Posts about smalltv

Guardian column: The YouTube campaign

My Guardian column was delayed a week because of breaking news but it’s in print now (nonregistration version here).

The revolution will not be televised. It will be YouTubed. The open TV of the people is already turning into a powerful instrument of politics – of communication, message, and image – in the next US presidential election. Witness: Democrats Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Joe Biden and John Edwards; Republican Sam Brownback; and more candidates just announced their runs for the White House not in network-news interviews, nor in big, public events, but instead in their own online videos.

The advantages are many: the candidates may pick their settings – Edwards in front of a house being rebuilt in New Orleans; Clinton in a room that reminds one of the Oval Office. They control their message without pesky reporters’ questions – Edwards brought in the video-bloggers from Rocketboom.com to chat with him; Brownback, a religious conservative, invoked God and prayer often enough for a sermon; Clinton was able to say she wants to get out of Iraq the right way without having to define that way. They are made instantly cybercool – I’m told by the Huffington Post that liberal hopeful, Representative Dennis Kucinich, is carrying around a tiny video camera so he can record messages in the halls of congress; and Democrat Christopher Dodd has links on his homepage to his MySpace, Facebook and Flickr sites, making him come off more like a college kid than a white-haired candidate. But most important, these politicians get to speak eye-to-eye with the voters.

Internet video is a medium of choice – you have to click to watch – and it is an intimate medium. That is how these candidates are trying to use it: to talk straight at voters, one at a time.

Clinton said she was launching a conversation as much as a campaign and wished she could visit all our living rooms, so she is using technology to do the next best thing, holding live video chats last week. Beats kissing babies.

Of course, this can also be the medium of your opposition. When former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney joined the race for the Republican nomination, conservative detractors dredged up video from a 1994 debate with Senator Ted Kennedy in which Romney espoused downright liberal stands on abortion and gay rights. They used YouTube as a powerful weapon. So Romney used YouTube to respond. He appeared on a podcast made by the powerful blog Instapundit and the campaign videotaped the exchange and put it up online, a story that was then picked up by major media.

But beware making a fool of yourself. This is also a medium ripe for ridicule. There is a hilarious viral video of John Edwards preparing for a TV appearance and primping like Paris Hilton, set to the tune of “I Feel Pretty”. Every campaign nervously awaits the embarrassing moment that will be captured and broadcast via some voter’s mobile phone; it was just such a moment that lost one senator his election and with it the Republican majority in 2006. Hours after Clinton YouTubed her video announcement, there were parody versions trying to remind us of the scandals of her husband’s administration. I, too, fired up my Mac and made a mashup comparing and contrasting Clinton’s and Brownback’s videos, counting her issues and his references to culture (read: religion), life (read: abortion), and family (read: gay marriage).

And there lies the real power of the YouTube election: candidates won’t be the only ones making use of this revolutionary new medium. Citizens will too. The Pew Internet & American Life Project has just released a survey revealing that much of the electorate is not just watching but is using the internet to influence politics: in the 2006 US election, 60 million Americans – almost half of internet users – were online gathering information and exchanging views, Pew said.

More than a third of voters under the age of 36 say the internet is their main source of political news – twice the score for newspapers.

More significantly, about 14 million Americans use the “read-write web,” in Pew’s words, to “contribute to political discussion and activity”, posting their opinions online, forwarding or posting others’ commentary, even creating and forwarding audio and video. They aren’t just consuming information, they are taking political action. And now that almost half of America is wired with broadband, they increasingly consider watching internet video to be watching TV. So the influence of YouTube will only grow.

We should only wish that this will diminish the negative influence of old TV with its battle and sports narratives of frontrunners and underdogs, with its simplistic soundbites (though there’ll be plenty of that on YouTube, too), and its nasty campaign commercials (though YouTube will have its dirt as well). But, hey, revolutions take time. And we are watching the seeds of one sprout right before our very eyes.

Me OD

Andy Plesser of Beet.TV was all around Always On this week and he got various of us to do his interviews for him. So how can I not link? Here’s my chat with David Weinberger about his soon-to-be-released book, Everything’s Miscellaneous. Here’s Andy with me. And soon there’s be one more chat with Mark Whitaker, former editor of Newsweek and now head of future development for Washington Post Newsweek. I admitted to Andy that I didn’t get his vision when he started pestering people at conferences for interviews. But I now think it’s a most clever way to hear what people at these events have to say and he often makes news on his small TV. I’m a believer.

OurTube

Comcast says that 4 percent of its bandwidth goes to YouTube and they say that’s great news.

