Sunday, January 4, 2009

The fine line between false praise and encouragement

one. ugly. monkey.Image by berbercarpet via FlickrThere exists a fine line between false praise and encouragement.

Encouragement is necessary. It provides a positive support while someone is either exploring their creativity of improving their craft. No one is instantly good at anything, so we all naturally go through a development process in anything that we do.

But unlike encouragement, false praise halts development. It incorrectly leads people to believe that they are at the top of their game, and that no further improvements are necessary.

I see this happen all to often in the new media sphere. It's as if some special pass is given. Some bar has been lowered. A general understanding that is simply can't be as good as "traditional" media. And since it can't, then we should have our own devalued sense of quality.

To speak frankly for a moment: fuck that.

I don't think new media has anything to prove to anyone. I think there is plenty of room for huge variations in quality. And I fully understand that we're often examining qualitative aspects. And yes, there is plenty of low quality stuff on the radio, TV, movies, theaters and more. New media shouldn't strive to be traditional media.

In fact, we need to lose those labels for moment. Let's talk about media. And let's use the same scales.

Was the last podcast you were on "one of the finest you've ever been on", or was it simply good? Was that last free book you listened to "better than anything I can buy at the store", or just a good yarn? Was there nothing worthy of fixing? Did they nail it on all points? And are you being honest?

I hereby dub 2009 The Year of Honest Criticism. Wanna join me? Note that this doesn't mean I'll be trashing everything I dislike. I'm not that big of a new media douchebag. But will be giving honest feedback when it's asked for, and I'll moderate my own enthusiasm for things, relying less on superlatives and hyperbole. Reality. Whoa.

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Saturday, December 6, 2008

In praise of shortness

the shortness #2Image by noneck via FlickrThere's something to be said for a short show. My podcast listening enjoyment has increased 10 fold by:

All short. All concise. All worthy additions to your podcast playlist. What short shows (less than 10 minutes) do you recommend?

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Friday, November 14, 2008

Why wait for a conference?

Evo and The New Media InterchangeImage by sheiladeeisme via FlickrNew Media unshackles the notion of a broadcast schedule. Traditional media is waking up to this fact (hello, Hulu). Audiences have been there for a while (hello, TiVo). Conferences and conventions are getting into the act, albeit from their tech-savvy attendees (hello, uStream).

So what am I waiting for?

On the plane back from NAR2008, I sketched out an outline for 5 MORE Reasons Your Podcast SUCKS, and 5 Reasons You Suck on Twitter. My first two talks in this vein (Podcast & iTunes suckage) met with rave reviews when I presented them at Podcamp AZ. I just need a venue to give the talks.

But I already have one. I don't need to wait for a "live" event, attract 100 or so folks to show up at a specific time and place, and hope someone catches it on video. I can produce the talks as new media files and use the Four Corners of New Media (I'll define that in a future presentation/post) to give even more people a chance to see it.

(Of course, I'll not turn down a live speaking invitation. If you're looking for a dynamic speaker, give me a call!)

I am cognizant of diminishing value. You should be, too. That's why when I give a live talk, I try my best to make it interactive. Interactivity is difficult to do with new media. At least, it's not as seamless and efficient as it is when you are live with a crowd. And I think that's the key difference. Yes, you may contract with me to come speak at your event. Yes, there may be an archived media file of me speaking on that topic right on my website, if not all over the webbernets. And yes, you could project said media file up on the Jumbo-Tron rather than fly me in. But people could only shout questions at the screen... and I doubt they'd get a response.

Props to Podcasting News for posting the article that got me thinking about this. It looks like I have some work to do.

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Monday, August 25, 2008

Want the secret to social media success?

People want social media to be an easy fix. Companies look at social media as an immediate replacement for lots of other things they are doing, and they expect it to "just work" out of the box.

That's not the way the game is played, kids.

Take it from Scott Sigler, arguably one of the most popular and successful users of social media. He's used variations on a theme to break through several barriers and is still going strong. Is he making a full-time living on social media? No. Is he making a full-time living because of social media? Yes. Yes he his.

Want to copy his success? OK. But consider what it really means to "copy" him.

What I’ve found is that [working your tail off with social media] is not something that most authors [or anyone wanting to catch the social media wave] do. ... I reply to absolutely everything. Everything gets responded to; every instant message, every email, every tweet, everything. And that, combined with the social networking sites, makes such a strong connection with the readers. They really feel like someone actually took five minutes just to reply to them, and even if they only email once, it’s totally locking in fans for life.

Bingo. There's the secret. Like most, it's not complicated. It only takes commitment. Do you have it? If not, plan on falling short of the mark. Regardless of how well-planned your social media strategy may be, in the end you have to respond. To everything.

