Social Media Smoke & Mirrors

Bill & PaparazziOne of the things I find laughable about Social Media is that it’s sold to people that don’t know anything about Social Media.

This makes it possible for people who are ABSOLUTE GARBAGE at creating and maintaining their own online presence to make money telling other people how THEY should represent themselves or their companies online.

I’m not the type of person to knock the next man’s hustle, but that’s exactly what it is.. A HUSTLE. Smoke & Mirrors.

There are LOTS of people who are legitimate and present great solutions to their clients, but some people are just embarrassingly horrible at Social Media and still they’re heralded as gurus amongst their fans. Continue reading “Social Media Smoke & Mirrors”

Haiti Earthquake + Social Media = HaitiXchange.com

Yesterday, there was an horrible earthquake in Haiti that measured 7.0 on the Richter scale‎. We won’t know until the sun comes up how horrible it was, because electricity AND telephone service was knocked out.

Haiti National Palace destroyed in earthquake, Port-Au-Prince

My long time friend and college homeboy, Pascal Antoine is Haitian. He founded and has been maintaining a website called HaitiXchange.com for a lot of years now.

I normally don’t watch the news at all, but I’ve been fascinated by the recent trend of channels showing 3% news and 97% punditry (people giving their OPINIONS about what the news means instead of showing us a bunch more news stories). So I turn on the television around 8pm and flip to CNN, where the slot says “Campbell Brown”, so I’m like “*yawn* Here we go!”, and she has a different look on her face and the marquis below her reads something like “Hospital Collapses In Haiti”. Continue reading “Haiti Earthquake + Social Media = HaitiXchange.com”

Blog Moderation & Damage Control

A year ago, on January 06, 2008, I wrote and posted “Do NOT Tamper With Your Comments!”. At the time, I offered “Turn On Moderation” as an alternative:

Bill: “Turn On Moderation – Make it so that NOBODY’S comments make it to personalblog or widgetblog unless YOU approve them. That way, when everything ends up positive, you just look like you spun the situation by only letting the comments through that you liked. This is DIFFERENT from changing people’s posts because there’s never anything negative for people to see in the first place, AND dissenting comments don’t become agreeing comments with the same person’s name on the top, posted at the exact same time.”

I wrote that line at a time when I wasn’t doing a lot of commenting on other people’s blogs. I hadn’t achieved a perception of the potential effects of “You *just* look like you spun the situation by only letting the comments through that you liked” on people who visit your blog and make comments that never get approved. Let me tell you about it.

Initial Perception

Mike, Kfir & BillInitially, when I check out a blog for the first time, I’m thinking that the person who wrote the posts is looking for A DISCUSSION. I’m thinking that if they didn’t want A DISCUSSION, they would have turned off comments.

Actually, one of the very first times I ever posted on someone else’s blog, it was a dating blog and the woman had written flawed advice. With my naive way of thinking about blogs as sort of “personally-hosted forums”, I wrote a nice long comment about what was incorrect about her ideas. To her credit, she emailed me my words, when she could have just deleted them. Hats Off to her for that. 🙂 My ideas could have been lost in space, because I had written them directly to her blog entry form. Last time I ever did *THAT*.

She emailed me my words and explained to me that she wasn’t going to host my ideas about her post on HER site, and if I wanted to, I should place them on MY site. At the time, I wasn’t hip to trackbacks and pingbacks. I had a short email discussion with her expressing my opinion that I thought she was lame for having a blog and ONLY approving comments that made her look good. Pretty soon after that, I found out that this is pretty much status quo. She represents the mainstream and I’m “odd man out” on this issue. Continue reading “Blog Moderation & Damage Control”

Why Are You Doing A Live Show?

Thanks *ENTIRELY* to becoming aware of Jonny Goldstein and his show Reinventing Television in October, 2006, I’ve been doing live shows for almost two years now.


