Thursday, June 29, 2006

Clerks 2 Mobile

Jeff brought this to my attention. I think it's a brilliant idea.

The sequel to the no-budget Sundance discovery that started his career a dozen years ago, "Clerks II" sounds like a desperate retreat after "Jersey Girl." But it turns out to be a shrewd career move, in which Mr. Smith takes his characters into the present and even ratchets up his own forward-looking marketing skills. He has been cultivating fans on the Web for years, using his production company's site and his own online diary. In an ingenious new ploy, he has recorded a commentary for "Clerks II" that will be available for free download on iTunes, encouraging viewers to take their iPods to the theater for a second viewing. (Eventually the commentary will also be available on the official movie site,

They also have a ton of podcasts for this movie. But this is a cooler and more innovative mash up.


It's been a long week, and I'm looking forward to taking some time out of my Friday to catch a a little World Cup action.

Argentina/Germany and England/Portugal are tomorrow. That second match should be a bruiser, and who doesn't like the team that was the Nazi's matched up agains the team that hid the Nazi's?

I'm behind France to upset Brazil on Saturday.

Just to stay on point here, Nike is podcasting the hell out of the World Cup this year. It's a really cool viral marketing campaign. You can view video on their site, download it, get it on iTunes, put it on your mobile phone... it's very flexible content. And it's cool.

Here's one with French star Henri

Monday, June 26, 2006

Websites are so lame

I've heard a bunch of chatter lately about how RSS doesn't matter to mainstream web 2.0

It's not an accessible technology.

It's for techies and dorks.

I disagree.

When people talk about why RSS is so great, they usually go straight for the end user features. It's opt in. You subscribe and BANG, my blog or podcast or photos or videos come straight to you whenever I decide to send them.

Sure this is a great feature of RSS, but it's more reduntant than it is revolutionary. There's not one feature I just described that isn't also a feature of subscription emails.

Where RSS really is revolutionary is in cross platform syndication. It will change how we create, consume and recycle content. It already is.
What hyperlinking did for text in web 1.0, RSS does for content in web 2.0.
Of course... embedding and linking literally does for content what hyperlinking does for text, but that's not what I'm talking about. Hyperlinking changed the way we interact with text online and made it a fundamentally different experience than reading the printed word.

THAT's what RSS does for content. It frees your content from homepage arrest and allows it to truly exist "out there" where people actually go on the web without making you give up the branding and context that comes with quantity and consistency.

When you think about the potential of RSS, you've got to think about the middle man... the aggregator. You've got to think about the You Tube channel and the flickr photostream.

Like I said in my last post, the future of the media network is going to look more like doubleclick than like Lime. RSS is going to help those networks distribute their content dynamically, where you want to consume it. And RSS is going to help you as the user snatch a content stream you like (say you stumble across "The Office" and you love it) so you can keep consuming it on-demand.

RSS will make your website irrelevant. Maybe.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

A few days late, but...

man, was it ever sweet!

Yes, You Tube Can Be A Star

Bloggers Blog: Carson Daly Dips Into YouTube Talent Pool: "Variety reports that Carson Daly has dipped into the YouTube talent pool. Daly has signed Brooke 'Brookers' Brodack to a development deal making Brodack what Variety calls the first 'crossover viral video star.'"

A good discussion on A VC

This is wordy and too long, so I decided to skip the pictures. Okay, here's just one, for your fix.

Fred over at A VC started a good discussion about the future of media. I posted a lengthy response, and figured I should throw it up here as well.

Here's most of Fred's original post

A VC: Disaggregated Media: "Disaggregated Media

Traditional media is about vertical integration, from the creation of the content, to the display of it, to the distribution of it.

There have been some important moves to disaggregate and organize around a horizontal model in recent years. Cable is a good example of that. The production of the content is divorced from the distribution of it in the cable model. CNN produces a 24 hour news channel but Comcast gets it to your home.

The Internet is forcing the entire media business into a disaggregated horizontal model where the creation of the content will happen in one place, the editorial function will happen in another, the production will happen somewhere else, and the distribution will happen in yet another manner.

But these horizontal layers are not going to look like slices of the vertically oriented media company of the past. You won't see a layer of content producer companies selling content to a layer of editorial companies selling content to a layer of distribution companies.

These layers are going to be dominated by lighweight web services (think google or craigslist) that will empower the users themselves to do this work. People talk about user generated content as if there is another kind. There isn't. I love the story about the animated video created for Firefox Flix that prompted the people at Firefox to say "that was done by a professional". Maybe so, but he is still a user and a fan, and as professional as it seems, it is user generated content. Same is true with Om Malik. Is he a traditional journalist or a blogger? Does it matter?

