Talkin’ Loud (or just A LOT) and Sayin’ Nothin’!

2008 is going to be the year when “Live” becomes a MAJOR player as far as video on the internet. IMO, Qik is the frontrunner right now, with live mobile. The first person I was aware of running around town with a Nokia N-Series phone was Steve Garfield. Eventually, I became aware of Rupert Howe over in “Jolly Old”, filming, editing and uploading from his Nokia. At the time, it was quaint. At this point, it’s turned into a fad, and more and more people are “going live”. Not that what Steve or Rupert were doing was live video, but it was as close as you could get at the time.

Meanwhile, status update sites became all the rage. Now, whenever you want, you can broadcast to your “followers” what you’d like them to know. You can also receive information from people before it makes MSM headlines, like some bridge falling down in some town nobody’s paying attention to. As long as SOMEBODY sees it and twitters it (or pownce, jaiku…), relatively immediately, we know in New York City what’s going on in the sticks.

Unfortunately, all this new “look at me” media doesn’t come with a manual. 😀 It shouldn’t come with a manual, because that way, all the new people flooding in don’t mentally restrict themselves to the purported use of the site or app. However, for people that don’t understand how media works, they could end up broadcasting things they didn’t intend to, such as their lack of relevance and/or interesting things to say, and in the worst-case scenario… that they just don’t know what they’re talking about. There’s nothing wrong with that, but people need to be aware that they’re doing this to themselves.

This post isn’t for/about people that frivolously post text/audio/video on the internet as something to do. This is for people trying to make a name for themselves as knowledgeable people within their particular echo chamber.

There’s a difference between demonstrating that you own something and demonstrating that you truly understand what it is, how it works and how to utilize it. There’s a difference between demonstrating that you know ABOUT something and demonstrating that you’re someone knowledgeable and/or respected in that field. The more you go “Look at me!!! Here I am!!! Over here!!!”, the more opportunities you’re giving people to assess what you’re bringing to the table. If what you’re bringing is usually GARBAGE, you’re better off sparing yourself so much quantity and focusing on your quality.

Let’s say, for instance, that I told you I was going to the Yankees game, and I was going to text blog what was going on. Then, during the game, you start seeing this in my twitter stream:

It’s pretty warm today, considering it’s the Ides of March
Here we GO! The Yankees are warming up
Turns out that it didn’t rain as they predicted
The other team’s taking the field, sonnnnnn
I think I’ll buy some food
What a hit! :O
Seventh Inning Stretch!
I think that’s Stacey Dash! :O
Great game! Leaving the stadium to meet up with friends

Now… The FIRST thing that’s going to come to mind is “THAT WAS THE *WORST* ACCOUNT OF A BASEBALL GAME, EVER!” The second is going to be “Remind me not to hire that guy to blog ANYTHING”. The third is going to be “That was a tremendous waste of bandwidth”… Etc etc etc… Nothing positive. The only good things derived from something like this might be “He owns a cell phone”, “He knows how to connect twitter to his phone”, “He goes to Yankees games” and “He got to see Stacey Dash in person”.

Meanwhile, you STILL didn’t get the information. So then, let’s say you asked me directly what happened during the game, and I told you this:

The Yankees were there
The other team showed up too
People in the stands had a good time
There were some pitches and some hits
A couple of guys struck out
At the end, everyone left the stadium

Do you see how RIDICULOUS that account is? You would think that I was either avoiding talking about the game on purpose or that I really didn’t go to the game AT ALL. I didn’t tell you ONE SPECIFIC INSTANCE of anything that happened at the game. I didn’t tell you what happened TO anyone in the game, pro or con. I didn’t tell you what *I* thought about what happened during the game.

So, while I thought I was being clever and technological, all I was doing was demonstrating that either I was being purposefully evasive or I can attend and watch an event without understanding what happened right in front of my face… OR that I can understand what happened, but can’t properly articulate my thoughts. NONE. OF. THOSE. ARE. GOOD. THINGS! 😀

What you say is important. What you DON’T say is also important. WHEN you say those things counts as well. If your goal is to become a credible and respected source of information for people, you need to be RELEVANT, CURRENT, KNOWLEDGEABLE and CONSISTENT.

If you can’t do that, save your text/audio/video until you have something useful to contribute.

Are You A Tech Elitist?

Are *you* a Tech Elitist? If so, how’s that workin’ for ya?

As it’s now Christmas, and we think of The Grinch sitting high on the hill, looking down on all the little people of the village with contempt… Let’s consider our own positions in our respective fields and how we’ve chosen social media sites & groups as well as whom we’ve chosen to affiliate ourselves with.

