African proverb

I am not sure of the source of this proverb, but I have seen and heard it often, so I thought I would post it, in case you hadn’t.

If you want to travel fast, travel alone. If you want to travel far, travel together.

Everyone loves stats

I have said many times that the way we receive and consume media is going through a sea change. One thing I don’t see changing, however, is our desire to flop down on the couch and watch TV. It’s in our DNA. Interesting study to be released soon from E-Poll entitled "Multi-Platform Viewing of Video Content" confirms my suspicions:

Those that view video content away from the TV:
    75% view on a desktop
    46% on a laptop
    13% on an iPod

Considering television viewers, 13% currently transfer video content from their computer to their TV. Almost half did not realize that it was possible to do so and 55% of those who watch video content online say they are interested in transferring it to their TV sets.

Well, the devices that make this possible are hitting the market. Now you don’t have to be stuck in front of your computer anymore. Unless you’re downloading at work, of course.

Politics and podcasting

It was almost one year ago exactly that I first found out about podcasting. I was leaving on a family vacation across the country and I was anxious to load up my digital media player with music and some episodes of one of my favorite NPR programs, On the Media. By accident, I discovered the premiere of another podcast entitled This Week in Media. The two shows differ in that On the Media discusses the media business and how events are covered (or not covered) whereas This Week in Media talks more about trends and issues affecting content creators, consumers and enthusiasts. Time is devoted to talking about cameras, recording devices, online content creation, media news, trends, etc.

The point of this is that as I listened to the four man panel discussion in the first episode of This Week in Media last year, my reaction was "These guys are speaking directly to ME!" My mouth was hanging open during the entire hour of the podcast because I couldn’t believe that they could do something so highly targeted that was free from filler, sponsors, breaks, filters or anything. It was just raw unadulterated content about a topic that was completely fascinating to me. And here’s the kicker- if I wanted to follow up DIRECTLY with them, I could (and did).

The application of this technology in the political arena is something that people are just now waking up to. Newspapers are in decline (much to my unending sadness. There are few things more satisfying in life than reading a newspaper), and television is becoming less effective as a campaign tool. If you want to connect with voters, advocates, volunteers or students, you need to adapt these tools. The people who figure this out will emerge ahead. Those that don’t will continue to hemorrhage money doing things the old way.

James Boyce sums it up nicely in this post:

Finally, I saw more numbers from the 2008 Campaigns. The lesson of the
campaign will be a dramatic shift on how people raise money and run
campaigns. Television and newspaper advertising and direct mail will
not be effective in the 2008 campaign like they used to be. The tens of
millions of dollars raised will go, essentially, for naught.

Someone will spend $75 million plus and not sniff the nomination.
It’s Caveat Donor right now, but the major donors don’t see the writing
on the wall yet.

Three predictions:

A major city newspaper will fail or fold in the next twelve months.

The price will rise for good content – no matter where it’s from.

The 2008 candidate who invests in talent and new media not television, wins.

Values influenced business practices

When I decided to make a go of business on my own, I followed the path that I think many entrepreneurs pursue: how do I get the next client? As time goes on and confidence builds (and we get older) hopefully your personal values play a greater role in informing your business decisions.

Two issues that have been near to my heart for as long as I can remember are education and protecting the environment. Recently we worked with a client, sun21, who completed a transatlantic crossing on a boat that used only solar power. (You can see the video in our last post, or see it in iTunes.) The 5-man crew were truly an inspiring bunch and we are proud to have brought part of their story to a larger audience.

Another recent experience I had was participating in mock interviews with a group of Miami high school seniors at  Turner Tech who were completing a four year course in television production. There is a lot to say about this experience that I will save for another post, but suffice it to say that if the future of production and, indeed, the future of our country is in the hands of these young people, we have nothing to worry about.

sun21 transatlantic crossing

In a boat powered exclusively by the sun, five men crossed the ocean from Basel, Switzerland to New York City. They traveled more than 7000 nautical miles completely free from fossil fuels. Sun 21 completed an historic adventure while respecting the environment.

Join us to welcome the arrival of the sun21 on Tuesday, May 8 from 2:45 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the North Cove Marina in Battery Park City in New York City.

The sun21 transatlantic crossing put clean energy into practice. Now it’s your turn.

Watch the video produced by Clearcast Digital Media here.

Click here for video

Everyone’s catching on

TV networks are scared to death. They saw what happened to the music industry as it pertained to digital downloads, and they don’t want the same thing to happen to them. Can they fight it? I guess it remains to be seen. But then there’s this from the April 30 NY Times:

"The question probably never occurred to viewers in the 1970s and 1980s, but suddenly it is highly relevant: exactly how much worthwhile entertainment content was there in shows like “Charlie’s Angels,” “T. J. Hooker,” and “Starsky and Hutch”?

The Sony Corporation and its production studio, Sony Pictures Television, which controls the rights to those and many other relics of a distant era of television, have come up with an answer to that question: three and a half to five minutes.

That’s the length Sony has shrunk episodes down to in order to create what the company hopes is an appealing new business in retooling old shows for a new era of entertainment. Sony even has a name for these shrunken slices of television nostalgia: minisodes.

