So let me start out here by noting that (a) I am eternally unsatisfied with the present, (b) Fight Aging! has been more or less static in traffic, scope, and focus for at least five years, and (c) past changes have come slowly, usually proceeded by a few years of rumbling. Time waits for no man, however, and it is ever the case that the modest efforts I make here could be better, could achieve more, and could consume more of my time than they do.
So without any particular ordering or desire to see anything happen immediately, here are some possible future directions.
Dumb it Down
Fight Aging! is heavy on the raw, undigested science these days: links to papers, quoted research abstracts. Unsurprisingly, there isn't much of a market for that sort of thing falling into your in-box - most people still run the other way when presented with scientific publications. In a way its been something of a surprise to see that the continued level of traffic that does wander past the front door and subscribe to the newsletter.
One time-worn approach to reaching a wider audience is to dumb things down (the uncharitable viewpoint) or replace the raw output of the scientific method with interpretation and explanation (the charitable viewpoint). In the context of Fight Aging!, this would mean posting fewer straight links to papers and quotes from those papers, replacing all of that with short articles that provide analysis and commentary on research - an emphasis on explanations of relevance and place in the growing foundations of tomorrow's biotechnology and medical science.
This would necessarily mean a slower pace of posting; perhaps once-a-day or thrice-a-week sort of schedule. Time is ever at a premium, and the time taken to write and think is time not taken to wade through papers, news, and blogs to discover new and interesting trinkets.
This might wind up more valuable, or it might wind up less valuable. Traffic generally falls off when you slow down, but traffic is an extremely poor measure of engagement or persuasion - in fact, pretty much everything you can measure is a poor representation of engagement or persuasion. I have my doubts that even actual revenue in for-profit businesses is a good proxy for these things.
Take the Advertising / Social Network / Traffic-Growing Path
There is a fairly standard playbook for growing traffic to a web site or subscriptions to a newsletter. At a very basic level it involves selling ads and then plowing that revenue into advertising for new traffic and new subscribers. If you manage it very well and you have something that people want to read, it's possible to grow at breakeven or a manageable cost that might later be recouped by cutting back on the spending.
Involving social networks in this model offers some additional options to replace the use of money with the use of time and cleverness, but follows much the same path: you are running a growth engine that tries to pull in people at one end and uses the fact that they passed through in order to convince more people to try it out.
But note my comments above on engagement and persuasion. Insofar as I care about anything that results from a visitor's time at Fight Aging!, I am interesting in convincing people to donate to SENS, to buy into engineered longevity as a goal, and then to convince their friends. These things are all exceedingly hard to measure, but if plunging into the traffic-growth business, one has to start by taking it on faith that increased traffic will lead to more of whatever it is you want people to take away from your site.
The flip side here is that you also have to take it on faith that the significant changes made to a site that are necessary in order to take the advertising / social network traffic growth path will not impact the message. The reasons why I have never taken that path in the past relate to this. For example, I'm sure you can imagine the sort of advertisers that would want to have their products touted here; any sort of easily managed integration with an advertising network would produce a deluge of "anti-aging" lies and nonsense. It's impossible to filter those things in a reasonable amount of time, and I'd end up looking just like every other opportunist with a web site.
In a market where fraud is so loud, well funded, and well entrenched that its proponents cause problems for the legitimate research and development community, it requires a significant investment in time (at a minimum) to proceed without being tainted.
Lastly, it should be noted that generating advertising revenue is not a matter of just sticking ads on a site and continuing as you were. You have to chase the most valuable forms of advertising, which means that the content must adapt itself to the advertiser if you wish to have any meaningful success. That again is great way to lose your way as a voice or a viewpoint or a set of goals.
The fundamental challenge here is that there are next to no ethical products and services relating to human longevity. I could probably rattle off a few: calorie restriction self-help materials, exercise gear, medical tourism resources, books from the small number of more reputable authors, and so forth. But I'd be hard pressed to name many more than a dozen categories here. This is an industry still well in its money sink phase: life science research and fundraising is the only meaningful game in town.
Change the Core Message
The core message of Fight Aging!, the one page I want everyone to read, is broadly educational in nature. It is, perhaps naively, intended as a thin bridge across the gaping chasm that lies between (a) someone who knows next to nothing of longevity science, but is vaguely interested in health and longevity, and (b) someone who knows enough to be interested in and a potential supporter of the Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence.
A range of assumptions are baked into this, such as the idea that it is a process to get from point (a) to point (b), and that this is an important pathway for people to follow today. Implicit in that are some opinions on where SENS supporters come from in terms of their journey through health matters and an awareness of scientific research - see the community diagram for example, which seems still moderately relevant some eight years later. I may or may not be right about any of this. I might have been right back in 2001, but things may be sufficiently different now that a new approach would be better.
Regardless, insofar as I'm selling SENS, it's a soft and gradual sell. I'm convinced that, at this time and for the next few years at the very least, delivering money to the SENS Foundation and its aura of allied research groups is the best thing we could all be doing for our future wellbeing. Significant extension of our healthy lives will only come from ways to rejuvenate the old and prevent aging - and no-one else is credibly working on that yet. I haven't made a habit of pushing that message until people revolt from the mere mention of it, however. From an intellectual perspective, I'd rather folk came to the same position as I have on their own, given the data and background to think on it.
There is a debate that might be had here on the value of direct and more forceful persuasion versus building the environment within which a much smaller number of people convince themselves - but it's a long one, so I'll pass it over for now.
Nonetheless, Fight Aging! could be reworked as a much harder sell: a fundraising site that also delivers relevant news as opposed to a news and interest site that happens to tout SENS as a charitable cause. This is actually more of a radical change than it might sound when stated that way.
Write a Book
There is certainly enough material here to digest into a book, and then rework the site to focus on it, but books age poorly. A book and its launch is something like a party: something you do once, bask in the glow for fifteen minutes or so, and then move on with life. If you're not drawing much attention with your ongoing writing, then a book is unlikely to change that state of affairs. Good reasons to write a book are (a) because you can't not write it, and (b) you have gathered a lot of attention already and would like to capitalize on that.
So as I see it, writing a book in order to generate more attention in the long term is getting things exactly backwards. About the only argument with merit that I can see for digesting a book from Fight Aging! is to better organize the entire, broader message presented here - but other books, more successful than I could ever reasonably expect to be, already do this, have done this over the past decade, and continue to emerge to do this on an ongoing basis.
Offer Consulting Services
It might be naive, but one has to imagine that by this time everything I've learned and considered on the topic of longevity science might be worth something to someone - if it could be rendered into some sort of palatable form. If you close your eyes it might be possible to envisage a future Fight Aging! that looks like a strategic consultancy, offering white papers and presentations to the corporate risk assessment world, or some other hypothetical customer that doesn't already know all I that I understand about this one facet of technological progress.
This is a venerable market, but the question is whether or not taking this direction - even if successful, which is a big if - helps the bottom line more than what I'm doing now, or more than any of these other hypothetical paths forward. That bottom line of course comes back to engagement, persuasion, and funds raised for SENS.
Do I know where I'm going with this? Hell no, and any of the smart long-time readers could do just as well with a course of suggestions, I'm sure. But life is change: you don't change, you don't do better, and I think that Fight Aging! is well past the point at which something should be tried.