If you go to his projects blog, https://shane.engineer/ you could see very detailed blog posts in the past that go deeply into the engineering, including code snippets. However, he only really go traction when starting to publish youtube videos, specifically youtube video with a clickbait subject (such as a self aiming basketball hoop).
What YouTube provides is a highly competitive environment that provides creators with constant feedback. This allowed him to identify and his niche as he uploaded more videos. With YouTube, the exposure these projects receive is orders of magnitude higher, while empowering its creators to be self sustainable with ads (and sponsors, patreon, and merch) revenue.
At the end of the day, I think it's a positive change, as it allows more people to create high quality content independently, and in a rewarding way (vs volunteering).
The key issue here is discoverability. We used to have search engines, but with SEO tricks and Google wanting to prop its platforms higher, that doesn't seem to work anymore.
Then, there is the matter of following the blog for updates. Not everyone knows what a RSS feed is. Heck, I wanted to subscribe, but there's no meta tag, nothing in the footer or about page that gives a link to an RSS feed. I even looked at the HTML, hoping to know which blog engine this was running, then looked for its common RSS feed URLs , but that didn't work.
I don't disagree with your other points, but If I ran a blog, I would do it for myself and my readers, not as a billboard for advertisers to show them ads.
Yet here we are discovering it, specifically because he made the video
How can the subject of a video be clickbait? The essence of clickbait is that an interesting title tricks you into clicking on uninteresting content. If the content is as interesting as the title, then it's not clickbait, you're just making something people want to watch.
However, more broadly some people seem to use the term for anything that isn't just blandly descriptive. Headline writers have been pulling out interesting facts or making clever puns or whatever device to persuade people to read stories since before there were clicks. The average headline in The Economist probably qualifies as clickbait if cleverness is off the table.
With that said I think that this is good, it allows Shane to reach a larger audience, and has definitely increased the scope and frequency of projects, which seem like passion projects and fun.
E.g. you expected an engineering approach to building a self aiming basketball hoop but the video turned out to be showing only a lame and failed attempt at such by a high school student trying to milk their YouTube channel.
I found it uninteresting especially thinking you could get your hair cut from a robot.
I think there is a gap between people who have never programmed with electricity and Engineers. If you have never controlled a motor, this is future tech.
If you are a design engineer, this simply doesn't work.
Scrolling trough the home page or even video sidebar, altough heavily personalized, doesn't feel that much different than apathicly zapping trough tv stations in the past. Sure, YT gets the topics mostly correct, but the results are so heavily skewed towards shallow infotainment that is easily consumable and advertiser friendly, that it has become completly useless to me.
If you want to reach a large audience, you need a platform with a large audience. If you want to just publish something for the sake of archiving it, you don't need a large platform.
It's a bit of a tautology.
Shane wants to be a creator, so he needs to play in that competitive space. Which I guess is part of what being a self-sustaining creator is all about.
I have no evidence to back this up, but it seems to me that trying to make a living as a creator is akin to become a rockstar: far less likely than just putting the effort in to get a job in engineering.
EDIT: After scanning his blog, he has tens of thousands of dollars of equipment, or more. (Yes, I am jealous, but that is besides the point.) Perhaps money isn't a problem for him, but I don't know if this is BECAUSE he is a successful maker/creater, or in spite of it. Some catch-22 there.
He basically popularized a whole genre of "here are my rolled-up sleeved forearms doing things" video framing.
A video with just poor sound quality (bad mics, noise) but otherwise excellent is nearly unwatchable. Same with a nasally, monotone, dry and boring speaker.
I'm looking forward to the day when I can walk, unplucked, down the US streets and not get funny looks due to remnants of my middle-eastern heritage!
LONG LIVE THE BROW!