See also NewTeeVee’s compilation of audience for the new television:
* YouTube: 41.1 percent market share, 86.8 million sessions, 29.7 million unique visitors
* MySpace: 19.3 percent share, 40.9 million sessions, 17.6 million visitors
* Google: 10.2 percent share, 21.6 million sessions, 12.1 million visitors
And so on.

Though it’s comparing apples and kumquats (networks v. shows), note the latest big-TV ratings: 33.9 million for American Idol. But consider also that TV penetration is roughly double broadband penetration, still.

Viacom cuts off nose to spite face

Viacom just demanded the YouTube take down clips from its networks, including Comedy Central and MTV. Wave bye-bye to Jon Stewart and Jon Stewart should wave bye-bye to audience.

Just last night, my son showed me Bill Gates on The Daily Show via YouTube. My son, a teenager and the future audience for the network, had never watched Jon Stewart. It was through YouTube that he discovered and enjoyed the man. But Viacom just cut off that means of free — free! — promotion and distribution. Instead, the company is going to have to advertise heavily in hopes of reaching my hard-to-reach son — he’s busy watching YouTube, you see, instead of MTV and instead of television, for that matter — to build audience in the future. Of course, this is a negotiating tactic. But it is also bad business. It pisses off your own audience, who is recommending your shows. It cuts off that free promotion. It increases marketing costts.

Damned fools.

Pray per post

Last night, I moderated a panel on buzz and marketing at the Always On conference in New York and I started it off by slamming Pay Per Post, the infamous service that pays bloggers to write positive posts about products, and a presentation by the company’s president, Ted Murphy.

Murphy showed a video a mom created for Pay Per Post, showing her little kids smashing a camera with a hammer because it wasn’t an HP. I was appalled (so was David Weinberger). So they have created something that entices mothers to exploit their own children as cheap shills. For shame.

The discussion went on with the panelists — including an advertising and a PR exec — agreeing that you can’t buy buzz.

At the end, who should stick up his hand but Murphy. He said that Pay Per Post is transparent about its posts being bought; I said that this was damned recent and only after much pressure. He also said that he saw no difference in Amanda Congdon making commercials on her old or new vlog and a Pay Per Post person making a commercial on her blog. Fair point. But one of the panelists said that Rocketboom is clearly a show and a commercial makes sense in that context; the relationship is clearer. David Weinberger said that marketers and the public have been at war for a century and the internet and blogs were to be his refuge from that: a place to have conversations with friends. I asked whether Weinberger, who takes no ads, hates me for doing so. He said, no, because the relationship is, again, clear: It’s about someone buying space on my page, not about buying my endorsement. He called Pay Per Post “corrosive” to the conversation. Pressed again on the demarcation, I brought up the rules I was taught as a journalist (emphasizing strongly that I was not trying to call all blog talk journalism or to hold it all to the same structure and rules): Simply put, the rule is that no one can buy my voice and with it my credibility.

The conference was a bit disorganized and our panel, the last of the day, got on late after confusion on the schedule about the session. They tried to cut us off on time but the room and I revolted and we kept going; the discussion was rousing and fun.

After it was all over, I saw a camera guy — with good HDTV rig and steadicam, even — who had been shooting the session. I thought he was Always On’s guy. But at the elevator bank, the camera was still following Murphy. ‘What, you have a reality show?’ I joked. No joke. They do. They call it Rock Startup and try to make themselves into rock stars (Murphy is “The Murphman“) and even say they’re trying to sell it to a network — though, of course, it’s really just a commercial. Here’s an episode about their brashly painted, branded monster truck and how they’re going to promote by taking a couple of “smokin’ ” promo “girls” to bars. The hubris of this organization is astounding.

I asked Murphy whether he had seen Startup, the movie about the hubristic and failed startup GovWorks. No, he’d never heard of it. I suggested that he get the DVD. When I met with GovWorks in the bubble, I refused to allow them to tape it. Well, now perhaps I’ll end up in the sequel.

Guardian column: The YouTube campaign

My Media Guardian column this week is about the YouTube campaign: the Presidential candidates (and their foes) using YouTube to fight for the White House. (Registration-free version here.) When I met YouTube founder Chad Hurley at Davos, I thanked him for changing the world — for putting the final piece into place to allow everyone to have a voice, bottom-up. I didn’t anticipate how quickly the powerful would also recognize the power of this medium, as they try to stop talking to-down and instead talk — and listen — eye-to-eye. I wrote about this on Buzzmachine about a week ago but because I’m cross-posting this on the Davos Conversation blog, I’m including the column here:

The revolution will not be televised. It will be YouTubed. The open TV of the people is already turning into a powerful instrument of politics – of communication, message, and image – in the next US presidential election. Witness: Democrats Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards; Republican Sam Brownback; and more candidates just announced their runs for the White House not in network-news interviews, nor in big, public events, but instead in their own online videos.