There was much change during 2007. More ways to communicate. More social sites to join. More video hosts with their own little gimmicks that made them slightly different from the rest. New video editing software. New storage solutions. New live streaming options….

As new opportunities arose, there was a lot of bandwagon-jumping. Sometimes it stuck, sometimes it didn’t. When Twitter was initially unreliable, OFTEN, eventually, Jaiku came along, and there was a mass exodus. The backup plan for when Twitter would go down was for people to immediately start posting on Jaiku until the problem was resolved. Eventually, Twitter became stable, and I didn’t hear a peep about Jaiku for months until they got bought by Google. All of a sudden, here come the Jaiku friend requests.

Even within Twitter, there was bandwagon-jumping. Apps were created so you didn’t have to use the twitter web page with your browser. Some people stuck with them. Some people bailed back to the web site when they realized how many twitter posts the apps weren’t picking up. Eventually, people found found satisfaction in how they received twitter posts. At some point during ’07, Pownce became a player as well.

There was much debate about which status update application was better between the three of them. I ended up sticking with Twitter, and once every so often, I copy/paste redundant posts to Pownce & Jaiku for people that primarily (if not exclusively) use those sites. I’m also biased towards Twitter because I have 341 contacts there vs. 117 on Pownce and 50 on Jaiku, many of which are redundant for the reason I stated earlier. So, for the sake of this post, I’ll say I made the ‘elitist’ decision that Twitter was better for my purposes and essentially neglect the other two services.

On the social site front, I used to have a regular MySpace presence. I had somewhere around 500 “friends” that were rather randomly acquired. What I mean by that is that I had probably 100 contacts that I knew from some other site or forum or that I actually knew IRL and then another 400 or so people/companies that sent me a friends request and then essentially never talked to me “again”. 😀 … “Again” has to be in quotes, because they never TALKED to me the first time. All they did was click a button that sent me a friends request, and I accepted it. I enjoyed interacting with my actual friends on MySpace, but the vast majority of it I found to be utterly worthless. MySpace is fantastic if you’re a musician or an artist, but I didn’t make many new relationships on MySpace that were worth anything.

Eventually, Facebook stepped its game up, and I migrated to “the better site”. Similar to my Twitter bias for status updates, my MySpace dealings dwindled to ZERO. In fact, if someone didn’t have a facebook account, I wouldn’t even bother to look them up on MySpace. 🙂 “Everybody who was anybody” was on Facebook, so there wasn’t any need to ‘waste’ time on other mass social sites. Recently, someone mentioned MySpace to me, and I inadvertently laughed and said something like “You *still* use your MySpace account?” She replied that she interacts with the people that she knows because of business on Facebook, but her IRL friends are all still on MySpace. I hadn’t thought about it before, but as I sit here on my Facebook hill with contempt… I’m now wondering how many of my ACTUAL friends are still down in the MySpace village, having never made the jump to “the better site”.

The reason Facebook is better for me is that I deal with social media every day of the week. Now that I’m thinking about it, for the average joe, MySpace is more than enough, and there’s no reason for them to look for better connectivity to more REAL people. So now I have to consider whether it’s more beneficial to me to move some of my Facebook-time back to MySpace instead of concentrating solely on the site that’s clearly superior for my purposes.

Next, you have video hosts. I use blip.tv because the options and functionalities serve my purposes as I maintain my own video blogs using WordPress, Show-In-A-Box and vPiP. Meanwhile, other people talk into their webcams and post videos to YouTube. I’ve posted a few videos to YouTube for test purposes, but I wasn’t impressed with the video compression quality at the time, I wasn’t impressed with the Terms of Service and I *CERTAINLY* wasn’t impressed with the dimwitted remarks people love to leave in the comments sections.

For those reasons and others, I’ve left YouTube just about completely alone… However, you can’t argue with the numbers of views that people get, assuming they get “featured”. YouTube has become the go-to for people looking for any kind of video under the sun, so just by having your video there, you have more of a chance of it going viral than if you oh-so-elitely plan, film, edit, compress, upload, post, tag and advertise your own videos like I do. 🙂

The question, again, is “How’s that workin’ for ya?”. Fortunately, another 2007 development is TubeMogul which enables you to upload a video once and have it distributed to multiple video sharing sites. TubeMogul also tracks statistics for you across several sites. So now, there’s less incentive to keep “all your eggs in one basket”.

