Reviews, Views and Adventures in Content Creation

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Vlogger Interviews: MaddiePost1

About this Interview:
Maddie - MaddiePost1 on YouTube - considers herself to be in a rare vlogging category - she's a woman in her forties that's not vlogging about her family.  She first discovered the world of vlogging through some of the popular make-up vlogs, but soon discovered the wide range of entertainment available in the vlogging world.  Eventually, she decided to try her own hand, and she's having a great time.  Like most vloggers, she enjoys the interaction with her subscribers, and extends her online community to Google Plus Hangouts.  Maddie also shared a concern that many women vloggers have expressed - the very real concern about maintaining privacy and security while continuing to enjoy her online interaction.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Who is the REAL Generation C? Nielsen's "US Digital Consumer Report"

I wouldn't be the first person to say that technology is moving so fast that we're all perpetually out of date with the cutting edge.  That's particularly true for studies about our technological society.   A report released today,  Nielsen and NM Incite’s U.S. Digital Consumer Report, offers some eye-opening statistics about the current (or recent) state of the social media landscape.  One of the report's most prominent findings is that Americans 18-34, which the report calls "Generation C" (for connected) are the greatest consumers of online content, from video, to social networking to blogging.

Some of the overall findings shouldn't be any surprise - the number of Americans with Internet access has doubled since 2000, to approximately 274 million. 64% of mobile phone time is spent on apps.  42% percent of tablet owners use them at the same as they watch television.  Except for tablets,  males and females are both well represented across social media devices (males currently use tablets to a greater extent).

58.8 percent of "Generation C" access social media through their mobile phones (versus 36.3% of the 35-54 year olds (in other words, they're on constantly).

The graphic-based report is a worthwhile read -  entrepreneurs and content creators will undoubtedly find it useful and thought provoking.  I wonder, though, if some of the stats don't reflect the immediate present.    In a section entitled, "An in-depth Look at the Digital Consumer," most stats show 13-17 year-olds to be near the bottom of the scale in several categories, including online video viewers (14% of the audience) and social network/blog visitors (13%).  

I suspect that the actual percentages of 13-17 year-old digital consumers may be considerably higher (though will naturally be somewhat restrained by practicalities of school and finances).  In fact, I believe that their numbers likely rival those of the 18-34 year-olds.  As the first group born into the age of socail media, they may, in fact, be the true "Generation C" -  savvy users, consumers and creators of digital content.

As always, I welcome and encourage your comments!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Vlogger Interviews: Austin Null [TheNiveNulls]

About this interview:
Austin didn't expect to do anything but record his life with Brittany, and share their adventures with friends.  Their channel records their life, but also includes comedy, skits and other creative content - it's a way for the outgoing and upbeat couple to have a good time together - and share it with friends.   The audience for TheNiveNulls grew over time, and now includes thousands who enjoy sharing their lives, and anticipate the birth of Austin and Brittany's child, due in June.

One of the emerging themes across a number of the Vlogger Interviews is the understanding by vloggers that they are creating an intimate archive of their lives - in effect, it just may be a very contemporary equivalent of the old-school photo album.  Imagine looking through old photo albums and hearing the voices and thoughts and witnessing the experiences of relatives from generations past.  Imagine Austin and Brittany's child looking back at the lives of her parents in the months before she was born - and seeing in very real terms, who they were long ago in 2012...

Friday, February 17, 2012

The Vlogger Interviews: JostenDooley

About this Interview:
In this Vlogger Interview, I spoke with Josten Dooley [JostenDooley on YouTube], a college student in North Carolina who vlogs every day. Why?  Partly, Josten is archiving his life so that he can look back on his personal evolution for years to come.   Josten also appreciates that many consider one of the most exciting benefits of Vlogging:  The opportunity to get to know people from virtually anywhere in the world - developing diverse friendships that were inconceivable  just a decade ago.

Also, discover why traditional television just doesn't have the appeal it once had...

 Enjoy the interview!

(click on the YouTube Logo to view this on my channel)

Monday, February 13, 2012

Outside the (Storytelling) Box

Are you stuck in one dimension?

