• Video Essays by Adam Westbrook

delve doesn’t really belong on the noisy, social web. My videos are not nearly as enticing as a cat video; they do not simplify topics into lists and they don’t try to explain everything you need to know in 90 seconds or less.

They make you wait a bit longer to understand the big idea. Sometimes they start slowly or take a winding detour; and they always ask you to concentrate.

Like I say, delve doesn’t really belong. Many people who see it on YouTube or Vimeo don’t get it but hopefully if you have made it all the way over to this quiet, out of the way, part of the Internet you’re at least a little bit curious.


My name is Adam and I am a professional video essayist.

I am very lucky. Every day, I get to pile through books and discover things I didn’t know about history, science, philosophy, or something else entirely.

Then I work my ass off for several weeks to turn the knowledge I have uncovered into short videos. I call them video essays.

Each time my mission is the same: to push my visual storytelling abilities to the limit and to create a film that is surprising, fascinating and meaningful.

Then I put them up on the noisy, social web, for free and without advertising.

People who have talked about Delve

Not that many people know about delve but those that do seem to like it. It has been compared to the iconic BBC series Connections and described as a visual version of Radiolab.

Webby Award nomination

In 2015 delve was named one of the top science and education channels in the 19th Webby Awards.

So far my films have been watched more than a million times and loved by some of the Internet’s most trusted tastemakers. Colin Hanks tweeted his appreciation and Kobe Bryant once rang me up to tell me he’s a fan.


My hope is that more people will carve out a bit of time in their lives to feed their mind a little feast of wisdom and serendipity.

But right now this little part of the internet is very quiet indeed. Our busy digital world does not reward or encourage deep thinking, learning for the sake of it, or a little bit of reflection.

That is why making time to do it is so important.

Why does delve exist?

Sometimes I say that it’s a project to share knowledge more widely by making complex ideas fascinating. And sometimes that it’s my attempt to make history relevant to our modern world. Both are true.

But probably the most honest answer is that delve is a vehicle. It’s something I have created that forces me to practice telling stories regularly and enables me to share them with other people.

I spend a lot more time on the process of story design, and becoming a better storyteller than on other things like branding or social media.

What is story design?

Story Design is the intentional application of a small number of principles to the telling of a story. I am learning what these principles are as I go along. It adds discipline to the process and avoids me using the first idea that pops into my head.

Instead of trying to explain an idea logically and predictably, I work to weave a narrative full of mystery, intrigue, surprise and suspense, that leaves you with an emotional idea.

What is a video essay?

Video essays take many forms. The most popular is the film-analysis-through-video, where a film or cinematic technique are deconstructed by showing clips from movies.

Another category is the essay film: someone makes an argument or conveys an idea but through the medium of video rather than words. delve falls into this category.

How do you find your ideas and stories?

With only a couple of exceptions, in the library! Every delve video essay begins with a book. Either I am inspired by an idea within a book or I try to adapt the idea behind the book in a visual way.

I usually lock myself in a library for a day or two at the start of each project reading as much as I can around an idea.

How can I support your work?

I have launched a campaign on Patreon which allows fans to support my filmmaking through small, regular donations. I’ve produced a host of rewards for patrons - click here to find out more.

Can I keep in touch?

Yes, the best way is to join my mailing list, where you’ll be the first to hear about new videos, and get personal updates on how I am doing. I love receiving emails from readers of the mailing list. Click here to sign up.