I’m sure we can look forward to lots more fantastic developments in 2008. 🙂 Personally, I’ll be paying more attention than I was this year as far as whether I’d like to consolidate or expand in the areas of status updates, social sites and video hosting sites. I didn’t even get to talk about live streaming options, like how I think Operator11 is infinitely better than BlogTV….. except Operator11 went completely offline for more than a week, so people like Jonny Goldstein had to retreat to other live streaming sites to keep their shows going. Of course, there’s no way to add a BlogTV archive to your Operator11 show archive, so c’est la vie. :/

Anyway… I think it’s in all of our best interests to pay attention not only to which new app or site has cool features or the elite people flocking to it, but also to whether we’re trading away communications with our core viewers, friends, contacts and followers. Just like The Grinch found out… it’s lonely at the top.

Bill Cammack • Cammack Media Group, LLC

Dude… Where’s My Twitter Link?

As I reported back on June 28, 2007, Twitter ‘ruined my life’ [link].

I realize _now_ that there’s something that I left out.

Today, Charles Hope twittered… Yes, “twittered”… There’s no such thing as a “tweet” or else the app would be named “tweeter”…. Anyway… Charles twittered that the “older” link was no longer at the bottom of our Twitter pages. I checked it out, and sure enough, there was no link allowing me to check back past my first page of the most recent posts. I figured that since they’re always doing tests and trying to improve how twitter works, it was a programming error and that it would be quickly replaced. Then, someone mentioned an issue with spam, and that the link was deliberately removed in response to it.

I still wasn’t concerned, because I know that I can type http://twitter.com/home?page=2 directly into my browser to get to the next-most-recent page of posts. No dice. Pages 2, 3, 4 and 5 all returned the exact same Page 1 entries….. MINUS the entries that had fallen off the edge of the flat Earth, because new people had twittered since I had last refreshed. :/

The link removal wouldn’t be a big deal to people following a handful of people, but when you’re following > 230 people, like I am, it’s a major ‘problem’ and jacks a critical amount of functionality that I get out of Twitter. Fortunately, out of the > 240 people following me on these social status-update sites like Twitter and Pownce (and Jaiku? … Haven’t heard from that app in AGES!), Veronica Belmont replied to my status update on Pownce [link], informing me not only that it was a temporary issue, but pointing me to the Twitter blog where Biz Stone had already addressed the issue earlier this morning. Fortunately, she replied on Pownce, because on Twitter, her post would have scrolled off the bottom of my “page 1” and been (temporarily) lost forever, unless she had added an @BillCammack to it and it would have alighted in my “replies” section. So, thanks to Veronica, this is a different post than it would have been. 🙂


Photo Credit: Jared Klett

For me, one of the values of Twitter is that you don’t have to pay attention to it and it will save the status updates for you. I’ve gone back as far as 11 pages, which span several hours. That’s normally where you lose the “older” link. This means that when it’s crunch time, and I’m being my most effective and efficient, I can release Twitter from my mind entirely and only get back to it when I have processing cycles for it. Removing the “older” link from the first page means that I have to constantly remember Twitter to check it on the web site or I’d actually have to install a widget which would keep sending me the messages, non-stop, all day, consistently distracting me from what I’m trying to do. Neither option’s optimal.

It’s one of those things that you don’t miss until it’s gone. 🙂 Taking the “older” link from the front page of Twitter turns it into the home page of Facebook. As far as I can tell, there’s no way to increase the number of pages of updates that you can see on Facebook’s home page. They’re not even in chronological order. If they were, you wouldn’t see that an entire stack of your friends just joined a new group… You’d see individual instances with other types of updates in between them. When I get to the bottom of Facebook’s ome page, I invariably wonder what happened BEFORE the edge of the flat Earth that the rest of the updates fell off of. Of course it’s a good ploy to make it so people go to Facebook more often specifically so they DON’T miss the revolving-door updates, but that doesn’t work for me personally, so removal of the “older” link on Twitter is nothing short of a disaster. 🙂

I just checked my page right now, and there are only 20 twitters on the front (read: ONLY) page. Amongst the > 230 people I’m following, the oldest post is a whopping 22 minutes old. :/ I’ve been writing this post for more than 20 minutes, so there’s an entire ‘generation’ of comments that I’ve entirely missed and will never ever see unless they fix their spam bot issues within the next 8 hours or so.

This isn’t the stock market, so it’s not mission-critical for me to know in real-time what my Twitter friends are doing, thinking or saying. However, I was glad to read in the Twitter blog that the “older” link is going to be reinstated ASAP. Part of my daily productivity is using down-time during rendering, uploading, etc to catch up with what’s been going on in the last couple of hours since I even THOUGHT about Twitter at all. 22 minutes worth of status updates from > 230 people isn’t even a drop in the bucket.

