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This Star Won't Go Out:

In which John talks about his weekend in Boston, what makes fan communities interesting, and how after ten years of making YouTube videos here at vlogbrothers, it still isn't about the YouTube videos.

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Crowd: Good morning, Hank! it's Tuesday!

John: NerdCon in Boston was so amazing that I barely took any video so I'm just gonna talk over this footage of Hank Green and the Perfect Strangers rocking out to songs about science. I want to try to say now what I struggled to say during the NerdCon closing ceremonies. So I was thinking about Esther a lot this weekend. Esther Earl was a Nerdfighter who, with her friends, helped run the behind the scenes of the Project For Awesome and she died of cancer in 2010 when she was 16. Esther and I met in Boston and her Make-A-Wish brought some of her Nerdfighter friends and I to Boston and now here we were again dancing and singing along to songs Esther loved.

On Saturday I visited her grave with her parents and one of her sisters. A lot of Nerdfighters have visited over the years actually and left artwork and keychains and "This Star Won't Go Out" bracelets. And I was thinking about how Esther met her Nerdfighter friends in the comments of our old Vlog TV live shows. Like, after the shows ended they would stay in the chat room and talk to each other. Their friendship basically happened in a space that we created and then vacated.

Hank, when I look back at the last ten years of Vlogbrothers, I don't really think about the videos. Malcolm Gladwell famously said that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become expert at something but even after far more than 10,000 hours I'm still not really good at making YouTube videos. I mean I can manage a jump cut but that's about it.

So yeah, I don't really think about the videos. I think about people making stuff together and using that stuff to connect with each other. I think about an Amsterdam Nerdfighter gathering in 2008 where two people met who would later get married. I think about the Project For Awesome and scavenger hunts and about how Vlogbrothers is one of the very few channels on YouTube where the comments are often better than the videos.

Ultimately, fandoms are made interesting not by the content but by the people who choose to build communities around the content. Like, Harry Potter is an excellent book series but what makes it special is finally not J. K. Rowling but readers choosing to respond deeply and enthusiastically and without embarrassment or apology by dressing up or writing and reading fanfiction or singing that the weapon we have is love.

Hank, we've been incredibly fortunate over the last decade that so many awesome people have chosen to invest themselves in Nerdfighteria. Sometimes I feel guilty about it because I've benefited so disproportionately from something I only had a small part in creating. Each Tuesday I try to repay a little bit of that debt but it only seems to grow. Which brings me back to Esther. At her grave, I kept wondering how you thank someone who is gone, how you repay them for them for the deep lasting gifts that their love and friendship brought you when you can no longer do anything for them.

She isn't here. When I've lost people I care about, that part never stops feeling new. They aren't here. It cracks me open each time I think it. "She died" is a past tense problem. "She isn't here" is a present-tense problem. But you are here. Whoever you are, however you came upon this video, you are here and we're lucky to have you here and grateful and while we are here together, let's try to be kind and to create spaces where cool stuff can happen.

So, Nerdfighters thank you for your comments and your art and your writing and your collaborations and all the awesome you have brought into the world in the last ten years.

Hank, I will see you on Friday.