matthew

Has Instagram changed the internet for all of us?

I’ve been thinking a lot about Instagram lately and I’ve noticed that I am not alone.

A recent study from the Pew Research Center revealed that 46% of adult internet users post original photos or videos online that they themselves created. This was the first time they had asked about Pinterest, Instagram and Tumblr, so there is no historical data to compare the numbers to, but the numbers are sure to continue growing. According to the study, “27% of internet users between 18-29 use Instagram.”

And then this, from AllThingsD: “In August [2012] US smartphone owners visited Instagram from their smartphones more frequently and for longer periods of time than they visited Twitter.” Instagram had an average of 7.3 million daily active users to Twitter’s 6.9 million, and they spent nearly twice as long perusing.

When Facebook allegedly coughed up $1 billion to buy Instagram, the black crows in the media  focused on the astronomical price tag for a company that hadn’t made any money yet. I was more interested in WHY Facebook decided to acquire the popular service. More accurately, I’m intrigued by what the rise of photo sharing apps means to the future of communications. I happen to love Instagram and enjoy seeing the way people express their creativity. It also challenges me to try and find the visual narrative in any given situation. While there is certainly an overabundance of food photos, pet photos and pictures showing the view from an airplane with the wing featured prominently, I wonder how we will all tell our stories over the next few years. While Facebook and twitter allow for photo attachments, the updates that people post are largely text-based. Maybe it’s because of my background in creating television and video that I find visual storytelling more compelling, but I’m certainly not alone. If a picture is worth a thousand words, how much is a picture passed through a saturation filter worth?

Do you use Instagram or some other photo sharing app? What do you find compelling about it?

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Podcasting (still) lives!

I first discovered podcasts and podcasting somewhere around 2006, and my mind was blown. The first podcast I came upon was all about production, technology, communications- in short, everything that was of interest to me. It blew my mind because of the obvious potential to narrowcast and reach large audiences which  were not quite large enough for traditional radio or TV. One million podcast listeners is huge. One million TV viewers gets you cancelled before the second episode airs.

In the years that followed, it seemed like everyone with a mic and a laptop started releasing podcasts during this chaos period, but now it is clear that podcasting has reached a new and exciting level of maturity.

 

My enthusiasm for them has not waned one iota. In fact, I receive the vast majority of my news, information and entertainment from podcasts. Because it is such a personal medium, it feels very “one-to-one” and that appeals to me.

One area that has experienced a huge boom, and resultant ripple effect, is comedy. A few years back I happened upon Marc Maron’s WTF podcast, which led me to Greg Fitzsimmons’ Fitzdog Radio and on and on. Both of these shows are essentially interview shows, not comics doing their acts. Maron’s self-revelatory style over 300+ episodes has won him a huge following and a TV deal for an upcoming show on IFC. To hear him tell it, it has also resurrected what was, by his own admission, a dormant stand-up career.

Fitzsimmons’ career seems to be on the upswing, too, as a result of his podcast, although he often riffs on how hard he has worked to arrive comfortably “in the middle.” He says he gets recognized on the street occasionally, but mostly he works steadily in Hollywood, which is the dream of any creative type.

Two back to back articles in the NY Times this past week about the comics Chris Hardwick and Rob Delaney,  and the “direct-to-audience” model pioneered so expertly by Louis CK are further evidence of the power of podcasting to speak to your audience directly, and find new audiences in the process.

I made a blog post back in 2007 (Good God, have I been blogging that long?) about the huge potential I saw in podcasting. While NPR and other mainstream content providers have used podcasts to great mutual benefit for themselves and their audiences, there is still plenty of room for growth.

I think it’s time for me to get back to my podcast. I’ve been too lazy.

So, do you listen to podcasts? If so, got any good recommendations?

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How to make iPad publishing work

My last few posts have been bullish about tablet publishing as a way for any business, organization or individual to better get their message in front of a locked-in audience. Way back when, back when social media was first becoming a tactic that folks were starting to be aware of, I often reminded audiences during the speeches or seminars I conducted for business groups: “You can no longer expect people to come to you or your website. You have to be where they are already congregating.”

This is just as true today as it was back in the dark ages of 2007, as mobile devices continue to make irreversible inroads with consumers.

Today, I am thrilled to announce the publication of our first iBook, which you can download by clicking here. St. Mark’s School is a New England boarding school approaching its 150th anniversary. As an institution, it is embarking on a series of education and curriculum changes for the 21st century that go to the heart of the school’s mission of educating young people for lives of leadership and service. The changes are complex and require some explanation and background and the school was looking for a thought provoking (and conversation provoking) way to best communicate these changes to the alumni community as a whole.

