One suggestion to improve Mirai Live

In a word: Curation

The amount of great information ML has amassed has long outgrown the format where you search for a specific topic and then watch a single stream (or listen to a specific podcast). The topics and discussions covered within each piece of content are so broad that users can’t find information quickly (nor can we find all the relevant information). And the information is only useful if we can find it quickly and efficiently.

Each podcast, each stream, once created, should have someone go through and create an index so when you search, you are able to find cues/links that take you to that part of the stream/podcast. In addition (for starters) I would suggest that all of the streams (and cues) are clearly labelled for the date of original broadcast to help contextualize the information.

I noticed that @Bonsai_Bentley posted a comment about the soil science stream pointing out another need for curation. Sometimes information is posted that turns out to be just plain wrong or misleading. This should either be culled in retrospect or be labelled with an advisory which points to more recent updates. The Soil “Science” podcast (and accompanying stream) is case in point. I stopped listening part way through the first one because it seemed like what Ian was espousing was more like a religion than a science. I come from a background in micro- and molecular biology, I was so pumped to hear what he had to say. But my BS meter was off the charts pretty quickly, I just couldn’t continue. And I hasten to add that I love the Asymmetry podcast, I had never turned one off partway through before. I only came back to the third episode when I noticed the description mentioned that things did not turn out well (and even that one was painful to listen through). I wanted to find out what happened.

As @Bonsai_Bentley also points out, Ryan has commented on the record many times that he does not want to write a book because he does not want people pointing out errors in retrospect. But ML has the potential to be so much more than an encyclopedic bonsai book, it can be the most modern up to date reference manual. But that is only as good as the indexing/curation. I recognize that requires investment, but I assure you it is one well worth making.

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I’ve considered cataloging things myself and sharing it in a public spreadsheet. At least getting something started then we can all contribute to it. I gave it a brief go by compiling the larch series. Something like this could be great, but it does start to build an eBook of sorts. Not sure that Ryan is into that, but then again that’s essentially what’s being built.

Idk if it makes sense to build something like this and ask @Eve to pin it to a category. Having too many pins isn’t productive. I do feel like the library is hitting critical mass. Especially with the introduction of the mini streams and two-a-day forum Q&A sessions. All greatly appreciated. They added on to the library at twice the typical rate though.

Ryan keeps hinting at something big coming. I have my own hopes for what it could be. My top two wishlist items are the ability to search on videos that you haven’t seen and the watched checkbox be a bit more than a binary yes/no. Watching the first minute of a 2 hour stream should not flag the video as watched.

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I think it would help (and simplify the work involved for the Mirai team) if the index in the library was more specific.
For example:
When searching in elongating species it could list each species, difficulty of material (ie beginner, intermediate or advanced), technique covered, season and date entered into the library.
There doesn’t really need to be a link to everything as you can remember which video you’ve watched and can make a note of anything specific you require.

Hello all! Thank you so much for these constructive suggestions, I will pass along key notes from this discussion to Ryan. @Bonsai_Bentley you are indeed correct that what is coming will help to sort and filter information. Mirai Live has vastly expanded in the past few years, and it is now becoming more apparent what types of needs our users have and what we can do to fulfill those! We are actively working to make Mirai easier to navigate in terms of information, so your continued suggestions are greatly appreciated and heard!

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Glad to hear that help is coming. My thought was not to publish an exhaustive index for each (although I could see some people finding utility in this). Simply to have a search engine be able to spit out, for e.g., all the mentions of a specific species in the various content pieces, where they occur in a stream or podcast and provide a hot link into that point in the stream so you can focus in and do a deep dive on any specific topic you want, quickly and efficiently.

In addition, if thinking or scientific evidence has shifted on a particular topic, then it would be helpful if the index would point back to previous less accurate content and highlight this for the viewer. I’m sure ML doesn’t want their subscribers relying on outdated info if newer, better info is available (this is the knock against so much bonsai BS out there elsewhere on the net, we subscribe here in part bc we want accurate up to date info). This is what I mean by curation. The team should be annotating old content, pointing to fresher content and in some cases, deleting content entirely if it turns out to be wrong.

No one can blame Ryan and the team for sharing information that subsequently turns out to be wrong or less than accurate. This is the definition of progress, we do our best with the knowledge we have at the time. I totally get his worry about publishing a book for exactly that reason. But when you control and produce all the content, there really isn’t any excuse for leaving out of date information up when you know it has been supplanted/revised subsequently.

I think we all need to back off a little when using terms like “wrong”, or “less than accurate”. Anyone who has studied anything will agree than information is a “living” thing. What is true today can be disproved or improved upon at any given time. When you study a topic you look for the most recent definitions and then go on from there to form your own opinions and data base. I think Ryan has been doing the absolute most with what he knows of so far. And he constantly makes adjustment to his statements when he is made aware of “any” changes he knows of in the info stream. And he admits to errors right up front and I have seen no form of blaming going on either. Anything short of that he risks being the pampas “know it all” that we all know he is not. Seeing what he has done so far with what he started and what he aspires to now leaves me with nothing but admiration and I dare you to give me a better source anywhere. IMHO

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I recognize entirely that there is very little that is black and white in terms of bonsai related information and I was not implying at all that what we get here is anything less than top notch. That’s why I’m a subscriber.

I chose the situation of a piece of information turning out to be wrong or inaccurate as only the most extreme example where this could be corrected after the fact (the soil science eg is the only one I could think of to illustrate this tbh). This is precisely what makes ML a fantastic resource actually, it’s a privately owned/controlled space.

