Reviews, Views and Adventures in Content Creation

Saturday, October 30, 2010

A Really Messy, Overflowing Toolbox

My latest vlog asked the question, "Why Do We Create?"

I've been asking myself that question lately, in the midst of the various economic challenges we're facing - and no doubt enhanced by various political and news reports about the state of the things.  I generally try to avoid all the "sky is falling" hype, but every once in a while, it catches up to me.

Last Sunday, the newsmagazine "60 Minutes" ran a segment about an army of out-of-work engineers in Silicon Valley  - highly qualified specialists who nevertheless find themselves running out of unemployment benefits and without any real prospects equal to their employment history and education.

CNN's Fareed Zakaria wrote an essay in Time Magazine about his dreams of American growing up in a stagnant, depressed India in the 1970's - and how he feels that, for the moment, the situation seems reversed as we're in an era of pessimism and lack of (collective) drive.

But where are we, really?  There's no doubt we're in a  period of transition.  Our anxiety, of course, comes from a fear of just where we're going - both as a nation and individually.  Almost every self-employed person I know feels equal anxiety about their future.  The fully employed, also, wonder if they're adequately valued.  I've been in both situations, and it's one of the motivations that led me to my social media explorations (or Journey).

Still, I don't feel like I have any better definition now than I did six or eight months ago.  I have faith that we have better tools at our disposal than ever before to build and control our future.  My immediate goal is to learn to use those tools effectively.

I create to survive.  Whether it's my own projects, or as a "hired gun," it's how I make a living.  How I create, however, is changing and evolving as never before.  How I make a living - how I use the tools -  is evolving as well.  When you really look at it, perhaps we're not simply challenged by a bleak employment landscape - but a really messy, overflowing toolbox..

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Era of the Reboot


It's a word I'm hearing more and more often, as professionals of all ages are re-thinking their current and future paths in their journey through the current economic hard times.

Rebooting isn't just adjusting to the current state of affairs; it's recognizing that the status quo in one's life needs to change.  Making a living, particularly at the behest of others, simply isn't doable anymore.   While the age of lifelong employment with one particular company is long gone, along with the assurance of a pension and even social security, the thought of long term survival is only now bubbling to the surface.  Simple understanding that you're likely to hold numerous jobs during your lifetime isn't enough; taking control of that future is now a priority.

Like it or not, we are becoming an entrepreneurial society.  Our individual survival will depend in large part on our ability to create a successful "personal brand" to keep us employed or moving ahead in our chosen profession.

So, in the sprit of rebooting and "doing something different," I'm going to try a bit of cross-platform "re-booting" theme - through YouTube, this blog, my audio podcast and perhaps even the Social Media Journeys blog, I'm going to create a complimentary series of media elements exploring this issue.  It's all part of my own personal reboot!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Dawn of Spamalot

With apologies to Monty Python, be prepared for an onslaught of spam brought on in the wake of "The Social Network."  Legions of the previously disinterested buisness people are diving into social media with an "if that punk Mark Zuckerberg can do it, so can I" attitude, and little more than a vague idea that they've got to get stuff out there.

They're jumping into Twitter, creating a presence on Facebook, and otherwise frantically attacking social media worlds with little more than a vague impression of the social landscape as little more than another billboard on which to post their wares.  In the next few weeks and months, you'll see (or in some cases, will be totally unaware) crude attempts at social media.  I've heard first-hand from some who were previously borderline hostile to the concept.  Now, a great piece of filmmaking has created a wider awareness of social media, but, in the short term, a lot of media garbage.

Yes, I know all this has existed before, but now it will explode as never before across the landscape.

 - The use of Twitter as little more than an advertising platform, with little interest in engagement, and little knowledge of how Twitter can be used for such engagement;
- The creation of a presence on Facebook with little understanding of how to build and maintain that presence; and
 - The attempt at building communities without the understanding of little more than a "build it and they will come" mentality.

The result?  A flood of new users, a rapid burnout, and a bonanza for social media "experts," and, finally, perhaps, a long-overdue shake-out in those who see this as a "get rich quick" scheme.

Despite all of this initial mess, the ultimate result just might be a better informed, wider community of users.

So, it's not all bad.  To quote Monty Python, "Spam, Wonderful Spam!"

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Content First. Tech Second!

In my filmmaking/moviemaking/content creating career, I've become aware of a distinct type of creator that values tech above everything.  Even the actual creation of something is second to having just the right equipment, or just the right software.  To these tech-nuts, it's an obsession that critically interferes with the creative process.   The tools are more important than anything else.   I've seen careers at a standstill for a perceived lack of "proper" equipment.

I remember one individual who had an entire studio and all of its equipment at his disposal for a couple of months - no strings attached.  He didn't take advantage of the opportunity.  Why?  They studio didn't have quite the right type of camera - and if he couldn't use that camera, he thought, what's the point of creating anything? The camera he wanted to use, by the way, was far out of his financial ability to rent.  Instead making the most of a substantial "grant,", he sat on his hands and let the opportunity pass him by, thinking the facility at hand far below his talents.  The chance to create content wasn't enough.

Once, I judged a documentary competition in which one of the submitted films was an incredible story of Bosnian and Serbian kids camping together away from the then-war zone.  It was a powerful, moving film - and it was shot with simple Sony Handycams.

I used to obsess about going to every tech seminar and convention - but I'm more selective now.  If you're in this to create, rather than operate equipment, you have to set priorities.   It's as if a writer spent most of her time attending book-binding conventions...

That's one of the things I love about the YouTube vibe - it's not based so much on equipment, but on content.  At it's best, there's some great storytellling with the simplest tools.  Of course, as there are horrible movies with the most expensive moviemaking technology, the same is even more common at the other end of the spectrum....

But I get a great subversive thrill at seeing YouTubers create great work with whatever is at hand.  Stuck "Professional" filmmakers, I think, can learn something from YT.

Content First.  Tech Second!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

New Blog: Social Media Journeys

I've just started contributing to "Social Media Journeys: Personal Adventures in a Wired World"  a blog run by Andy Gunton, known in social media circles as Andymooseman.   Andy's a veteran vlogger based in the UK.  I met him at a gathering here in Los Angeles last April organized by a mutual friend, Ken Goldstein (KenRG).  He's also contributing to the blog.

I love the concept of this new blog - while most blogs about social media focus on the commercial, this focuses on what is probably the more profound impact social media is having on our everyday, individual lives; it's already generated fundamental change in methods and frequency of human interaction from almost every angle. The very nature of friendship is being redefined.  With all of this technology just a few years old, we've only seen the beginning of the impact social media is certain to have in society at large.  Just ten years ago, we couldn't have imagined the nature of interaction in 2010.  I can't help but wonder about the reality of interaction in 2020.

Take a look at the new blog, and tell us what you think!