Tivo is good for your love life

I just LOVE stories like this. Makes me feel vindicated in my Tivo-centric sedentary lifestyle.

According to a recent survey, 70% of DVR users say they can’t live without it. They go on to say that among technology gadgets, it is ranked second in importance only to the mobile phone. (I would mention that the company that conducted the survey creates the technologies necessary to deliver digital content to set top boxes and DVRs. Kind of like the Egg Board revealing that, gasp!, eggs are good for you! I said I WOULD mention it, but I’m not going to. No, I am not going let a conflict of interest get in the way of vindicating my nightly entertainment ritual. I will only cite surveys that already echo what I know in my heart to be true.)

60% of DVR owners with a partner felt it improved their relationships since it eliminated fights over what to watch, and exposed the other one to new programs. See, honey, “American Chopper” IS great, isn’t it?

Ah, Tivo. You’ll never abandon me.


Social Media Camp Miami

This weekend I participated in Social Media Camp Miami, a one-day event on Miami Beach as part of Mashable’s US Summer Tour 2008. If you’re unfamiliar with the “un-conference” format, the agenda is set by the attendees and they follow these four basic rules:

    1. There are no rules.
    2. Everyone is equal.
    3. Give back to the conference by participating actively.
    4. All sessions must obey the law of two feet. If you’re not getting what you want out of the session, you can and should walk out and do something else.

I was very curious to see who would be in attendance and why, since I am still trying to assess the level of activity, interest and participation in new media, social media and 2.0 in Miami. There were a lot of familiar faces, but far more unfamiliar ones, which was encouraging.


On the spur of the moment, I decided to present about the issues I sometimes face with clients in trying to measure the success of a social media strategy. You’re only allotted 15 minutes, but I tried to get information from the attendees as to who they were, what they did and why they had decided to attend this particular event. My feeling is, if I just get up there and drone on about myself, my company and my services, then it becomes a conference like any other, and there would be nothing “un-” about it. Not sure if my presentation added any value, but I did feel a little let down by two things I saw at this particular event (and I have been to many of them).

First, I felt that the some of the sessions turned into product pitches which did little to adhere to the stated goal of having “the brightest minds…share what they know with the world.” There were some pretty shameless sales pitches going on when what was needed, which I TRIED to provide (not making any claims of success), were some tales of experiences in working with social media. I think the South Florida market is still very young as it pertains to social media adoption on the enterprise level. I understand that not every single person in attendance was there because they find themselves in the SM business. But, if the goal is to build awareness and understanding and try and inform people about what is going on in the space, then I think the event may have fallen a little short.

Second, it strikes me that if you’re going to talk about what you know, it is critical to know to whom you are talking. If I am in front of a convention of plumbers, I better not bring my speech geared to the Greater Minneapolis Association of Travel Professionals. Not sure how to tackle this problem since the point of these events is to cast a wide net and, getting back to the law of two feet, if someone sticks with your presentation, presumably they are interested in what you have to say. An issue that goes hand in hand with “know your audience” has to do with promotion of the events themselves. True to its calling, the promotional efforts for this social media camp were done using strictly social media tools (as far as I could tell). I found out about it through both Facebook and an RSS feed I subscribe to. What this produces, however, is a choir of converts who already get it. Again, what’s needed, in my opinion, is a forum to explain to the curious but uninitiated segment of the population who want to learn more about the power of SM but don’t know where to turn. Informal gatherings like these are the perfect, low pressure venue. But it’s not even a matter of all of us preaching to the choir. We need to get a whole new set of people into the church.

Miami’s 2.0 community continues to grow and there are encouraging signs of life in terms of the network of developers, PR people, producers and visionaries. That Miami was even on Mashable’s list of tour stops is hopefully more than just a signal that the event’s organizers wanted to hang out on South Beach for a weekend.

[Yoono.com deserves special mention for their efforts in organizing and keeping things flowing.]

Google/Viacom update

It seems as if privacy concerns have carried the day when it comes to the court ruling that handed over to Viacom highly detailed YouTube user logs. After hackles were raised online and elsewhere, Viacom maintained they had never requested information that could have been tied back to individual users. (Not true.)

A new court order allows YouTube to substitute anonymized data in place of user IDs, IP addresses and visitor IDs.

