Asynchronous Video Threading

I spent the day on Seesmic yesterday and had a 90-post conversation involving several of the members. I’ll say first of all that Seesmic has made TONS of improvements since Andrew Lipson gave me an invite 3 months ago. They’re always making improvements to their site, so this post may very well be outdated relatively soon. ๐Ÿ™‚

If you don’t know what Seesmic is, it’s basically like having a conversation with people on a bunch of stickies. In a way, it’s like Twitter, except it’s video and audio instead of text. You get to record a video which goes into the “public” timeline, and other people can watch it just about as soon as you post it. People who see your video can record their own video and make it a reply to your video if they so choose.

They relatively recently implemented threading as a one-dimensional, reverse chronological timeline. This was way better than no threading AT ALL ๐Ÿ˜€ but having held a several-hour-long conversation on it that was about actual intellectual concepts, not “what to name a dog” or “who’s going on a date tonight”, I got to experience the downsides of asynchronous video threading in Seesmic’s current format.

The reason I make a point of it being asynchronous is that it’s not a real-time conversation. It’s more like twitter or an email group than it is like Yahoo Live where several people speak to each other simultaneously, or even chat rooms, where everyone’s there at the same time and can jump in with their opinions if they feel like it.

Liz Burr made some excellent points that I hadn’t paid attention to as I was absorbing so many other things during a full day’s use of the app. Someone had made the point that because you record your own video and decide when to stop it, you get to say what you want in its entirety without being interrupted. Liz mentioned that since it’s asynchronous, you can be turned OFF at ANY point, or not listened to at all, as your screen name and icon are attached to your video in the thread. This means you have more of a chance of not.being.heard.at.all. if someone decides that what you have to say isn’t worth listening to based on your behaviors and what you had to say in previous videos. I “knew” this, but I hadn’t processed it until she mentioned it to me. I was already employing that behavior, for example, after listening to a post from someone that I determined was garbage, I would skip anything with their face on it after that.

At this point, I should mention how Seesmic is set up for people to become aware of people’s posts. It’s important to understand this to understand why one-dimensional threading is NOT optimal for an application like this. There’s a “public” timeline that catches everyone’s videos. This is world-wide, but you can set it to only pick up posts in your language. That’s still A LOT of people, and it’s not even open to the public yet. Your next option is a “friends” timeline. You get to choose to “follow” people, and only their videos will show up in this timeline. This is another way you can elect to bypass people whom you’ve determined have nothing valid or intelligent to say… don’t “follow” them. They’ll still show up if you’re looking at a thread that they’ve contributed videos to, but then you resort to visual parsing and skip them as usual.

These abilities to select people to follow and people to “allow to speak” by clicking on their videos and watching them all the way to the end absolutely alters each person’s perception of a thread they arrive to. Seesmic member Otir read a perfect analogy of the situation, telling the story of a bunch of blind people whom were all offered different sections of an elephant to feel and then to give their opinion of what an elephant is like. Each of them had their own perception of “an elephant”, and that perception colored what they had to say about elephants.

First of all, if you’re following certain people, their posts come up in your “friends” timeline. If you click on the member’s icon, you go straight to their opinion. That’s a good thing. However, you’re jumping in in the middle of the thread. You can click “conversation” and see the entire list of posts in that thread. This is where your personal bias comes into play. If you don’t have any respect for the people earlier in the timeline, you might skip their videos entirely, bypassing much of the context of the situation. If there are a whole lot of videos before the person you’re following, you might not be inclined to watch an hour’s worth of posts before you enjoy what you really came here to see… thus, bypassing much of the context of the situation. If you’ve determined that the person you’re following is more credible than others in the thread, you may be inclined to reply along the lines of that personal bias. This is where we get the blind people approaching the elephant from different sides and angles.

Another “problem” with this layout is that what you’re looking at is NOT actually linear other than chronologically. The posts are laid out by the TIME that they were posted to the site, but they are not differentiated by the TANGENT of the thread that that particular post followed. This leads to a circular, “telephone game” situation, because people show up to a thread hours after it started, read something a “friend” of theirs posted, which was dealt with hours ago, and respond to that person’s post without watching all of the surrounding material.

