Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Social Media Meet-Up in Santa Cruz, CA, September 18, 2010

Along with my friend Curt (known as OhCurt on YouTube and elsewhere online), I'm organizing a Social Media Meet-Up (or SMMU) on the Santa Cruz Pier for September 18, 2010, 10 AM to 3 PM.

In the past I've been to several YouTube gatherings, but the social media landscape is much broader than that now. I've been here, on blogger, for nearly a decade, YouTube for about four years, twitter and facebook since they each launched, and the community is very fluid, with people migrating from on platform to another as their interests and needs shift.

One day video bloggers may be posting vlogs on YouTube, but the next on Vloggerheads or Vimeo, or micro-vlogs on 12seconds. Bloggers now tweet, and status updates from twitter now automatically post to facebook or buzz. It's a fascinating time, and there are lots of great people involved, and the SMMU is an attempt to get them all together for a great time and learn about how we're all using social media in an informal and fun setting.

For all the details on the SMMU (location, time, etc.), please see the SMMU blog at, or the join our facebook group. Meanwhile, here's a little announcement video about the event:

Monday, July 05, 2010

Why I'm Not Going to Vidcon

Next week in Los Angeles is Vidcon: "The first ever gathering of the most influential and popular independent video makers online and the communities that have made them a force in the world."

Many are saying Vidcon "is just a con," "It should be free," "What do they know that I don't?" etc. I disagree with all that. I would love to attend, and find true value in, a serious conference about online video, and where all this is going, and $140 would be a bargain ... if it were the right conference.

Unfortunately, Vidcon is not that conference. And not because they're charging admission, or because of who is organizing it, or who the speakers are, but simply because of the lack of serious in-depth content.

Looking at which of my own vlogs have received the most hits, the strongest reactions, and most emotional comments, it's the ones on copyright and DMCA issues.  I think most of us agree, that's a major problem on YouTube. But at Vidcon, there's a single 1/2-hour break-out session on "YouTube Policy, DMCA and Fair Use" (with "Meet Charles Trippy" going on in the next room over), but nothing on "What IS the law," "What IS fair use," "How to protect yourself," or anything on finding royalty free music, public domain images, etc.

There's a handful of sessions under the heading of "Online Video Film School," but none of them long enough to teach anything in depth or that will be remembered once the attendees return home. And, for each "Online Video School" there are two "Meet-up with [famous 'Tuber]" sessions.

There's a session on the Future of YouTube, lead by YouTube's "Director of Product Management," but nothing on the future of online video or social media as a new and exciting medium in which to create original work.

It seems to me (IMHO) that Vidcon – however well-intentioned the organizers may have been – will be more of trying to fit new media into an old media shell, and relying on "star power" to drive attendance and excitement for the event.

I look at the schedule and there's dozens of short sessions with no point to them, and not a single in-depth educational session that I might get anything out of. It's the short-attention-span YouTube gathering, and not much more.

I've attended many, many professional conferences over the years, and I've even helped organize at least a dozen or so conferences, but I've never seen such a jumbled, aimless mess of a schedule than the one for Vidcon.

My friend Rich of WorldAccordingToRich will be at Vidcon. He's interested in what "approach the entertainment industry at large is taking with the YouTube phenomena," and is hoping to get some insight into that. I get the importance of it to him professionally, but it has very little significance to me.

For social media to truly continue its growth into something new and different, we must allow it space away from "the entertainment industry at large." YouTube is more a phenomenon from Silicon Valley than from Hollywood, and its impact is (and should be) anything but localized to any dominant region. Social media belongs to the world, and there's nothing Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, or London can do about it.

In the last couple of years, the growing and nearly over-powering influence of old media on YouTube, simply as a means to promote movies/TV, has threatened to drown out those who are using YouTube to develop something entirely new. Yes, social media (YouTube, twitter, etc.) can be used to promote other traditional media, but if they become mediums that are nothing but promotional vehicles, they will die quickly.

I think there's so much more potential to new media yet to be discovered that I – personally (IMHO) – have no time to care about how Hollywood will use it.

I will watch the vlogged reports from Vidcon from WorldAccordingToRich and Renetto and others I know who are attending. But I don't expect to regret my decision to stay home.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Not Technically Unemployed

I'm not technically unemployed... I just have no work. There's a difference...

This is a blog post I've thought about writing for a couple of weeks, as so many of my friends are going through extended periods of unemployment, under-employment, or "being made redundant." Isn't that a great term? Being told that you're now "redundant." Great way to add insult to injury, don't you think?

On the one hand, I like to [try to] keep a positive public face about my current situation, be optimistic about future opportunities, and not look like I'm seeking sympathy, but in the end, I've decided it's more important to let my "redundant" friends know that they're not alone.

So, no, technically I'm not unemployed, as I'm a self-employed consultant ... I just haven't had anyone to consult to since April 1, and my only income for the last three months has been $22.82 in book royalties. Being self-employed means that when the work dries up, there's no unemployment benefits or severance packages, just the search for the next gig.

Part of being independent is that there's ups and downs. The last several long-term gigs have come one on top of the other, even over-lapping major assignments. A "high quality problem," as Tom G. would say. But since April 1, there's been a disconcerting silence from my usual sources of leads, and very little I've been able to dig out on my own.

I've been searching for irons and fires and trying to put them together, but I can see I may have a significant bit of down-time before the next long-term assignment. In six and-a-half years of being in business for myself, this is the most difficult time I've had. Of course, considering the economy, I suppose three months of downtime after a 6-1/2 year stretch isn't all that bad.

That said, overall, I again count my blessings and say "high quality problem," but that doesn't make it any easier. Especially when it's summer, and my wife (a teacher) is also without paycheck for a couple of months, and we've got contractors bidding on re-doing our bathroom and other repair work.

So, I keep in touch with colleagues and let them know I'm available, I read the job listings to see if there's anything to tempt away from my independent practice back into "a real job," and I've started another book project of some nonprofit case studies from my last several long-term consulting gigs.

All-in-all, I've been keeping myself busy, and I plan on enjoying the summer, even if I have to do it on a lower budget than I might prefer.

So, for those of you who are redundant, I share your pain. Even though we all know "it's the economy, stupid," it's hard not to take some of it as a personal failing in moments of weakness. But we just have to push past that, keep ourselves occupied, and look for that next great opportunity. It's out there somewhere. It has to be.

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