Reviews, Views and Adventures in Content Creation

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Vlogger Interviews: Zennie Abraham [Zennie62]

About This Interview:

During the Vlogger Interviews, I've had the opportunity to meet vloggers with a wide range of sometimes overlapping motivations.  Some vloggers simply to express themselves; others for fame, and others for social interaction.  One of the most creative and growing areas in the vlogging community, I feel, is using vlogging as a tool for entrepreneurship.  The same basic rule applies across all vlogs: create quality content that respects your audience.

Zennie Abraham (Zennie62 on YouTube), once a Planner for the City of Oakland, began vlogging as a means to supplement his entrepreneurial efforts.  Sports Business Simulations, for example, allows students to manage sports teams through an online simulation, creating an environment that would allow a team not only to be successful, but profitable as well.   He soon discovered that vlogging itself was something that not only added value to what he was already doing, but could transport him to a host of new opportunities.

Zennie has blogged and vlogged on a wide range of subjects, ranging from sports to entertainment to politics.  He was one of the very first blogger-journalists to be allowed to report online at the 2005 NFL draft - the next year, he had a video camera in hand.

His efforts have earned him appearances on CNN, an early YouTube partnership, and a rare close-up understanding of how vlogging has evolved, where it stands today - and how it can grow in the future.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Vlogger Interviews: Teen Entrepreneur Andrew Brackin

In a few months, seventeen year-old Andrew Brackin will graduate from high school.  The London, UK resident will have time to pursue the things he loves - and dive full-time into his ambition to be a web entrepreneur.  He's been a part-time entrepreneur for most of his teen years, and has several web-based projects already behind him.

His own journey began when he was just 13, and began vlogging on YouTube - building an audience and making friends across the UK and around the world - and introducing him to the world of entrepreneurship.  He could be called, I suppose, a child of social media, with a network and a sensibility that almost certainly will set his generation apart from those before.

Though he's already achieved modest success, he has no illusions about where's he's at - and where he needs to go, "I don't think I'm anywhere near "there" yet - I feel I'm at step one of many, many steps."

One of earliest projects, [no longer in operation], evolved out of day-long experiment in music streaming, and evolved into a year long experiment.  After finding that licensing mainstream artists would be too expensive and complicated, he personally contacted hundreds of independent artists and record labels to secure their permission - and created a 24/7 operation that involved more than a dozen DJ's - all friends he'd made through YouTube and other social media (with BillTVMacon providing an automated voice for the station when DJ's weren't available.  Though Tunevibez never made money, "it was great fun," and expanded his community of friends and followers.

Today, he's the co-founder of, a Groupon-like site aimed at a tech-minded audience.  It has eighty thousand members worldwide so far, offering discounts on specialized products like font packs, ftp software, and productivity software.  It's continued to help raise Andrew's profile, generating media interviews - and even a brief mention in the Wall Street Journal's "Marketwatch" column.

As Andrew moves on, he's already giving back to other young entrepreneurs.  He's careful to say he doesn't offer advice - but the benefit of his experience.  He encourages other like-minded teens to "break every rule...failure is good.  I've failed many times."

He also offers a perspective to other teens that might leave some of his older counterparts scratching their heads.  It makes perfect sense, in this author's opinion, if you take into account a teen just beginning to comprehend the possibilities ahead.

"Lots of people talk about business plans, and I just feel like, you know, if you have one set vision, when you write a business plan right at the start of your company, and that's the time when you're company's going to change the most...because you do all this early learning about the market, just naturally, reading about other companies, or contacting your first partners, or customers, you'll learn really big lessons which will change your company and essentially, if you  have a business plan, it's very hard to do that, your mind is set.

"So basically, don't be worried, don't be afraid to make mistakes, and if you work on something long enough and hard enough, and listen to the people around you, you will be able to succeed. "

This year, upon graduation from high school, Andrew's ready to take his ambitions to the next level.  He intends to come to Silicon Valley and work on an as-yet-undisclosed new project.  "I'd like to do something really disruptive," he says.  He hopes, of course, to eventually  pursue start-up and/or venture capital funding, following the path of so many tech entrepreneurs before him.

After chatting with Andrew, however, I can't help but anticipate how his powerfully connected generation might impact the established tech world, as the Gates and Jobs generation shook up the tech world in the 70's.

More on Andrew Brackin:

Saturday, January 7, 2012

The Vlogger Interviews: Noah [Knowahsark]

If you really want to understand the massive impact that online video is only beginning to bring to the media industry, it's important to go right to the prime audience - the teens that are not only consuming online entertainment, but creating it as well.

18 year-old Noah is a freshman in college.  He's both an enthusiastic member of the vlogging audience, and an occasional vlogger himself (he's Knowahsark on YouTube).  In many ways he's typical of the more media savvy of  his generation.  Like many of his friends, he's found YouTube content more attractive than typical television fare.  He's also a new perspective that's likely keeping traditional media executives awake at night.

"I definitely think YouTube videos / online media is more appealing," he says, "and that might have to do with growing up with the internet, around the internet. I mean I've been online, on MySpace and Zynga, those sort of things since 5th grade.  And so I think that might play a part, but I think just seeing what other people can create without...big television networks and crews and that sort of thing - people can create their own content, which I find just as, if not more entertaining than what's on TV. For instance, like, I've been watching the VlogBrothers for years now (which sounds really weird to say).  I just find it so much more engaging and interactive and you feel more a part of it, I guess."

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Uncanny Valley of "TinTin"

My latest 5-minute audio podcast - exploring the strange uneasiness I felt while watching "The Adventures of TinTin" The "Uncanny Valley" of "TinTin" (mp3)

Tuesday, January 3, 2012