Editors are quickly being replaced by services like Digg or the new Netscape where people decide what goes up on the front page and what does not. And we are in the top half of the first inning when it comes to a people powered editorial function. This is where I see a lot of action happening in the coming years.

And distribution? Well for one, its all going via IP; wire line, powerline, coax, wifi, wimax, 3g, and who knows what other forms of IP. But people powered distribution is the big story here too. Whether its emailing links, embedding videos onto social network pages and blogs, or superdistribution of music and video where everyone participates in the value chain, we are seeing the end users participate actively in the distribution of media.

So when I get a business plan that suggests that all of this can be packaged into a single company, a new media company for the digital age, I cringe. Media will not be delivered from creation to consumption by a single entity in the digital age. Anyone who tries will fail. I am sure of it.

Here was my response (actually to his second post on the subject):

I agree that disagreggation is happening and will continue to happen, though your cable example of cnn can be broken down one step further: Independent content production companies produce shows for networks like, say, Discovery Health. Discovery then pays the Time Warner for space on the network.

A point I think you missed in your posts, though - The commodity that disappears as media moves online and on demand is time and space. The real estate that Time Warner sells to Discovery is no longer valuable because a) they no longer have exclusive or near exclusive access to that geographical region, b) search means that much, much more content that can fit in one space (or within one media network), and c) the relationship between airtime and ad dollars that used to be the main source of revenue for the middleman (cnn in your example or discovery in mine) becomes much less important.

What replaces these elements on the web and on demand is traffic. Traffic drives all revenue, and without restrictions in time and space, traffic becomes much more difficult to come by.

That's why my prediction is that content will shift from a "broadband channel" model, where you go to a specific spot on the web to see the content you want, to more contextual syndicated distribution - just like the advertising models you describe in part two of this post.

Google is already now incorporating video ads into it's adsense program. Forget the ad part, to me that just seems like a perfect vehicle for distributing high quality content in places where the traffic already exists.

Whether the monetization of this model would be the reverse of adsense (websites paying for high quality entertainment content in the same kind of a bidding system) or would be more of a shared model (content producers pay for the space on the sites just like adsense, and then sell embedded advertising) I don't know.

But either way, the end result of this model would be media networks that work like ad networks - where you would sign up for the X network and pay for the high quality X content you know and trust to be syndicated on your site contextually.

Great jumping off point for a discussion - I also take issue with your assertions about user generated content... there is a reason that shows like 24 cost 2 million an episode to produce, and a reason we will continue to consume that kind of content at a much more meaningful level than the firefox ad, no matter how clever and professionally produced it is. But this is already too long, and I'll save that for another time.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

My Want Ad

New Media Company Seeking Client

-Must have a problem for me to solve, not a solution for me to implement.

-Must see failure as a means, not an end.

-Must invest meaningfully in understanding feedback and results.

-Must listen. I mean it. Really. And think about it too.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Two Long Weeks

This is a photo taken by a nice quaker fellow who caught me doing man-on-the-street interviews for in Union Square. I'm concentrating really hard, or I'm tired, or confused, or pissed off, or just squinting because it's bright. Not sure - I've been all those things in the past few days!

OK, I've been two weeks without a posting. Too long. We've been absolutely slammed over at BrightRED since the beginning of the month, which is great, but hasn't left me much time for ruminating over the state of new media.

Although we haven't slowed down any, I'm resolved to get back into the groove with this post and integrate blogging into my full boar production work-flow.

Here's the feed for the video podcasts we created for the new pbs series "Design | e2". The series is about sustainable architecture, and we created a 3-5 minute video podcast for each episode, to take the viewer beyond what they saw on tv and deeper into the world of sustainable design. Here's the itunes link, if you watch podcasts that way.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Enron Follow up

A little more detail supporting my Enron argument from a few days ago:

The NY Times has an interesting story today co-written by Kurt Eichenwald, the author of the great Enron book Conspiracy of Fools.

The article traces the difficult task of finding something to charge Ken Lay with over the course of the investigation.

The public widely perceived the criminal case against Mr. Lay to have been a "can't lose" proposition, similar to the parallel case assembled against Enron's former chief executive, Jeffrey K. Skilling. But the legal hurdles on the path to Mr. Lay's conviction were so daunting that some prosecutors privately worried that they would never even be able to charge Mr. Lay with any crimes.

I think a lot of people assumed that Lay's conviction and probable sentence of life in prison was a result of the jury finding some mastermind, puppeteer sort of role for him in the whole debacle. Nothing could be furthur from the truth.