My thread was 90 posts long. Even if each person took only one minute to say what they had to say (and I’ve seen videos that were 5 minutes long, so if there’s a time limit on individual videos, it’s NOT shorter than that), that means that to absorb the entire thread, you’d have to sit there as long as a feature film. People aren’t going to wait that long to reply. As a matter of fact, people started showing up and making NEW threads asking for someone to summarize my thread because they didn’t want to go back and read it all. This is another way that posts get “lost in the sauce”. People show up and want to be involved, but don’t want to put in the work to go back and experience each post.

Another reason it becomes circular is let’s say you have three tangents in a thread. As the original thread participants scramble “left and right” (since it’s all appearing as a one-dimensional timeline) to deal with tangents, 20 posts down the line, someone reads something from a tangent that was already resolved, hits “reply” and now, your 21st post is actually a response to your 5th post. :/ Then, THEIR “friends” see what THEY posted and continue the previously resolved tangent, causing the original thread participants to scramble over there and put out THAT fire… AGAIN. :/ Meanwhile, the thread splinters more and more and is misinterpreted more and more but LOOKS like a single, chronologically-ordered discussion. The snowball rolls further downhill when someone shows up to post #60, which is really only three posts removed from post #5 and doesn’t want to read the rest of the material, so they assume that all 60 posts have been along the same tangent.

Like I said, this only comes into play if you’re trying to have an intelligent conversation. If you’re just socializing via video, you don’t need to worry about tangents and following thoughts and concepts. You just throw up a “me too” post and you’re good… you feel like you’re a part of the conversation, whether people are “following” you or not.

Jan McLaughlin mentioned an addition that I think would work very well in these situations… the ability for the originator to moderate their thread. I suppose the ability to assign mods would be useful as well. A couple of days ago, I left a 32-post thread of mine for a few hours and when I returned, it was around 60. Thinking that there was much interesting material to sift through, I clicked on it, only to realize that two people had started online dating in my thread. :/ Instead of taking their chances in the “public” timeline, the best way to try to get each other’s attention was to click “reply” so that it would show up in their “replies” folder (an alternative timeline to “public” or “friends”. The unfortunate side-effect of this was that as they kept “reply”ing to each other, their posts were being added to my thread.

It would be lovely to have a way to separate irrelevant posts from your thread. It would be lovely to be able to remove videos posted to your thread by people that just showed up to act dumb. Not *delete* them, just remove them from YOUR thread so that new people arriving after the fact wouldn’t bail on your 70-post thread because there are 30 posts worth of online dating inside it that’s completely indistinguishable from on-point conversation in a one-dimensional reverse chronological timeline.

Seesmic’s making tons of improvements, so I’m sure features are coming down the line that will facilitate intelligent conversation, such as GROUPS. The ability to have a discussion only amongst the people that *you* choose would be a major development. There’s no need to block others from reading it. Just stop them from diluting the content and making the originators waste time running around putting out fires. Like I said, they’ve progressed in leaps and bounds in the three months that I’ve been on the service.

Personally, I’m a fan of synchronous interaction, whether we’re talking live video or text chat. Even IRL, I enjoy holding arguments against 5 people at a time. ๐Ÿ˜€ The upside of asynchronous conversation is that you only have to make your point ONCE, and everyone hears it and we can all move forward and explore greater depths of the conversation. The downside is that you have to actually BE THERE at the time it’s happening to be a part of it. If you show up hours later, all you can do is watch the archive, if there is one.

The upside of asynchronous conversation is that you can join in on work breaks, when you get out of class, whenever it’s convenient for you, you can add something to an ongoing discussion. The downside is that depending on how much time has elapsed between the beginning of the conversation and your arrival, you might not be willing to put in the work to absorb the entirety of the conversation anyway.

Bill Cammack รขโ‚ฌยข Cammack Media Group, LLC

Thou Shalt Not Drink Soda With Pop Rocks!