At this point, doing live shows has become a fad. Justin.TV, LiveVideo, Yahoo Live, Mogulus, Operator11, BlogTV, Ustream, Stickam, is YouTube doing live video now? There are tons of people doing live shows now, but to what effect? For what purpose?

I streamed several sessions live from PodCampNYC 2.

I do live shows from my “Live” page:

I still follow and participate in Jonny’s shows on BlogTV:


Rana Part 1

IME, There are only two reasons to do a show live. 1) You’re broadcasting time-sensitive information, or 2) You want your audience to be able to interact live with the hosts & guests.

Time-Sensitive Programming

Time-sensitive information would be the new Apple announcements as they’re occurring or maybe a sporting event like a football game or an MMA event. Basically, it’s a replacement for people not being able to travel to that location and view it themselves, in person. This is why I was streaming sessions from PodCampNYC. There were people in other towns that I was in communication with that were interested in seeing what was going on in NYC *while* it was going on.

In this case, there was communication with me, but not with the people doing the panels. The idea was to give the experience of “being there”. Then again, *I* was the one doing the show, not the panelists, so there actually WAS direct interaction with the host.

Most of the services I mentioned will save your video for you as an archive. This means that if your information isn’t time-sensitive, more people will watch the archive asynchronously than will tune in at that particular day and time to watch your show live. The only incentive they have to tune in live is reason #2.

Audience Participation

The only reason to bother tuning in to an internet show at a particular time instead of watching it whenever you get around to it is that you’re going to have a different experience during the live show than you have watching the archive.

George Kelly did a live show on Yahoo a few months back that I thought was really enjoyable and well-done. George plays guitar, and instead of having people tune in to watch him play whatever he had already decided, he was taking requests from the chat room. Automatically, there was value added, because the show was being created on the fly. Meanwhile, the text-chatters were socializing amongst themselves. George was in and out of attention to the chat room and “a fine time was had by all”. 😀

Jonny Goldstein‘s shows are fun because he does them consistently and has built up a “studio audience” that’s gotten to know each other via his show and maintained our relationships via other formats of social media. Jonny’s very attentive to the chat room, and he’s more of a facilitator of conversation than someone that just sits there talking to a guest as if there’s no live audience.

The reason I was thinking about this is that as stingy as companies are in trying to leverage pre-recorded video and UGC (User-Generated Content), I can’t see *WHY* they would turn around and waste their money making LIVE shows that are the exact same experience as the saved archive. Where’s the ROI? Are there really so many extra people tuning in to the live show that it justifies the expenditure? Isn’t it just preaching to the choir? For that, assemble the same hosts & guests, turn a video camera on, turn it back off, edit & upload that video and you’ll have just as many people watching it while retaining ducats in your video budget to create some worthwhile programming.

Perhaps ask yourself “What difference does it make if my audience watches my show live versus if they watch it later today?” or “What difference does it make if my audience watches this show next Tuesday, or next month?” If the answer is *NONE*, then save your money and focus on pre-recorded content.

~Bill Cammack

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297 ReelSolid.TV s03 ep015 – Live Show Plus 4

ReelSolid.TV Episode #297 – Season 03, Episode 15 – Live Show Plus 4

Bill Cammack streaming live video via Ustream.

Liz Burr streaming live audio via iChat

Tyme White streaming live audio via Skype

TheJennTaFur streaming live audio via iChat

Darren Keith streaming live audio via Skype

Connections (Passing it On)

Christian Payne aka “Documentally” is a photographer and blogger who was commissioned by the UNHCR to photograph the plight of Iraqi refugees in Jordan.

I edited Christian’s work into a video that we’ve recently completed, and he posted this video, thanking me as well as others for what we’ve done:


Seesmic Member Link | Non-member Link

Initially, this post was going to be called “Thanks for the Thanks”, because I definitely appreciate Christian’s authenticity and heartfelt statements. 😀 “Cheers for that”, as they say over there in the U.K. 😀

However, that’s really a private communication between Christian and myself that happened to be expressed on a public medium (both his video and my text, above). What I think would be more useful to my 40 readers, according to Technorati (minus however-many registered search engines :p) is to talk about the process of creation, in this case, dealing with video, and the difference that it makes when you’re actually emotionally invested in what you’re doing. Also, I wanted to give Christian some more background on how we ended up working together.

