Monthly Archives: March 2008

The Brand Masters



The Brand Masters

Originally uploaded by wsh1266.

I was in the Orlando Airport, coming back from vacation, and this caught my eye- a molded mp3 player in the shape of Mickey’s head by the folks at iriver, known for the ultraportable flash players beloved by podcasters everywhere. You can see all the specs on this player at the iriver site at http://www.iriver.com/product/p_detail.asp?pidx=86.

I think this is brilliant marketing, but it also tells me something else:

-Disney has adopted mp3’s podcasting and new media in general in a big way. You can now get all sorts of consumer electronics , from mp3 players, flash drives and cameras, not to mention TV’s, phones and dvd players-branded with their recent hit of the moment- Hannah Montana, Pirates of the Carribean, or High School Musical.

– Disney is branding the whole concept of videopodcasting by integrating it into their shows on the Disney Channel- iCarly, and episodes of shows like Suite Life with Zack & Cody.

– If this Grand Dame of Fortune 500 companies is heavily investing into portable media, it is surely not the only one out there willing to do so.

It’s time for bloggers, podcasters, video producers and the like to stop feeling like they are cutting edge. Content from the internet is going to be even more mainstream- and it’s not just because Oprah had a “Best of YouTube” episode, but it is a harbinger that all of this new media stuff is no longer fringe.

This means we also have to take responsibility for getting the word out about our content, and keep in mind that with the Big Boys in the marketplace, quality will count over quantity. This means we’re back to Content is King, and that poor quality production values will likely have a harder time finding a bigger market than ever before.

What do you think? Is New Media now mainstream at last?

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apple fixes 5g problem for rentals!

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I am presenting at Podcasters Across Borders!

Mark Blevis and Bob Goyetche of the Canadian Podcast Buffet have put on a great conference, Podcasters Across Borders, affectionately known as PAB, now entering it’s third year. Unlike Podcamps, where the speakers list is open to anyone who wants to speak, you have to be selected to speak at PAB. I applied, wanting to talk about the importance of development of community, and my proposal was selected!

Here’s a bit about what I’m going to talk about:

Community- Why It’s the ONLY thing that matters

In Podcasting and social media, we talk a lot about community. Community can be a very fluid subject, as we all belong and identify with many different communities- the Podcasting Community, our Twitter friends, the people who listen to our show, developers, geeks, second life- you name it. Then there’s the offline communities around built around work, school, music, the arts, church, etc. that we equally align ourselves with.

Each community has its own written and unwritten rules of conduct, that help make up the canon that holds the group together. We’ve all witnessed times when the community values are breached or sprained- How do we handle those situations when they occur? How do we navigate friendships and trust relationships when someone breaks the rules or violates the collective trust? When someone tries to join a community, how do we make them feel at home? How do we moderate behavior and sensibilities? And how do we lead and steer communities over time as our interests and podcasts change? (Think how people feel abandoned when someone podfades and what happens to that community now that the leader and the space no longer exists.) When people have had “enough” of a community, how do you exit a community gracefully without destroying friendships or reputations? Can you “save” a community that has hit some uncertain times?

As we build cyber-communities that span great distances and are not always happening in real time, we’re starting to confront the social issues that face real life communities. When does a community get too big to be manageable? When do you start your own community? When is a new community seen as competition and get treated as such by others? How do we define and sub-define our groups?

These are questions that we all need to talk about together, and I’m so excited that we’ll get to discuss them at length at PAB. I’m not sure there are going to be any hard answers, but I look at this conversation as part of the “Solutions Playground”- it’s only by talking about it as a community that we’ll get any closer to understanding the difficulties we face, what to do when bad things happen, and how to avoid these “dangers” in the first place.

I hope you’ll be there-because as in all communities, it’s your participation that’s most important.

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Apple Movie Rental Problems- No 5g compatibility

We’re going on vacation tomorrow. Logically, I thought- Hey- I’ll rent a movie through itunes to watch on a plane. I went to the itunes store and rented Michael Clayton. Then I couldn’t get the thing to load onto my fifth generation video ipod.

I couldn’t find in support any reason it shouldn’t load onto the ipod. I called tech support. The first guy informed me that movie rentals aren’t compatible with the 5g ipods. I went back to the itunes store and NOWHERE is there any information readily visible or available before purchase that there might be compatibility issues. The first guy even said the movies wouldn’t work with the iphone, but we were then disconnected as I was in mid- complaint about the problem of no notice on the itunes store.

Being a lawyer and a pain in the butt, I called support again! This time, (after a modest hold time) the rep told me that the movie rentals would work with the iphone, (Good news) but agreed that the documentation on itunes wasn’t great and he would inform his supervisor about it.