We tried to blend text, photos and HD video into a rich experience that resonates with readers. Because of the user experience of the iPad, unlike a four-color brochure or PDF, there is a much better chance that your audience will connect with your content since you are reaching them in a way that is comfortable for them.

This particular iBook is directed at a specific niche for a specific purpose, but that is exactly the point and the beauty of tablet publishing. In order to get your message out, you can just get your message out.

Some ideas don’t fit into a tweet.

For more about tablet publishing, click http://bit.ly/JX03Yv

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NASA called, but I don’t get to be an astronaut

Over the past several years, I have really come to enjoy working in education. I always jump at the chance to give talks about social networking or online media to young people, and I enjoy finding out about the ways they are ACTUALLY using the internet, rather than the ways we all assume they’re using it. One day, I would love to start or be involved in a think tank that analyzes the significance of all these tectonic shifts in our methods of communication over the past 5 years, as I think there is much more substance that just staying on top of the latest apps or platforms.

For the past couple of years, I have served as a Trustee of St. Mark’s School, where I graduated high school, which has opened up tons of opportunities to talk and listen to teenagers about a whole range of issues, and not just ones related to the Internet. There are few things I find more exhilarating than having my assumptions challenged and every visit back to school provides me with plenty to think about.

A new opportunity has come my way, thanks to my St. Mark’s involvement, which promises to shake up my thinking even more. I have just been nominated to the NASA Advisory Council’s Education and Public Outreach Committee. [Those of you who know me are probably saying, "Huh???"] The committee supports the advisory needs of the NASA administrator and includes all education and public outreach related NASA programs, projects, activities and facilities.

I’m grateful and excited about the potential, and I look forward to learning more and supporting NASA’s work in this area as, I must confess, I don’t know as much as I should. Stay tuned for more updates. Who knows, I may be coming to a school near you.

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The Attack of the e-Reader

I may be a digital immigrant, but I fully support the customs, language and diet of this new digital country I find myself living in.

 

I get most of my news from blogs.

 

Most of my professional development comes via online sources.

 

I stay in touch with friends over the web.

 

I subscribe to about 20 different podcasts.

 

And about a year ago I got rid of my laptop in favor of an iPad.

When the first iPad came out, I couldn’t envision any viable use case for the way I lived my life. A fancy e-reader seemed like a nice toy, but I couldn’t see myself owning one. But a funny thing happened just prior to the release of the iPad2. I noticed that I was lugging my big laptop all across the country, but when I reached my destination, I found myself managing email (something done just as easily from my iPhone), scanning through my Google Reader and reading, reading, reading. As a long-time video producer, I would occasionally do presentations where I would need to bring my laptop to a meeting, but it was largely becoming a posture-killing appendage.

 

So I got an iPad, and ditched my laptop for good. So, what’s changed? Well, for starters I am no longer lugging a heavy laptop around, but, more importantly, I find I am reading more. Much more. The ease of sampling and buying books from the Kindle or iBooks store has exposed me to books that I might not have plunked down $25 for based on a review or a lengthy book store browse. I’m not alone.

 

According to a Pew Internet and American Life study, 20% of American adults have read an e-book in the past year and the average e-book reader has read 24 books in the past year, compared with an average of 15 by a non-e-book consumer. (Here is a link to the study.)

 

Clearly, this is a trend line that will only continue rising over the next several years into the future. There is quite a bit of talk about the “post-PC” world that many who try and predict this sort of thing feel we’re moving towards. In a nutshell, this means that as mobile and cloud-based computing begins  to dominate, many of us will do away with our laptops and desktops because everything we need to do fits in our pocket. I’m going to call bull shit on that prediction, but it is undeniable that the future of computing is mobile. I just don’t feel like it’s such an all-or-nothing proposition. Mobile will undoubtedly continue to take an ever larger share of the pie, but as I have pointed out many times before, radio didn’t kill TV and the automobile did not kill the horse. I’ll leave the apocalyptic predictions to others. (As I write this post, this just came in regarding first quarter iPad sales. Truly mind-boggling that Apple sold 63% of all tablets sold worldwide in one quarter.)

 

So, if people are reading more and more and Apple (and others) are selling more and more devices that fit easily into your purse or bag, what’s the opportunity for you or your business? The barriers to publishing are low and the versatility of e-publications is only going to continue to improve. You can already seamlessly embed video, audio, photos, links, etc etc etc. into your publication, whether that publication is a standard book, or something more focused on your business, industry or organization.

 

 Maybe you want to take a second look at some of those old brochures, folders and presentations that never got the distribution you felt they deserved. 17 million iPads in three months. That’s a lot of eyeballs…

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