I’m a video blogger, which essentially means I film videos and put them on the internet. We have our own little “echo chamber” of friends and colleagues. I first became aware, sort of, of Phil Campbell on Dan McVicar’s social site “Late Nite Mash”.

Bill Cammack & Dan McVicarBill & Dan in NYC
In November, 2006, Dan collected music pieces from Phil and other members and made a “mash-up” with video footage I sent him of New York City nightlife:

I say “sort of” aware of Phil because at that time, social media wasn’t advanced enough for people to get to know more about each other than what they typed on a page or a picture or video they posted. At this point, we not only have the technology to do our own video shows, like Phil’s “The Gravity”, but there are more and more live services popping up… Ustream, BlogTV, Yahoo! Live, LiveVideo, new services all the time, where we get to see a lot more about people than we used to.

So anyway, I got to know Phil Campbell as a quality guy who STAYS on top of the game when it comes to social media and is simply a treasure trove of good ideas. 😀

Next in order, Andrew Lipson gave me an invite to this (at the time, invite-only) video-messaging application called Seesmic while I was an audience member of the Jeff Pulver Show. I checked it out, but it really wasn’t my type of conversation going on between the beta-testers, so I just watched Seesmic like a television show instead of participating in the watercooleresque banter.

There were a couple of people there with strong personalities and methods to their madness. The most animated and volatile of them was this character named “Documentally”. 😀 Most people, once you’ve seen four videos of them, you know their range… or at least the range they’re willing to bring to the world-stage which is Seesmic or any other site where you post videos that people can watch from NYC to Zimbabwe. With Documentally, you never really know what was going to happen in one of his videos. He might say something intelligent and serious. He might say something batty and off the wall. He might say nothing at all. He might roll his truck and videotape the situation as if he’s the first reporter on the scene! 😀 It was clear from the “Documentally” character that Christian Payne had A LOT of range to his personality, and there was a lot of entertainment value in his videos.

So being a morning person, I tend to chat with the European folks (who are 5/6 hours ahead of us) before the Americans wake up. I’m chatting with Phil Campbell and he mentions that his friend Christian had a project he was working on. I let Phil know I was aware of Documentally and was willing to chat with him about the project. In skypeing with Christian, I got to meet the “hang out at the pub” version instead of the “Seesmic character” version. He’s a nice guy, and as he put it in the video, he’s “someone I’d like to call a friend”. 🙂

I really meant to talk about the actual project, but I’ll do that some other time. This ended up being a post about connections. One of the benefits of social media is that people get to learn about each other at their own pace and according to their own level of interest. Another benefit is that we have checks and balances inside our “echo chamber”. For example, Dina Kaplan and I have 102 “Facebook Friends” in common! :O … Even if you spit that into 50 friends and 50 acquaintances, that means there are *50* people that I can contact right this second and ask them a question about Dina. I’d probably get 15 responses back, and they’d all be approximately the same, because that’s how Dina carries herself. She’s consistent.

Liz Gannes, Bill Cammack & Dina Kaplan
Liz Gannes, Bill Cammack & Dina Kaplan

Through social media, and also by meeting in person @ Adam Quirk‘s event named Vloggercue in Brooklyn, I developed an impression of Phil Campbell as a stand-up guy and a good judge of character. For Phil to bring up Christian’s project to me, I’m automatically *infinitely* more inclined to hear more about it. Yes, it helped A LOT that Christian already had a strong social media presence. Yes, it helped A LOT that the photos he shot for the project are rich and full of emotion, intimacy and meaning. However, the *main* thing is connection… passing it on. Social media offers us the opportunity to get to know each other, asynchronously… and then follow up to find out how the real person matches up to his or her online persona.