Good thing I checked twitter within 20 minutes of Charles’ post, or I would have been completely in the dark as far as WhereTF my “older” link went! 😀

Bill Cammack • New York City • Freelance Video Editor • alum.mit.edu/www/billcammack

Friends, Acquaintances & Contacts

Kristen “Kroosh” Crusius wrote a post the other day about what’s going on in her “Friendiverse”… her universe of friends. Her post reminded me that I had intended to comment about Robert Scoble‘s videos about how social networks’ “friends lists” really work.

Part I of Social Graph Based Search. 14:41 minutes.

Part II of Social Graph Based Search. 15 minutes.

And a bonus round III. 6 minutes.

I didn’t get around to writing that post because I’ve been incredibly busy for the last two months.

I think the term “Friends”, as automatically used by several social sites is an unfortunate and misleading label. This is especially true when there are no other choices. You’re forced into a binary system…. Accept or Decline… Yes or No… 1 or 0… My-Friend or Not-My-Friend. Unfortunately, as Scoble pointed out in his videos, reality doesn’t work like that. There are different levels and flavors of relationships between people. Business relationships, Family relationships, Intimate relationships, Adversarial relationships… I think linkedin has it right with the generic term “contact”. How many ‘contacts’ do you have? They’re not (your friends) by default, nor are they (not your friends) by default. Still, in linkedin, there are several types of business relationships, including people that you have worked with personally… people you have not worked with personally, but you trust whomever recommended them to you… people you have not worked with and you have no professional recommendations for, but you vouch for them as a person, so you are happy to recommend them to someone who’s looking to fill a position…. people you have no intention of recommending to anyone, but you will still accept them as a contact… people that you are in contact with specifically so you can set them up with other people….. ALL of these are thrown in together under the title ‘contact’.

Because of the misnomer “friends”, some people have selected this to mean their ACTUAL friends and will only add people that they actually know. Here, I agree with Scoble’s assertion that this is an incorrect usage of social networks. How are you supposed to expand your circle of CONTACTS or “sphere of influence” if you limit yourself on the internet to only the people you know IRL? How are you supposed to learn about new people that might have similar interests or ideals if you deny them connection to you? What’s the point of being on a social site if you’re only going to get in touch with the same people you’re already in contact with? I think that if they had levels of acquaintance on these sites, a lot more people would be connected to each other, because the categories would make sense to them. You would be able to see at-a-glance what level each person had placed their contacts on, and make a better assessment of their actual interaction with each other.

Looking at it from the other direction… It’s not fair that someone that sends you a friends request out of the blue has the exact same status as someone you collaborate with or work with or highly respect or go out for drinks with or climb mountains and eat pancakes with. Both the random person and the IRL friend are marked down as “Friend”. There’s no meritocracy. Even with facebook‘s relationship qualifiers, that’s a SECONDARY trait. It’s like having everyone in your military with the rank of ‘Private’, and you have to go to each Private and ask them what their actual importance is in order to determine who out-ranks whom. No. It doesn’t work like that. You can tell from the bars or whatever emblem on their shoulders who’s running the show and who’s going to be digging the trenches.

In the absence of actual distinctions, I think the best approach to accepting/rejecting social site “friends” is innocent until proven guilty, not the other way around. It’s always a good thing when you can see the applicant’s friends list in order to tell who might know them that YOU know and whose judgement you trust. When I know certain people don’t like jerks, and those people are “friends” with someone, I’m more likely to take my ACTUAL friend’s word that this other person is cool. That would seem to go against what I was saying earlier, because what if my friend is using the same “innocent until proven guilty” style that I am? 🙂 I would be accepting an untested “friend”. However, checks & balances will come into play. If the untested person actually interacts with the community, they’ll start getting “reviews” which will help you decide whether you want to keep them as a friend or not. Ultimately, the circle polices itself.

I was thinking about Kroosh’s “Friendiverse” yesterday, while I was watching Drew‘s live stream from PodCamp Philly. It’s a much more intimate format… giving personal, “hand-written” recommendations of places to go, people to see and things to do. I saw many people from MY Friendiverse on Drew’s stream yesterday… Kathryn, Eric, Jackson, Jonny, Steve, Grace, Charles… and ran into others in the text chat who were also watching the stream.

Ultimately, I’ve been inspired to focus more time & energy on the upper echelon of my own personal Friendiverse. In the game called “keeping up with the net”, it’s very easy to miss out on telling the people that matter to you how cool you think they are. 🙂

Bill Cammack • New York City • Freelance Video Editor • alum.mit.edu/www/billcammack