But this is only a side point to my original suggestion. What I’m hoping is that the ML folks will consider developing new tools or approaches that allow us to find and access information quickly and efficiently given how massive the amount of content has become (and how exponentially it is growing).

For eg this morning I was listening to the great Sergio Cuan podcast. As usual, there were tons of ideas that I got from it that I am thinking would be useful to apply to my trees. Take some of the grafting discussion, for eg. If I now want to deep dive into learning more about grafting using ML content. Where do I start?

If I type the word ‘grafting’ into the search engine I get links to about 1900 minutes of content. If I type ‘deciduous grafting’ it’s about 450 minutes worth. And the search output doesn’t including podcasts that mention grafting either so I’m not even ‘finding’ all the relevant pieces of content.

If I’m a beginner I’m probably going to devote the time to reviewing a lot of those streams but it would be nice to know which podcasts are relevant too. Even so, it would be helpful to have search output that helped me focus on that specific topic so I didn’t have to watch through things that aren’t relevant to the topic I’m pursuing.

But what if I have very specific questions about grafting at a more advanced level? Then it would be helpful to have even more granular (curated/indexed) search output. Something I could look through to help pick and choose what to review and ideally presented in a way that I could click through and be taken directly to that point in the podcast/stream.

As I said in my original post, I recognize this is not a trivial thing to put together. It requires investment and I totally accept that from a business perspective this might not be a priority. But I figure if I ask maybe it makes sense to ML and they see the potential value. Personally, I think it would drive subscriptions significantly and also help to maintain existing subscriptions. But that’s JMHO.

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Have to agree with all streams to search today. Better finding system could exist.

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Great suggestion. In some cases I also struggle to find the right video to get the information I need. I like @Bonsai_Bentley ‘s approach to create structure in all the information that is available.

I also kind of like the idea of pinned forum topics (just like “The 8 videos you should start with in the archive” in the beginner section). Speaking for myself as a beginner, I would’ve really found it helpful if there was for example a pinned topic for “Singleflush Pines”. In the opening post of the topic there could be an explanation (maybe something like the picture below) of how to handle this species, with references to the videos in the library (name of the video + timestamp of the explanation). As time progresses and new videos are released about this subject, the first post can be updated.

Please ignore the terrible handwriting!

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I agree that having a way to see how Mirai’s approach to a topic has changed with more experience would be very valuable. However, think about how much time it would take do the type of linkage to specific items in the streams. I take notes like @Gem (but not as well illustrated) and have consolidated some of the topics to post to the forum. I keep an index of the names of the streams, the date, and which book and page it is on. It would take much longer to expand this to include time stamps to the parts I felt were most important to me. Now imagine trying to index timestamps to all of the things that might be important to current and future Mirai members. I think the team does a great job in just getting the material produced at high quality and indexed at that current level.

If Mirai members really want a detailed indexing by timestamp the solution may be to crowd source the effort. Someone could start an overall thread and state they are going to do an index on a topic - say Scots pines. They would then post a document with all of the timestamps related to Scots pines they can find. Others would jump in and do a topic they are passionate about. It would be easy to search the thread for the topic and then review the document. At some point the Mirai team can probably figure out how to incorporate that into the overall search engine without reference to the document. Just a thought.

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Good suggestions @Anthony & everyone. They all sound like great additions to ML. I agree and have often thought myself that innovation around ways of accessing/finding relevant information is the area which could be improved, rather than the quality or quantity of the information.

Any kind of timestamp or indexing would be pretty labour intensive, but a simple summary/notes of each stream, even without the corresponding timestamp, would still be useful.

@MartyWeiser your idea of crowdsourcing the effort to the ML community is a very interesting one. I can think of other businesses who have used a similar approach with success.

Another (or add-on) to the community-driven indexing idea is: For users to be able to comment and add bookmarks along the timeline at any interval. If anyone is familiar with Soundcloud, it works in a similar way I’m how I’m imagining for the ML streams, both live and in the library.

Ryan’s works lately has been on higher skill levels. It’s very aspirational, however way out of my league. I think much of 2020 he has elevated the material and technigues he’s been teaching. I’ve been watching for a couple of years now. I’m not a total beginner but still trying to apply basic skills with consistent success. It would be great if he could revisit some of the techniques he did early on. Especially now he’s mastered teaching on the stream and improved himself so much. For example building on the wiring how-to video and winter care (for those of us without a greenhouse) come to mind. Also building on the comments on indexing, being able to search by specific tree type rather than catergory of tree. Like lodgepole pine not just SN-SF. Thank you. Keep up the great work team!!!

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Hey Aaron, you can already search for a specific type of tree. Here are the results of a lodgepole pine search. That said, idk if the results are accurate. There could be more streams on them.

https://live.bonsaimirai.com/search/results/eyJyZXN1bHRfcGFnZSI6InNlYXJjaFwvcmVzdWx0cyIsImtleXdvcmRzIjoibG9kZ2Vwb2xlIHBpbmUifQ

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I think that Mirai should maybe to an app tied to the website so you can file away specific videos that may pertain to your own garden. The app also include a customizable way to create a garden specific journal. Where you could upload pictures of your trees and keep specific data logged about what type of operations you performed on your trees and when(like a calendar of events under each tree) that way you can go back in time and say for example look at exactly when I decandled my JPB this year, and if I wish to achieve different results next year I know exactly what day I did it on. Then I would be able to adjust my date from last year to further enhance my accuracy for timing in the current year. Or if everything was perfect I could stay on the same schedule every year until the end of time.