Livecasting

My excellent friend ActionGirl hung out with me today. We did a dual-channel livecast using ustream.tv.

Livecasting, if you’re not familiar, is one of the newest internet fads, but it’s also NOT new. Technology has advanced to the point that the average joe has the ability to broadcast his or her life effortlessly and without cost (except for the obvious costs of computer, webcam, broadband connection, etc).

Similar to quasi-scripted MSM shows like MTV’s “The Real World”, people now have the ability to leave a camera running and pointed at them as they go about their daily business. Some people livecast from work. Some people livecast from home. Some people livecast on the move with EV-DO modem cards and laptops, like Sarah and Lisa do on justin.tv.

I became intersted in livecasting after watching Drew Olanoff‘s feed from PodCamp Philly. It was fun watching Drew roam the hallways and run into conference attendees and presenters. There was something cool about interacting with this live show that was going on, NOW. 🙂 It was different because you could actually affect the course of the show, assuming the host was monitoring the text chat room. It was different because you could call your friends that you saw in the background and have them come over and talk to you on camera. It was cool because you were receiving information RIGHT NOW, just like everyone that was actually in Philadelphia for the conference.

So I wanted to check it out, and ActionGirl was down to experiment with me….. um…. was down to join me in my livecasting experiment. 🙂

We started out outdoors, utilizing free WiFi in the area. We were streaming about one frame per five seconds. Our video was choppy and our audio wasn’t much better. Some glitch occurred where ActionGirl had bars of wireless signal, yet was unable to connect to the internet at all. Strange. Next, I tried receiving signal via my EV-DO modem card and sharing my internet connection with ActionGirl via airport. That was really slow, but I’ve never tried that before, and I think it was due to my card not connecting properly. I didn’t have this diagnostics entry in my taskbar that I should have had, so I don’t figure the card was functioning optimally at that point.

We retired indoors and used WiFi connections to stream from each of our macbooks. Connection was quick, and I was able to embed both of our streams plus a text chat on one page and run that from my site. I later added our friend Chris’ stream, so we had three simultaneous live streams on the page.

Livecasting is tough to do properly, IMO, without monitoring your chat room(s). I suppose there IS no ‘proper’ way to livecast, since it’s really “anything goes”, but in order to interact with your audience, you have to read what they’re typing to you. If you’re not planning to interact with them, clearly, you don’t have to bother with that. I found myself responding late to comments because while we were saying something, the text chat was scrolling up and I’d have to read up to notice what people said minutes before.

I think the audience is as important as the host… Meaning that if you have the right audience, even if that’s ‘only’ one or two people who actually know you or are genuinely interested in what you do, livecasting can be a fun and rewarding experience. The best times today were when our friends were on, even just for a few minutes, and we got to interact with them and answer their questions. OTOH, when the audience isn’t prime, it’s tough, if not impossible to get revved up to deliver your best ‘performance’.

For me, *teamwork* is key. I’m not interested in doing my own solo livecast. If I know I’m going to be around interesting people or at an event that would be of interest to people I know, then I’m glad to broadcast it. It also helps if you actually like and enjoy the person you’re livecasting with so you know that even if NOBODY shows up, you’re going to have a good time that day. 🙂

Eventually, we called it a night. I felt pretty exhausted by then, actually. When we shut our feeds down, it actually felt strange to me to NOT be on camera. Once we came inside, we were on from around 6pm to 9pm, and even that felt like an eternity. I’m not sure how (or why) people do that during their every waking hour. I guess you have to be the type of person that enjoys random people interacting with you. I suppose some people do it for the fame or notoriety.

I don’t know that there’s going to be a way to monetize lifecasting. I experimented with product placement, including beverages and t-shirts. It’s tough to do well, live, trying to get products in front of a tiny webcam lens in the optimal size, focus and location. Still… A lot of people like to broadcast their lives, and a lot of people like to watch those broadcasts, so we’ll see where this fad takes us next. 🙂

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