On a recent visit to a Barnes and Noble bookstore (to actually buy something, rather than target titles to download!) I came across a display for a new young adult novel that signals a developing option in storytelling.

"Chopsticks," by Jessica Anthony, is a mystery about the disappearance of Glory, a teen piano prodigy, and her relationship with Frank, an artistic boy next door.  According to the official description, "nothing is what it seems, and Glory's reality is not reality at all."  Through words, pictures and photographs, the reader has to determine the line between what is real, what is imagined - and and what is madness.

The display at Barnes and Noble drew my attention, however, because it suggests far more than a straightforward literary experience: "A Book.  An App.  A Website. A Love Story. Read It. View It. Experience It."  Storytelling, in this case, expands beyond the page and engages the reader through other platforms.

A cursory view of the description for the $6.99 iPad/iPhone app suggests that it offers additional features to help readers solve the mystery at hand, and delve deeper into the lives of the central characters.   For example, readers can explore hidden clues in Glory's scrapbook, drill down into the CD mix she shares with Frank, or watch their IM conversations "live." In some cases, there's even video.

I haven't read the book, or bought the app - but the concept of storytelling across platforms is intriguing - for the right premise.   Differentiating true storytelling with a promotional gimmick, however, will be the challenge.

Both traditional and online content creators involved in creative storytelling seem to remain focused on building linear, platform-specific product, providing only supplementary and fan-related content across other platforms.  Few, it seems, are looking for ways to enhance or expand the story experience across these platforms.

What do you think?  I'd also like to hear about vloggers or other online content creators who are experimenting with multi-platform storytelling.  Let me know - I'd love to share your experience.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

The Vlogger Interviews: Eric, of Epoddle [Coco Bean & Eze)

About this Interview:
Today's Vlogger Interview features Eric, 'EzE' of "CoCo Bean and EzE," a comedy / family vlog formally known at as Epoddle.   Eric's vlogs usally center on loosely scripted comedy sketches centered around his adventures with his four year-old son, known to YouTubers as "CoCo Bean." What began as a fun father-son (and family project) has turned into a growing YouTube channel.   We spoke about the origins of the channel, speculated on his son's future as a true child of vlogging - and preserving his family's privacy as their YouTube fame grows.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Vlogger Interviews: Kyle Marshall [Maddog53]

Maddog53, 28 year-old Kyle Marshall, spoke with me from Calgary, Canada about his commitment to vlogging and it's growing popularity:  Now, even his mom knows what it is!

Kyle talks about the continuing evolution of his YouTube channel.  Though he has been posting videos on YouTube for several years, a visit to Vidcon, the YouTube content creator's conference, provided the inspiration for Kyle to make his vlogging commitment.   In the interview, discover the television icon he'd like to emulate in the world of vlogging.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Resisting Tech in Classrooms Isn't the Answer

In his recent Los Angeles Times column, "Who Really Benefits From Putting High Tech Gadgets in Classrooms??", Michael Hiltzik criticized U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan and FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski for promoting the adaptation of digital technology into American classrooms.   He points out derisively how Thomas Edison suggested essentially the same thing in 1913 - primarily to promote a wider adaptation of the motion picture technology whose patents he then controlled.    Hitzik's argument, essentially, is that the adaption of equipment like iPads and laptops takes resources away from "maintaining good teaching practices and employing good teachers in the classroom," and that our top educators have "bought snake oil" benefiting only certain corporations and private interests.

While Hiltzik may very well be correct in his assertion that at least part of this push has been driven by Apple and other corporate interests, he seems unappreciative of the deeper value in providing students with what are essentially critical tools necessary to compete effectively in the evolving modern workplace.   True, an iPad in and of itself isn't a solution to any problem, but merely a means to an important ojective: to allow students to connect, collaborate, and network - to learn and use social media to accomplish their goals, obtain quality employment, or even create their own opportunities in our increasingly information-based economy.

The greatest challenge in bringing technology into the classroom is making certain that teachers are prepared to provide the proper guidance in using this connective technology.   Social media, after all, isn't simply a means through which to share the minutiae of our lives -it's a means through which individuals anywhere can communicate with others worldwide, and build a network of like-minded and interested friends and/or colleagues.