Now… Soda is good! ๐Ÿ˜€ Pop Rocks are FUN! ๐Ÿ˜€ (do they still make those?)… However….. They’re best when they’re kept separate. Do NOT drink soda with Pop Rocks! ๐Ÿ˜€

Was that a public service announcement? No. It’s illustrative of a point… which is…..

Messing with attractive chicks is GOOD! ๐Ÿ˜€ Having a circle of friends is ***GOOD**!!! ๐Ÿ˜€ …. Messing with attractive chicks within your circle of friends?… No Good! ๐Ÿ™ ๐Ÿ™

Of course, there are exceptions to this, like if you’re really, REALLY, *REALLY* into politics and the chick makes up weirdo recipes, cooks and eats them. Other than that, it’s particularly poor policy to mess with (or, some would say “date”) attractive chicks who have the exact same set of friends that you do.

There are *MANY* reasons for this. For the first one, I will refer to a classic statement about prostitution. I wish I knew who made it up, but I don’t, so I can’t attribute it. All I know is that DatingGenius didn’t make it up and doesn’t deserve any credit for it. ๐Ÿ™‚ The statement about prostitution reads:

“You don’t pay a woman to have sex with you… You pay her to go away afterwards! :D”

This is the first benefit of messing with chicks that are not your friends…. um… no, not that you get to pay them. Everybody pays for sex. When you take a girl out and pay for her dinner, you’re angling to get sex from her, so put that on the tab. When you buy a fancy car so you can pull better chicks, put that on the tab. When you buy a girl a drink at a bar in hopes that she’ll stand still long enough to listen to your sap rap about why she should date you, put that on the tab. When she stays at home playing XBOX Live while you’re working your 9-5? That’s right. Add that to the tab.

So you’re paying for sex either way, however, if the chick isn’t in your circle of friends, after you tap that, she goes away, and she STAYS away! ๐Ÿ˜€ You have your friends, she has hers. If you FEEL like overlapping them, you can. If you DON’T feel like overlapping them, there’s no chance she’s going to randomly appear at your regular haunts. This is good for when you want to relax and chill with friends without the spectre of some chick you’re messing with showing up in the middle of one of your knock-down, drag-out arguments against five people at a time. It’s also good on the off-chance that an attractive chick that you’d like to kick it to is going to randomly show up in a bar where you have to be quiet. ๐Ÿ˜€

So, yes, you want your world to be as separate from hers as possible. Not only so you can get on with other chicks and maintain the status-quo of your more-important relationships, but because you want to have the freedom of choice to socially interact with her as opposed to knowing that the same people that invited YOU out invited HER out.

Another benefit is in the oh-so-unlikely case that you ever break up. Well… That statement assumes you were “dating” her in the first place, so let’s say “in case you don’t feel like messing with her anymore, or vice versa”. ๐Ÿ˜€ In either case, now, you have a chick that you used to have physical dealings with sitting around like a bump on a log while you feed grapes to some chick sitting on your lap that you met at the “don’t walk” sign while you were waiting to cross the avenue to come to the bar just now. Poooooor policy! ๐Ÿ˜€ See that? If you had just not eaten the Pop Rocks with the Soda, you would have been aiiite! ๐Ÿ˜€

So, now, you can’t afford to get up and get a drink and leave the new chick with YOUR friends, because YOUR friends are HER friends, AND she’s sitting right there! ๐Ÿ˜€ You also can’t afford to let her go to the bathroom by herself, lest she suffer the slings and arrows of cockblocking females on the waiting line. :/ So, now, you’re basically tethered to this chick every time you bring her around your mutual friends like how those chicks put dog leashes on their babies and let them run around in the streets and think that it has no psychological effect on their kids to be walked just like actual dogs they see on leashes when they go to the park or on television. No good. Quality of life is LOW! ๐Ÿ™