Sony Television is planning in June to introduce an Internet-based service called the Minisode Network, initially offering the mini-shows for an exclusive run on MySpace. (The company may consider establishing a separate Internet channel called the Minisode Network later.)

However and wherever it appears, the network will consist of a lineup of tightly edited versions of shows lifted off the shelves of Sony’s television library. These are not clips of the shows, but actual episodes with beginnings, middles and ends, all told in under six minutes.

As Steve Mosko, the president of Sony Television, described it, “So in ‘Charlie Angels,’ they have a meeting, Charlie’s on the intercom telling them what the assignment is, there’s a couple of fights, and then a chase, and they catch the bad guy. Then they’re back home wrapping it up.”

“T. J. Hooker,” an especially formulaic cop show from the early 1980s, can be seen in short bursts of action as William Shatner interrogates suspects, fires shots and chases bad guys. “Shatner is just hilarious,” Mr. Mosko said.

That sums up the main aim of the minisodes. Nobody expects these shows to captivate anyone with their exciting plotlines, writing or ageless acting. “It’s really campy and fun,” Mr. Mosko said.

What he would like it to be as well is lucrative. Like other holders of vast libraries of filmed entertainment, Sony Television has been seeking ways to squeeze new value out of old assets."

I guess if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. Another way of looking at it might be "Garbage in, garbage out."

Information as bread

I spend a lot of time marveling at the way the internet has transformed our lives. Anything you want to find out about, no matter how mundane or arcane, is out there. Totally unregulated, yes. But for the most part, it serves as an information repository. Information is the daily bread of our lives and the internet is the most searchable storage site.

As Bill Moyers observed, "Bread is life. But, if you’re like me, you have a thousand and more times repeated the ordinary experience of eating bread without a thought for the process that brings it to your table. The reality is physical: I need this bread to live. But the reality is also social: I need others to provide the bread. I depend for bread on hundreds of people who I don’t know and will never meet. If they fail me, I go hungry. If I offer them nothing of value in exchange for their loaf, I betray them. The people who grow the wheat, process and store the grain and transport it from farm to city; who bake it, package it and market it- these people and I are bound together in an intricate reciprocal bargain. We exchange value."

Ideas and information are the metaphorical bread. This is today’s reciprocity.

Connections

All relationships come down to connections. That is not news.  Something I try and remind myself of everyday can be expressed this way:  People will soon forget what you have accomplished  and long remember how you made them feel.

In an increasingly impersonal world, people seek out connections more urgently than ever before. "Visumes" (honestly, who comes up with these names?) are video resumes and are becoming more and more popular. Job seekers look to stand out from the pack by creating two-minute videos of themselves and employers have indicated that video resumes would become a common addition to future job applications. (NY Times- April 21, 2007) Today’s executives need to be both photogenic and telegenic for everything from basic blogs to podcasts.

Be ready for your 15 minutes of fame- it might be getting cut down to 7 1/2.

Thought on culture

One of my favorite essayists is Chuck Klosterman. If you’re a follower of pop culture trends and music and appreciate funny, elegantly articulated, if slightly sardonic, prose then Chuck is your man. His recent release entitled Chuck Klosterman IV has these observations about our culture:

Why, I wondered, do people so often feel let down by popular culture? Why do serious film fans feel disgusted when another stock Tom Hanks movie earns $200 million? Why do record store employees get angry when a band like Comets on Fire come to town and only twenty-two people pay to see them? Why do highly literate people get depressed when they look at the New York Times Best Sellers list, and why do anti-intellectuals feel contempt for critics who suggest The DaVinci Code is consciously targeted at dumb people? Why do nonreligious people think that the Christian Right shouldn’t have a voice in government? Why do conservatives get angry about the prospect of gay marriage, even if they’ve never met a gay person and never will? There’s always this peculiar disconnect between how people exist in the world and how the think the world is supposed to exist; it’s almost as if Americans can’t accept an important truth about being alive. And this is the truth to which I refer: culture can’t be wrong. That doesn’t mean it’s always “right,” nor does it mean that you always have to agree with it. But culture is never wrong. People can be wrong, and movements can be wrong. But culture-as a whole- cannot be wrong. Culture is just there.

Continued growth of the medium

Your media, your way. That ought to be the mantra of Clearcast Digital Media and of independent podcasters everywhere. Everywhere we look there is more evidence of TV and radio’s decline and the ascent of new media such as podcasting. Take a look at this from the NY Times of 16 April 2007.

    "…CBS [radio] and other broadcasters have been laboring to cling to listeners-many of whom are spending more time these days with their mobile phones, internet radio and portable music players.
…15 percent said they used digital music players, more than triple the figure two years earlier." (Source: Bridge Ratings, a radio research company.)

I think it will be a long time before we all give up on TV and radio. But what IS happening is that we are starting to give up on the WAY we get TV and radio. It started with the time shifting revolution of Tivo and continues on with user generated and professionally generated narrowcast content that the consumer  can watch when, where and how they choose.

I guess maybe the revolution WILL be televised!