These concepts seem to be largely missing in the larger national discussion about technology in the classroom.   This isn't about iPads and laptops - it's about online interaction and collaboration.

Students should know about how some of their compatriots - young entrepreneurs, activists and artists - are successfully using social technology.  They need to be celebrated and studied by their peers, and understood by their teachers.  The question remains:  who can teach a skill that is only now evolving?

Embracing technology in the classroom is only part of the challenge.  Learning to use technology to build community may be the single greatest benefit.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

The Vlogger Interviews: So Far

With Zennie62 - Zennie Abraham, I've completed my 20th Vlogger Interview, a project I began last fall with the intention of interviewing a wide cross-section of the  vlogging (video blogging, for those new to the concept) community (here's the full list). I began vlogging myself - on and off at least - since 2010, and I've become fascinated with the concept of vlogging as a new means of expression - even a new art form apart from film and television.

I've discovered, in my effort to demystify vlogging, that searching for precise definitions may be futile. In fact, to paraphrase Margaret Fabrizio (ATree3), it may only be possible to further "mystify" vlogging.  The more vloggers I meet, the more elusive any answer becomes.  The more the community grows and expands, the more it reflects the diversity of people in general.

Age is certainly not a limitation here, (though at times I felt ancient attending Vidcon, the YouTube content creator’s conference).   I've interviewed vloggers ranging in age from 15 to 81 years old.    Discovering the unifying visions that all of these individuals share is one of the more fascinating aspects of this process.

Motivations vary widely.  There are some who vlog simply for self expression, sharing their views or artistic visions.  Others vlog for fame, seeking a YouTube partnership or their own reality show.  Still others have found vlogging as a jumping-off point to bigger and better things.

Andrew Brackin is only seventeen.  His early experience as a vlogger not only introduced him to new friends, but to a world of possibilities already within his reach before he reached his mid-teens.  Today, he's both a high school student on the verge of graduation -  and an veteran web entrepreneur.   I think he could represent the first of a new breed of entrepreneurs combining tech and business savvy with social networking skills that could generate lightning-fast growth and development.

Zennie Abraham, on the other hand, is an entrepreneur who blogged and then vlogged  - first to promote his business.  Then, he realized that vlogging itself could be his business.  He's a good example of someone who thinks outside the box in which so many long-time professionals tend to seal themselves.

Ali Jardine (RogueBlueJay), 20; and Harrison Houde (xTurnipTimex), 15, are young filmmakers that represent the early dawning of a new age of content creators.  As Ali said, the "secret handshake" of Hollywood's filmmakers in the years to come may not be a shared film school, but a shared experience in the wild virtual streets of YouTube.

Harrison Houde, a professional actor (best known so far in a memorable comedic role as  the boy who touched the cheese in the first "Wimpy Kid" movie), is also an aspiring filmmaker, and just may have the ability to merge his two interests – years earlier than generations before him.

The first vlogger I knew was Kenrg, an old high school friend whose online creativity I've followed over the years.  He's always been an early adaptor on the social media front, and was an early vlogger on YouTube.   Looking back, he notes that vlogging and the community interaction it made possible has moved beyond the simpler – and singular - canvas of early YouTube, and now extends across a number of social media platforms.  A vlogger on YouTube may interact with followers through Facebook, Twitter, personal blogs, and countless other sites.

Vloggers are a creative, dynamic group that are effectively state-of-the-art storytellers.   They have an appreciation of the power of self-expression, and lead the way (though they may not recognize it) showing the social media-phobic public the excitement and importance of developing a worldwide community.

I want YOU for a Vlogger Interview!
I’m continuing with the Vlogger Interview project.   I have a long way to go to create an accurate snapshot of the community.   There are still a number of sectors that I've under-represented so far - women, in particular.  I want to maintain and further develop a mix known vloggers, and little-known, new or unknown vloggers.  Together, they all tell a story about the future of media and society as a whole.

I’d also like to do my part to share the richness of this community.  I've made the decision that I'll be publishing an e-book later this year recalling these interviews, exploring some vloggers in more detail, and sharing some interesting parallels with early filmmaking history.

But first – more interviews!  If you're passionate about vlogging, contact me at - I'd love to talk to you!