Benefit #3 is based on the fact that chicks can’t keep their mouths shut about stuff… ESPECIALLY if they’re getting “hit off proppah”. So, if you want every chick that you know to hear the details about how you ‘dish it out’, go ahead and mess with girls in your circle. When you start getting those funny looks out of the corners of their eyes like they know something that you don’t know they know… That’s what happened. Under normal circumstances (read: The chick is NOT in your circle of friends), this is a *great* thing, because whether they admit it to her or not, her friends are going to want you to do to THEM what you did to HER! ๐Ÿ˜€ In this case, it’s the absolute worst because now you’ve created MORE potential Pop Rocks & Soda situations instead of FEWER, or prefereably NONE! ๐Ÿ˜€

Now, this doesn’t mean to *only* ‘date’ enemies. Dating enemies comes in handy because after y’all stop messing and they’re mad at you, nothing’s different because they were mad at you before you tapped it. ๐Ÿ˜€ How convenient is THAT? ๐Ÿ˜€ Dating enemies is also uniquely useful for “I Hate You sex” and “Make-Up sex”, but that’s an entirely different topic! ๐Ÿ˜‰

DatingGenius

Justin Johnson’s “Holiday Sweater” Song

Title: “The Holiday Sweater Song”
Directed/Written/Edited by Justin Johnson
Music: Steve Nelson
Vocals: Patty DeArteaga & Justin Johnson
Lyrics: Justin Johnson and Steve Nelson
Vimeo Permalink: [link]
YouTube Permalink: [link]


The Holiday Sweater Song from justin on Vimeo.

What says HOLIDAY COMFORT AND FUN more than a festive sweater, adorned with all manner of snowmen, snow women, dogs, snowflakes, and more. Let’s celebrate the beauty of holiday sweaters with some music combined with video!

HUGE thanks to all the people who submitted their videos for this, couldn’t have made it without all your support.

STARRING:
Jodi’s Kids

Alan and Wife

George and Nintern

Erik, Jared, and Lee

Giancarlo Florentini & Jon Grimm
http://wiseguypictures.net/

Amanda Ferri and Alex
http://bustedtees.com/

Shawn Pearlman

Ramon “The Iron Dove”

Steve Garfield
http://www.stevegarfield.com/

Josh Leo
http://joshleo.com/

Veronica Belmont
http://www.veronicabelmont.com/

Hayden Black
http://goodnightburbank.com/

Tim and Rachel
http://nextnewnetworks.com/

Streeter and Amir
http://collegehumor.com/

Michelle and Felicia
http://youtube.com/

Andrea Feczko
http://fastlanedaily.com/

Dave Seger
http://www.a-okfilms.com/

Dan Meth
http://methminute39.com/

Marissa Nystrom
http://celebzaredum.tumblr.com/

Erik Beck
http://indymogul.com/

Bill Cammack
http://reelsolid.tv/

Gary the Puppet

Nick and Richard
http://gawker.com/

Nick Douglas
http://valleywag.com/

Blame Society Productions
http://www.splu.net/

Erik X Raj
http://njfilmcore.com/

Kyle Fasanella
http://vilekyle.com/

The Thread Heads
http://threadbanger.com/

Halcyon
http://www.cockybastard.com/

ART BY
Ben Ross

MUSIC BY
Steve Nelson

LYRICS BY
Justin Johnson and Steve Nelson

DIRECTED / WRITTEN / EDITED BY
Justin Johnson

Navigating “The Kid Thing”

If you go out with the same chick for more than one week, the odds begin to increase exponentially that she’ll want to have a kid with you.

Biologically, that’s how women are built. If you consistently hang around them, they start to see you as a viable protector/provider for your pending family.

Meanwhile, the guy’s just happy to have a cute chick to look at and to ‘get on’ whenever he feels like it.

Sooner or later, she’s going to start testing you with questions about the future. SOONER is the time to act, rather than later, once you realize what’s going on. If that whole “family thing” wasn’t in your playbook, and you don’t want to break up with her ASAP and start over with a different chick that doesn’t like you as much (meaning you have more time until “the kid thing” rolls around again), there’s only ONE thing to do…..

Buy her a dog. ๐Ÿ˜€ Continue reading “Navigating “The Kid Thing””