increased regulatory scrutiny on all fronts.


We need to shout from the rooftops that we’re done playing at being digital serfs in a neo-feudalist commercial hellscape. No more of it. We are done.

Thankfully, we're now witnessing a fantastic and incredible moment in time where the rules of digital engagement are out the window. Our relationship to online communication, commerce, and creativity is being reexamined, and new platforms based not on zero-sum, growth-at-all-costs VC-fueled corporate muscle but on open protocols, open source software, and real communities of everyday people are once again at the vanguard of evolution on the open web.

It's about time.

We have a real chance to rebuild social, to transform the fabric of how people around the world relate to one another online, and to rely not on the scraping of user data or the big money of ad men, but on the ingenuity and generosity of people who truly care about a healthy and safe internet. Am I sounding like a hippie now? Yep! But that's who I am. I'm constantly optimistic that the web is inherently a transformative technology for good that will continue to resist all attempts to embrace-and-extend by surveillance capitalists or to extinguish by authoritarian governments.

Could 2023 be The Year of the Fediverse? I desperately hope so.

Stay in the Loop

Look, I get it. You already subscribe to too many newsletters. So much to keep up with. But guess what? I only send out a newsletter once a week. And if you‘re feeling curious, peruse the Creator Class archive. You might find something that resonates with you! It’s a great way to stay current with what I’m publishing, and newsletter recipients always get some extra insight just for them. So what are you waiting for? Let’s roll!

black and white photo of Jared White

I promise to treat your inbox with the utmost respect and maintain your privacy.

More Creator Class This Way