So the movie rental will have to go on my husband’s iphone (synced with the PC) since I rented the movie on the PC (bigger hard drive that the macbookpro) and we’ll be good to go. From now on, I’ll have to do rentals for my iphone, synced with my mac book pro, on the Mac.

I am disappointed I can’t rent movies on my (or my child’s) video ipod, but I am more upset about the rotten documentation or warning about this prior to rental. I hope Apple fixes this soon, because it’s bad customer service- the kind I don’t expect from them.

So please, Apple, as an avid Mac Fan, as a stockholder, please fix this problem ASAP.

The second customer service rep was really great though- Disney-esque service and kind- and dealt with me being upset and frustrated very well. So thanks to Apple for making the calls, when necessary, as pleasant as possible, even when there is bad news to be delivered.

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Pros and Cons of the Back Channel- Crowdshare

There are tons of reports coming out of South by Southwest Interactive, including this one at Perfect Porridge, and this one, to name a few, mentioning audience revolt during the sessions, caused in part by the connectivity of the audience.   Friends who are there remark that the sessions have been, well, to be kind, not wonderful, but the hallways and the meeting of all the people has been terrific.  So this makes SXSW interactive the functional equivalent of Woodstock with the entertainment provided Perry Como and Bing Crosby.

At Podcamp, the rule is The Law of Two Feet- where if you aren’t getting something out of a session, leave and find something else that might suit you better.  Podcamps are free or low cost to attend, and the ethos is that you are in charge of your own experience.  You’d think this and the BarCamp folks would then apply this to SXSW, but they aren’t leaving the sessions and finding something else to do, or starting their own sessions- they are disrupting the ones going on.

Why?

Is it the investment of the ticket price and travel expenses?  Is it finding out that the Lords of Social Media are not as smart as the crowd- they are just people too, and have nothing all that interesting to add?  Is it a lack of anything “new” to make everyone excited?

People have invested a ton of time and energy into social media ventures.  It’s personal.  They go to big conferences like SXSW looking to up the game, looking for answers to the questions we all have- metrics, dollars, fundamentals to make things better- and people are finding out that the sessions, as billed, don’t give any answers, they just ruminate over them.  You are paying for the chance to eavesdrop on a conversation that could have taken place on a blog, but there are still no clear “answers”.  With the economy tightening, people are more desperate for the value add now more than ever.    And sometimes, the value add is meeting all the geeks you admire online.  It doesn’t seem to be with the sessions.  Is that the Organizer’s fault?  Or is it a crowd thing?  Can you change things on the fly? It seems it would have been worth a try.

I  know why people use Twitter, Meebo and other back channels during conferences- I used one at Podcasters Across Borders last year.  In that relatively small event, the back channel provided additional information, like subtitles,to the talks-for example,  links to websites that enhanced the content being presented.  But it also provided a way for people to devolve into snarky and disruptive behavior that was pretty rude to the people presenting.  I worry this is not really constructive, and can cause problems and hurt feelings in a close knit community.

As someone who helps organize podcamps, I want to see people so engaged in the material and the sessions they want to ask questions and participate.  And I think we’re getting to a point where people aren’t willing to accept not being able to participate.  That means shortening presentations, making them interactive, and getting rid of talking heads.  Making sure that mob rule doesn’t take hold entirely is important, just for safety concerns, but having a conversation is much more important than just preaching- and if you want to preach, you sure as heck better be entertaining and moving the presentation along, because the crowd patience is very low.

I think, as a group, we have to start having some amount of consideration for each other, before we blanketly denounce something as sucking.  If it does stink, you need to be able to say why and offer an alternative suggestion.  Take some responsibility and make it better.  It’s really easy to be a critic- it’s hard to be a creative problem solver.  But it’s the problem solvers that win in the end.   Making it better for you might make it better for others in turn.  Use your voice to make a change, not just to yell and demean.

I hate to see the community I love so much seemingly taking such joy in being rude and mean to others.  I wasn’t at SXSWi, and I don’t for a second think that Ms. Lacy was Terry Gross,  but you can critique without making it personal.  You can leave if a session stinks, and not make yourself a modern-day Don Rickles.  Everyone leaving en masse says more than doing the wave in the middle of a session, although they each have their points.

Lastly, since Twitter is picked up by Google, all the remarks are now on the internet forever, following everyone around.  So it means that we have to remember that it is all public, 24 x 7, just as if we were pop stars.  And I sure would love to see everyone develop a digital footprint for being kind and helpful, like George Clooney, more than a Brittney Spears approach to life.  Just remember that your reputation is your most valuable and your most fragile asset- and what you tweet is what you sow, and will determine, at some point, what kind of harvest you will reap as well.

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