It’s probably a good idea to keep a close eye on this case as it winds its way through the court system. All is clear for now, but things have a way of changing. They already have once, right?

IP does not stand for “Internet privacy”

In the United States, civil liberties and privacy protections have been under siege for some time now. While this is
not a political blog, there are some scary things happening out there that affect virtually everyone who has ever used a computer. (This means you.) The recent ruling did not get as much press as it might have, largely because it happened right before the July 4th holiday. So, in case you missed it:

Viacom sued YouTube awhile back for allowing distribution of their copyrighted materials. On July 2, 2008, a US District Court judge issued a ruling requiring YouTube to turn over massive amounts of user data to Viacom, a notoriously litigious company. This data includes YouTube usernames, IP addresses and every video that users may have viewed. The judge, who is 87 years old, dismissed the privacy concerns as “speculative.” (I point out his age for a reason. Digital issues are different from analog ones and I believe it is fair to question whether someone who was graduated from law school in 1955 is the best person for the job.)  Regardless of whether you agree or disagree, this is setting up to allow Viacom to come after individual users, just like the RIAA did when people downloaded music. The point is, by releasing all this data, it oversteps the parameters of the lawsuit, in which Viacom seeks to understand the popularity of copyrighted vs. non-copyrighted material. (To be clear, I am not suggesting that Viacom should not protect their copyrights. They absolutely should. Copyright laws in a digital age are far from perfect, but for the moment, they’re all we have and artists need to be protected.)

Google/YouTube, for its part, has shown no backbone and thrown all of us poor users under the bus. That means you, that means me, that means everyone who has been on YouTube, which is virtually everyone who has ever logged onto a computer. Did you realize you might have been violating the law way back when you might have checked out last night’s Daily Show on YouTube before all their episodes were moved to their own website? Of course not.

Viacom can fight this suit with anonymized logs and Google/YouTube ought to have more spine. They’re Google for God’s sake. I think they can afford lawyers. They should be defending their users’ right to privacy.

Today (8 July 2008), the US Senate will be voting on the FISA bill. FISA might seem far removed from your day to day life. Your not a terrorist, right? You’ve got nothing to hide. WRONG!

Phone companies should not be sharing what calls you make/take. Video stores shouldn’t share what movies you rent (anyone here old enough to remember failed Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork?). And YouTube should not be rolling over so easily and giving up its users’ information.

There is still time for Google/YT to reconsider, of course. But this ruling, and scores others like it over the past 7 years, have a chilling effect on our rights. Nothing you do online is private. Nothing.

So you think you can’t dance?

I'm not sure why this video resonated so strongly with me on an emotional level, but it did.

The story goes that Matt is a self-described "deadbeat from Connecticut" who back in 2003 quit his job in Australia and traveled around Asia. He created a site to keep his friends and family informed of his whereabouts. One day, someone videotaped him doing this goofy dance he does. Well, the goofy dance video got noticed a couple of years later by the people at Stride Gum. They paid for him to travel around the world AGAIN doing the goofy dance (and handing out gum, I guess). The response was so great that Stride sent him around the world a third time, but this time Matt invited all the people who had e-mailed him to do the goofy dance along with him.

If you want more details, you can find them here or here. In the meantime, this video has been viewed over 2 million times on YouTube. Not bad for a goofy guy doing a goofy dance. Not bad for Stride Gum. Maybe this internet video thing is for real, huh?

Can I add “iTV star” to my resume?

WARNING: Shameless plug, but we really DO love the service.

Today marked the announcement of the new 3G iPhone at  WWDC in San Francisco. Lost in the avalanche of media coverage of this new device was another story about a service that we really like called MediaSilo.

We found out about it after NAB in 2007 and it has really helped us a lot in our business. Essentially, it is a way to streamline the video editing and approval process with clients who either are unwilling or unable to sit in an edit session due to time constraints or geography. For us, with so many clients outside of our base of Miami, it has proven to be a godsend as it tackles the problems of time zone differences, uploading and downloading huge video files and approvals.

Here’s a little video of me talking about their service that can be found on their blog. This product is not for everyone, but for those of you in the video production business, I am not sure how we ever got along without it.

iPhone, schmiPhone. THIS is the video everyone’s gonna be talking about. (OK, maybe not so much…)

Minorities and New Media

I have been hearing a lot lately about how minorities are huge consumers of new media. An interesting study from BIGresearch was revelatory.

Their survey of nearly 16,000 participants showed, among other things, that minorities have a higher regular usage of new media than whites and they are more likely to use iPods, text messaging, play videogames, IM and watch videos on cell phones.

President of BIGresearch, Gary Drenik says, “Minorities are using new media in higher percentages, providing marketers with unique opportunities to create specific marketing plans that integrate non-traditional media options into their digital ad strategy.”

Drilling down even deeper, online Hispanics, independent of their language and acculturation levels, are heavily engaged in technology. Hispanic-American internet usage is greater than that of the general US population.

Last time I checked, all money spends the same, no matter who is spending it.

Podcasting in plain English

Some concepts are more easily explained with pictures. Podcasting might be one of them. If you have never downloaded or sampled a podcast, it can be difficult to wrap your head around the concept of how the whole thing works.

Enter Common Craft. Spend 3 minutes watching this brilliant and clever video and you’ll realize that there is a whole world out there beyond what TV and radio can give you. We’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: podcasts and other forms of online video ain’t gonna REPLACE TV, but isn’t it nice to know you have a range of options?

Online media: CASE CLOSED!

Today comScore reported that in February 2008, US internet users watched 10 billion videos, up 3% from January and up 66% from one year ago. Google/YouTube led the way by a mile with 35% of all viewer traffic, with FOX Interactive a distant second at about 6%. The average online video viewer took in 75 videos in a month.

What is happening on the podcast front, you ask? The news is even more upbeat. 23 million people downloaded a podcast in the past month and the audio podcast audience raced up a staggering 38% with the video podcast audience up an even more impressive 45% since 2007. Sales growth of new iPod models and the iPhone has resulted in nearly 4 in 10 Americans now owning an iPod or other portable MP3 player, although this is somewhat misleading since fully 75% of podcasts are watched or listened to on people’s computers and never get transferred to another device.

Edison Media Research concluded, “Continued growth and ubiquity means media companies need to have a podcast and iPod/MP3 player strategy.” They also point out that broadband adoption has fueled remarkable growth of online video in addition to online audio so it is “important to provide compelling video options in addition to audio to hold your audience longer.”

Now if we could only figure out a workable advertising model…

The price of convenience

Facebook. LinkedIn. Blackberrys and iPhones. Laptops. Tivo. Online everything.

E-mail never fulfilled its promise of the "paperless office," so it is unlikely that the unstoppable march of technology will make things easier for us. But what is the psychological effect of all these new conveniences? Anxiety, frustration and confusion is one answer. The feeling of constantly playing catch up is one that dogs all of us. But that feeling is not new. People with jobs and kids have felt this way since time immemorial: not enough time to do what I need to do.

Today there are an overwhelming set of choices available to us. We not only have to keep up with the changes in our industries, but now we might have to keep up with the constant technology changes that seem to trumpet themselves from the newspaper everyday. (Did I say "newspaper?" I meant internet- no one reads newspapers, or magazines or watches TV anymore, right?) And if your industry IS technology, you have the recipe for a nervous breakdown.

Research suggests that should you choose to live in the "always on" world, you may feel that your sense of orderliness and safety has been compromised. And that feeling might be more than temporary.  Anxiety, stress, depression, aggravation, distrust and procrastination have all increased at a societal level. Some blame, but not all, can be laid at the feet of technology. Think of the technological changes from 1990-2000 as compared to from 2001 to today.

So is all of this making you feel better or worse? This is not an advice blog, but for what it’s worth, the most successful people who can balance their lives are those who know how to set limits and boundaries. Just because you CAN be reachable at any moment, doesn’t mean you NEED to be.

The feelings that some of us have about all this stuff are real, so it’s always nice to know you’re not alone. (That is the power of any group from AA to the Small Business Administration- strength and support in like-minded numbers.) But the remedies are much more individualized and might require (gasp!) personal responsibilty.

I don’t want to bum everyone out, so watch this video and have a good laugh. It truly IS amazing how far we’ve come.

See more funny videos at CollegeHumor