The advantages are many: the candidates may pick their settings – Edwards in front of a house being rebuilt in New Orleans; Clinton in a room that reminds one of the Oval Office. They control their message without pesky reporters’ questions – Edwards brought in the video-bloggers from Rocketboom.com to chat with him; Brownback, a religious conservative, invoked God and prayer often enough for a sermon; Clinton was able to say she wants to get out of Iraq the right way without having to define that way. They are made instantly cybercool – I’m told by the Huffington Post that liberal hopeful Rep. Dennis Kucinich is carrying around a tiny video camera so he can record messages in the halls of congress; and Democrat Christopher Dodd has links on his homepage to his MySpace, Facebook and Flickr sites, making him come off more like a college kid than a white-haired candidate. But most important, these politicians get to speak eye-to-eye with the voters.

Internet video is a medium of choice – you have to click to watch – and it is an intimate medium. That is how these candidates are trying to use it: to talk straight at voters, one at a time.

Clinton said she was launching a conversation as much as a campaign and wished she could visit all our living rooms, so she is using technology to do the next best thing, holding live video chats last week. Beats kissing babies.

Of course, this can also be the medium of your opposition. When former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney joined the race for the Republican nomination, conservative detractors dredged up video from a debate with Senator Ted Kennedy in which Romney espoused downright liberal stands on abortion and gay rights. They used YouTube as a powerful weapon. So Romney used YouTube to respond. He appeared on a podcast made by the powerful blog Instapundit and the campaign videotaped the exchange and put it up online, a story that was then picked up by major media.

But beware making a fool of yourself. This is also a medium ripe for ridicule. There is a hilarious viral video of John Edwards preparing for a TV appearance and primping like Paris Hilton, set to the tune of “I Feel Pretty”. Every campaign nervously awaits the embarrassing moment that will be captured and broadcast via some voter’s mobile phone; it was just such a moment that lost one senator his election and with it the Republican majority in 2006. Hours after Clinton YouTubed her video announcement, there were parody versions trying to remind us of the scandals of her husband’s administration. I, too, fired up my Mac and made a mashup comparing and contrasting Clinton’s and Brownback’s videos, counting her issues and his references to culture (read: religion), life (read: abortion), and family (read: gay marriage).

And there lies the real power of the YouTube election: candidates won’t be the only ones making use of this revolutionary new medium. Citizens will too. The Pew Internet & American Life Project has just released a survey revealing that much of the electorate is not just watching but is using the internet to influence politics: in the 2006 US election, 60 million Americans – almost half of internet users – were online gathering information and exchanging views, Pew said.

More than a third of voters under the age of 36 say the internet is their main source of political news – twice the score for newspapers.

More significantly, about 14 million Americans use the “read-write web,” in Pew’s words, to “contribute to political discussion and activity”, posting their opinions online, forwarding or posting others’ commentary, even creating and forwarding audio and video. They aren’t just consuming information, they are taking political action. And now that almost half of America is wired with broadband, they increasingly consider watching internet video to be watching TV. So the influence of YouTube will only grow.

We should only wish that this will diminish the negative influence of old TV with its battle and sports narratives of frontrunners and underdogs, with its simplistic soundbites (though there’ll be plenty of that on YouTube, too), and its nasty campaign commercials (though YouTube will have its dirt as well). But, hey, revolutions take time. And we are watching the seeds of one sprout right before our very eyes.

Davos07: Boys on the bus

On the ride up to Davos, as I mentioned the other day, Loic LeMeur dragged me up to the front of the bus and we vlogged each other. Here’s his video. I guarantee you’ll be sick of me, if you’re not already. I spoke with Loic about video and the French elections; I’ll put that up when I get back home.

Davos07: Chad Hurley on YouTube… on YouTube

Here’s Chad Hurley, founder of YouTube, in a session on — cough — user-generated content (see my post below) at the World Economic Forum in Davos. He talks about what YouTube is doing on copyright, installing the means to find violations and to help holders earn money (I think of this as ringtones gone mad… the fees to license just wedding-video music would be huge). He also says that he does intend to share money with video producers; he says he did not do that at first because he wanted to build a community of people who wanted to be there to be there and who would not just leave to the next best offer.