Excerpt taken from Podcasting News interview with Scott that seems to have happened some time ago, but only now has been published

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Taking value away from users to try to force a specific action is almost always going to be less desirable than providing people what they want.

Here's a little secret: statistically speaking, no one cares about what you have to offer, show or say. But rather than have me beat you over the head with that statement of fact, I'll let Loren Feldman tell you in this video.

In fact, the collective "they" care so little, "they" aren't even going to bother putting forth the effort to steal your content. Tim O'Reilly told us that in 2002. And while a goodly number of creative people finally took that message to heart in recent years, the vast majority of people are still spending to much time protecting what is rightfully theirs -- when (statistically) nobody cares.

Today this issue came to a head for me (again) in the guise of the full-text vs partial feed debate, so I sent over this classic comment as a stand-in for my arguments. Podcasters who bitch about feed-hijacking are singing the same tune. Funny how the issue of media-serving ownership doesn't seem to bother video producers. And people wonder why YouTube is more popular than any podcast directory. Go figure.

Here's the bottom line: If you are a creative person, you should be primarily concerned with people being able to consume your product. Worrying over how it is consumed or what might happen to it after it is consumed is a clear case of chicken-before-the-egg. Get it out there. Make it easy to find and enjoy. If not... well then you're as crazy as my cousin in Iowa with an irrational and all-consuming fear of sharks. Guess how often I take her call?

The title -- and inspiration -- for this post came from an article on Techdirt last year. Worth the read as it's applicable to much more than the issue of the proper contents of an RSS feed.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Trickle down or ripple effect?

I started my morning with the following tweet:

"Trying to tap into a network of influencers is pointless: it's very hard to know who really has influence and who's just got a big mouth."

That pearl of wisdom comes from Suw Charman in her blog post on Strange Attractor. Like Suw, I've always questioned the idea that if you reach some "key" people in any organization (blogs, podcasts, companies, schools, meetup-aholics) then it will trickle down to the unwashed masses below. That smacks of Reaganomics to me -- been there, done that.

Granted, there is a huge "follower" mentality and echo-chamber effect for some of those groups (you know the ones), but most people won't truly adopt something and incorporate it into their life unless it speaks to them and is useful -- to them. Not just because Brogan (and I loves me some Brogan) said it was cool. It actually has to BE cool and be something that I need to be cool to me.

But I like the ripple effect. It's how I learned about podcasting, Word Press, Twitter... you name it. Sure, I hear about lots of cool stuff from the Top Brass and I've been known to adopt early. But most people aren't watching as closely as I and a handful of others. Let's hear it for the ripple effect.

Props to Thomas for the link!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Getting to zero with a Bacn folder

One of the challenges of being a new media douchbag is that I (and probably you) get inundated with email. Friend requests, shouts, updates, Flicker notices, Netflix confirmations... it's out of control!

The name for all of this... stuff is now "bacn". Think of it as a form of spam, but spam that is residual, somewhat necessary and completely the result of you (read: ME) signing up for one (dozen) too many online services/cool things/time sinks. Rarely is any of it time sensitive. In fact, it's probably cluttering up your inbox and keeping you from getting to that elusive and fleeting ZERO.

So get rid of it. At least, get rid of it from showing in your inbox. Here's how.

If you use Gmail, follow these directions to the letter. If you use something else, figure out the spirit of what I'm saying and modify it to you own system's ability to "filter".

First, go to your overflowing inbox and identify your biggest source of bacn emails. Mine was Facebook, though Good Reads and Digg were coming in a close second. Click the email.

Next to the "Delete" button near the top, you'll see a pull down with the words "More Actions" displayed. Pull that down and choose "Filter messages like these". Gmail is smart enough to fill out some basic information that you may want to filter agains. Take a look to make sure it's got the correct info to recognize bacn versus legit email. You'll notice the list of "captured" mails based on your filter below.

Click Next Step to really get the magic working -- and to keep this crap from flooding your inbox. Select the following check boxes:

  • Skip the inbox (you're so going to like this)
  • Apply the label "bacn"
  • Yes, you'll have to create a new lable for this. You know how.

  • Also apply filter to ## conversations. (That'll make it work right now.)

    I don't recommend marking it read, as leaving it unread allows the Bacn folder to cause a count of unread messages to display, helping you figure out when to go back and check before it asplodes.

    Some people like to Star certain forms of Bacn, depending on the service. Your mileage may vary, but I'd leave it off.

    Now hit Create Filter and watch your inbox shrink. Rinse and repeat as necessary to get your box in a manageable form. And don't feel compelled to clean this box out daily. I get to it about once a month. Yes, that means I often have over 400 pieces of bacn in there. So what? By definition, this stuff isn't time sensitive.

    Give it a shot. Save you some time. And help with your sanity.