"There was this public perception of Ken Lay as the mastermind, but that really didn't bear out," said Leslie R. Caldwell, who headed the task force in its first two years. "We realized very fully early on that Lay was not involved in the decision-making day to day.
What he was ultimately convicted of was telling everyone that Enron was back on track when he should have known it wasn't. The strongest testimony against him was from Ben Glisson - a guy who was actually involved in the illegal dealings and had made money from them.

I have trouble believing that a company could plunder California's energy system and feel good about itself - I have trouble believing that executives could hide all their debt quarter after quarter and steal from the company.

I don't however, have trouble believing that an out of touch CEO who felt his company crumbling around him could give some speeches saying that the worst is behind us, and we can get through this together, and be stronger for it... etc, etc, etc. I mean the guy was desperately trying to sell the company or merge the company or do anything to save the company up until the day they filed for bankruptcy.

He was also convicted of bank fraud - because he used loans from the company to buy more stock on the margin than he should have. That's a real crime, no doubt about it, but it's more of a technicality than a hideous abuse of power. It's not that he did something he shouldn't have, it's that he did more of something than he should have. And it didn't violate the law, it violated the terms of his loan.

Whether or not you believe that Ken Lay deserves to be punished for Enron's crimes, I don't see how either of the things he was actually convicted of should land someone in jail for 40 years.

Maybe he deserves to be punished because the company he created did so much damage. But our justice system shouldn't be about making decisions like that.

Justice without passion says this is a bullshit conviction.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Blog as Network

Chartreuse is one of my favorite bloggers.

He has a post today that's just great about building your blog network. Read it.

This gets at something that's been germinating in my mind for a few weeks. Ever since I saw this other post on Char's site.

Chartreuse is a character on his blog. He writes with force, he gives you insight into what he's up to. His opinions and writing style are consistent so that, as a reader, you feel like you know where he's coming from.

Loren (the guy in the video) is a frequent commenter on Chartreuse (Char has a bevy of frequent commenters - cult style, that's part of what he does well, like Jim Rome in the sports radio world). Loren is also in the new media business himself. He's popped up a few times before on the site, but here Chartreuse is introducing him as a character as well. As you can tell from the video, he's very good on camera. Here Loren pops up again as a character, and is even funnier.

I think a lot of people see "Blog Network" as a network of blogs. I don't think that's the way Chartreuse sees it, and that's not the way I see it. It's more of Blog AS network. A blog and its feeds - that's the wrapping paper that packages a creative voice in the new multimedia universe of web 2.0 into a form that people can consume. It's the best, most flexible and efficient way to do that right now. And it's cheap! So much cheaper than anything we've seen offline.

But I think network is off the mark as a description of this packaging.

What drives this medium is the voice and the community. It is a consistent set of characters, a unifying perspective through which we see those characters - basically a web world. NBC doesn't have that. You don't watch CSI because Les Moonves and the guys from CBS are a real hoot.

If you're going to equate this to something in the traditional media world, it's more like a series than a network.

And that's what's got me thinking in the last couple of weeks - that maybe what Char is trying to do relative to making himself into an entertainment brand can lead us to what I've been seeking since I entered the new media world - how to produce shows that work online, that people want to consume...

For me, that's the holy grail.

Finals bound

Yeah!!! The Heat are going to the NBA Finals for the first time in franchise history. Shaq showed up big time in game six and Wade showed a lot of heart scoring 14 with a bad case of the flu.

One series away...

Friday, June 02, 2006

Time flies and so do I

It's been almost a week since I posted "En-Wrong". What's wrong with me? I've been downright neglectful of this blog.

Very busy week. Jeff and I produced a live event shoot that will eventually become podcasted material.

Software manufacturer Autodesk held a Speaker's Forum to celebrate the launch of the PBS Series Design:E2.

BrightRED Pictures (our new media company) produced video podcasts for the series (excellent example of using web media as ancillary content to support media properties - I'll post some of them next week, once they launch), and the producers had us do the event as well.

We really took the idea of committing to shooting for the small screen to the next level - very close in, visually interesting shots. I'm looking forward to posting some screen shots up here next week. I was happy with the way it turned out. We also played with a steadycam, which was a ton of fun.

So between the event shoot and getting the video podcasts for the series mastered, the week just kind of flew by. The summer is letting us know it's here with some pretty miserable NYC days, and the local papers have been working themselves into a frenzy about Chertoff's politically stupid decision to slash terror funding in half for NYC.

But while we're on the subject of NY, my favorite local story of the week was State Comptroller sticking his foot in his mouth trying to compliment Sen. Charles Schumer. He told the graduating class of Queens College that Schumer would like to shoot President Bush between the eyes.

Ah, the political season has begun. Check out this NY1 clip on the story - love the last line: