How Social is “Social” Media?

Jonny Goldstein interviewed me back in August 2007 on his show Jonny’s Par-Tay [link]. Looking at the countdown timer to the end of the show, around -18:00 he asks me “So… Did you feel a little lonely before you got into all the social media stuff?” to which my response was that I’m actually LESS social NOW than I was before…

Jonny’s response was that it CAN lead to socializing, and he mentioned an instance of an IRL event, Vloggercue, hosted by Wreck and Salvage’s Adam Quirk that he was going to attend BECAUSE of the people that he met and knew because of social media.

While I agree that it CAN… How often *DOES* social media lead to actual social inteaction, for YOU? My point was that I became less social instead of more social because of the fact that my friends are always at my fingertips. For the sake of this post, I’m defining “social” as actually going somewhere to hang out with friends of mine, IRL.

Frisbee Group, April 14 2007 by Bill Cammack

Everyone sitting at that table (Grace, Rachel, Charles, Obreahny, Sandra & Mike), I’m only *seconds* away from interacting with, via social media, wherever I am. Instant messaging, status updates, texting, email, sites, forums, groups. I did a shoot in Central Park with Obreahny and uploaded it to my server sitting out in Central Park, using the park’s wireless access. I get footage from clients overseas via FTP, talk to them on skype or iChat and send them quicktime files for approval/changes. I watched a live stream of PodCamp Philly from NYC and appeared on-screen @ PodCamp Boston while I was sitting in a living room in Maryland.

There’s no reason for me to physically go ANYWHERE unless physically interacting with that person is the reason I’m going. You can’t go snowboarding together unless you actually go snowboarding. Other than that, the current state of communications enables you to be AS in-touch with someone as you want to be. I talk to my friend @CaliNative all day, every day. We’re both MIT Graduates, but we live 3,000 miles apart from each other and never met each other IRL. Meanwhile, there are people that have given me business cards, right here in NYC, that I never spoke to again after that particular day that we met.

Social media allows you to define your enviroment. You can create and maintain relationships that transcend physical and territorial boundaries. You can hold 5 completely separate instant message conversations at a time, which is absolutely impossible on the phone. Does that make you MORE social?… or LESS social? Is “social” being re-defined by technology enabling us to envision new directions?

I also say I’m less social because my tolerance for idiocy has plummeted. 🙂 I didn’t have a lot of that to BEGIN with, but when you get to pick and choose the people you interact with on the basis of their intelligence, common sense and relevance relative to what YOU find interesting or important, it becomes really tough to tolerate people talking about ‘nothing’, or their own agenda which has nothing to do with what you find to be valuable in life.


Anil, Mike, Justin, Debbie, Grace, Bill, Kenyatta, Eric

Photo Credit: Jared Klett

So, yes. Social media DEFINITELY leads to situations where we all get together and have a good time, IRL. I think that more often, social media allows us to FEIGN getting together, which is actually *less* social than more so.

Bill Cammack • Cammack Media Group, LLC

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

Network-Quality Series Developed For The Internet

Chuck Barney, of the Contra Costa Times posted an interesting article on freep.com today, entitled “‘Quarterlife’ ready for Internet debut“.

According to the article, “Quarterlife”, a series by Marshall Herskovitz and Edward Zwick (creators of the hit TV series “Thirtysomething”) is being touted as the first time a “true, network-quality series” has been produced directly for the internet.

Herskovitz is quoted as saying “It’s a very risky, expensive gamble, that’s for sure”, and the article later mentions:

While each hour of “quarterlife” — at $400,000-plus — costs substantially more than the typical online production, the overall budget for the project is “way less than half” of a typical network drama. Also, the crew is much smaller, and they’re forced to shoot on location because there’s no rent money for soundstages.

I’ll assume that an “hour of Quarterlife” refers to finished running time of the series. They have made (or are still in the process of making?) 36 eight-minute “webisodes”. The article doesn’t state their release schedule… daily? weekly? Either way, it’s 288 minutes of finished material, which is 4.8 hours, which @ 400k per….. comes out to One Million, Nine Hundred and Twenty Thousand dollars.

$1,920,000 = 36 x 8-minute shows? Hmm… maybe I calculated incorrectly… Let me try it a different way. 😀

How about if we break it down to minutes instead? 😀

While each hour of “quarterlife” — at $400,000-plus — costs substantially more than the typical online production…

(60 minutes = $400,000) / 60 => (1 minute = $6,667)
(1 show = 8 minutes) x $6,667 => (1 show = $53,336)

(1 season? = 36 shows) x $53,336 => (1 season = $1,920,096)

Hmm… ok… Good… ~$7,000 / finished minute for a “true, network-quality series” being produced directly for the Internet. I, for one, will be *VERY* interested to find out what the ROI will be for this project… as will the Yahoo Videoblogging Group, where we often discuss the intricacies of and potential for monetization of internet video. I’m sure the currently striking Writers Guild of America will be paying close attention to how well this project is received on the internet as well… especially for this reason:

The “quarterlife” concept was conceived three years ago as a pilot for ABC. The network rejected it. Instead of bailing on the project, Herskovitz and Zwick revamped it for online purposes. But they’re quick to emphasize that this isn’t just another case of producers dumping a failed pilot onto the Internet.

If ‘Quarterlife’ works out, financially… that means an entire world (literally) is opened up to television professionals as an alternative method to put bread on the table or even to have entire successful careers based on creating online content.

Caroline McCarthy, a CNETNews.com staff writer (c/net: the social), previewed the first six episodes of “Quarterlife” and is quoted in the article as saying:

“Obviously, it couldn’t have come at a better time for the show,” McCarthy says about the strike. “It might appeal to some people who are looking for something new to watch and are ready to change their viewing habits.”

This is an interesting point, considering many people watch television from their computers already, and some people don’t watch television at all, choosing instead to derive their entertainment from online sources such as web sites, aggregators and rss feed readers. If struck shows go into reruns, people may very well turn to online content such as “Quarterlife” merely to receive ‘fresh’ entertainment. While they’re browsing ‘the space’, they might end up checking out Rocketboom or other daily- or weekly-produced internet shows.

Yes… This will be very interesting. I’m looking forward to finding out what a ~$7,000/minute internet series will “feel” like. We can already tell what it will *look* like from the video posted to the “Quarterlife’ site. The show is scheduled to start on November 11th on MySpace, so “tune in tomorrow” for the jump-off, and let’s see if a “true, network-quality series, produced directly for the internet” helps to revolutionize the online media and content creation space.

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

EMS Episode 96: Stacy Morrison @ BlogHerBiz ‘07

Click here for Quicktime Version & Embed Codes

Redbook Magazine editor-in-chief Stacy Morrison discusses progressive approaches to advertising.

Closing Keynote: Is the Ethos of the Social Media World Changing How We Conduct Business Online and Offline?

Lisa Stone moderates this discussion about whether corporate leaders are seeing and leveraging more ideas generated from the outside in and from the bottom up as they lead their household brands into the future. Lisa is joined by iVillage President, Debi Fine, Google VP of Search Products and User Experience Marissa Mayer, Redbook Magazine editor-in-chief Stacy Morrison and WashingtonPost.Newsweek Interactive CEO Caroline Little for the discussion.

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