Thursday, 7 August 2008

Invites and early adoption

It's nice to be wanted and it seems that I'm wanted as a vlogger! I'm typing this listening to a video called 'The History of Vloggerheads'. The bald, bespectacled gentleman telling the story is, of course, Renetto. Yes, Renetto - the once self-proclaimed 'King of YouTube'! But I'm not on YouTube (well, I am on a seperate tab, but that's not the point).

Renetto invited me and now I'm vlogger #60 on Vloggerheads. That's all I'll say about it right now, partly because I only logged in for the first time tonight and I've yet to have anything significant to report. The other reason being I may well have said too much already!

So watch this space. It's exciting to be part of something I've been waiting for...well, I guess I've been waiting ever since Renetto started intimating that if YouTube wasn't going to change to prioritise vlogging then something else would need to happen. This may be it. But I don't think I'll be leaving YouTube any time soon!

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Adsense - makes sense?

Isn't monetizing the holy grail of online activity? Maybe not to those addicted to online gaming, but large numbers of the blogging and vlogging community would auction their mothers if they thought it'd make them a quick buck. Since we're becoming increasingly resigned to the fact Hollywood won't come calling just because we post an online video we must take what encouragement we can for our 'art'!

To our rescue rides Adsense - at least that's how Google sells it. You can run Adsense ads on your blogs (although I'm not drawing you're attention to them!) and they are the basis of the YouTube Partner Programme.

Listen to 'senior' YouTubers play down their earning power and you'd think that mere mortals would be lucky to make a dime. I certainly didn't expect Google to contact me about my Adsense account. But they have. Naturally I'm going to discrete about the details - Google prefers it that way. I am, however, pleasantly surprised. Never again will I begrudge the few seconds it takes to monetize a videos on YouTube!

Monday, 14 July 2008

Know Thine Audience!

We're back on the 'when is free music not free music' thing again. Don't you hate it when someone promises you a gift, you get excited, then realise they have an angle? It goes sour. Push it too far and you can lose friends over it. Tonight I'm losing a 'friend'!

These days it seems the only people who want to add me on MySpace are pornstars - and I decline! So when I got an invite from an artist that had a properly contextual (these things are never truely personal) meassage attached I was interested, especially with the added carrot of free music.

I shouldn't have wasted my time downloading the 17 free tracks on offer. They all came with a spoken intro: hello this is blah, blah, blah, this song is called blah, blah, blah, brought to your by blah! I deleted all the tracks and in the interests of expressing my feelings on this issue I'm off to lose a 'friend'.

If he really was my friend he'd know that while I love free music I love it with no strings attached. Marc Andre gave away an album on the only condition that you tell people they could download it. I've mentioned it before but that is the way to do it. That's really making friends!

Monday, 7 July 2008

A little late on this one...

By now you've doubtless heard that due to a ruling in a US court YouTube must hand over an astonishing amount of data about every video ever viewed on its site to Viacom. I seen people say this is wrong for many reasons but the more I think about it the one that is most insidious is the ruling is retroactive.

Perhaps we were gullible and naive to ever treat anywhere on the web as a lawless new frontier. But people have - if we're honest I'm sure we all have to some degree. And I think web-development has benefited from that. Viacom argue they haven't - and, rightly or wrongly, a judge agrees with them.

However, I can't help feeling there's an aspect of this ruling that's like erecting fences and 'We Hang Trespassers' signs after a caravan of honest prospectors have trundled across an unmarked boundary, only to find themselves the centre of a Salem-style witch-hunt. They say 'innovate or die' but perhaps if you don't fancy either of those options you just need to a bigger gun and go hunting!

Monday, 23 June 2008

Optimising...but not cheating!

I'm taking a chance typing this because nothing is constant on YouTube. However, at the time of posting this worked. Watch the video below - I think it's amazing! When it gets to the end you should notice the first related video it recommends to you comes from the familiar face of talk74.

How did I achieve that? In part it was the usual dose of being in the right place and the right time, but mixed with a little thought it seems to have paid off handsomely. My response to 'Where The Hell Is Matt (2008)' is, or rather will be for a brief period around the 22nd - 3rd June 2008, the #1 Travel and Events video on YouTube, on the global list and in about every territory YouTube runs separate charts for!

I was fortunate is see 'Where The Hell Is Matt (2008)' within 12 hours of in being uploaded, and to have the time to make a response immediately. (Matt, the channel owner, was only accepting 'on topic' responses - which probably helped my cause!) My part was to title and tag my video identically to his. As my video is not just a response but an endorsement of his, asking viewers to name how many of the places he shows that they have visited, I don't see this as a cheat. It's about relevance. I'm telling the YouTube machine my video is extremely relevant to his. And YouTube seems to have listened to me!

Thursday, 19 June 2008

This one's for you unbelievers!

There are those out there who mock makers of online video. That's your call. There is a stupid side to it. An infantile fascination with the sound of your own voice. An outlet for the wanna-be filmstar. It's understandable. But watch this video and it becomes inexcusable.

Imagine how you'd feel if you were one of the content creators he talks about. I know how I feel. So are you a believer or an unbeliever?

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Partly political broadcast!

Ever since he launched WebCameron a couple of years back I've keep an interested eye on how Cameron and the Conservatives are using the media. I'm typing this while watching Cameron Direct live from Plymouth. This isn't the first of these events but it's the first I've looked at.

I could comment on how it's obvious that the Conservatives are pushing his strength as a speaker who doesn't need a script - unless these events are an extremely elaborate hoax! But I'm not a conspiracy theorist, nor yet a political commentator. So let me comment on what caught my eye.

Selfcast. I'd not seen that name before but I instantly knew what it was about. Here is a site that let you sign up and stream live with little more than a webcam. Imagine YouTube but for streaming video. There are live text comments flying in as he's talking, there's a form for emailing in questions. It also seems to archive previous streams.

I know this isn't the only site doing this but it has an instantly likable interface. I'm very tempted to try it out!

Sunday, 11 May 2008

A Tale of Two Albums!

I've ranted before that free music is often not worth the hassle. Today I got my hands on two albums in different circumstances.

A bit of late night surfing tipped me off that The Sunday Times were giving away a Moby compliation in today's edition. It was to advertise his upcoming album. This was obviously a more attractive proposition than the Prisonbreak DVD in the Daily Mail, which was piled up everywhere, while The Sunday Times was nowhere to be seen. (Heaven forbid I reveal my feelings on their comparative journalistic merits!) I had to visit three shops to find my copy.

But here's the funny thing. It's not free music because I paid £2 for a paper that'll be 95% unread. And I know I would have put that much effort in if I have been online searching for a download.

However I did score The Charlatans new album for free. I saw a Sky News story about the giveaway and a quick google found the Xfm site with a beautifully simple, no-stupid-registration-just-right-click-and-save-as downloadable album! It's playing now. Yes, it gets plus points for ease of access but I prefer the Moby!

Thursday, 8 May 2008

Renetto makes his move!

This is the video we've all been waiting for. Renetto has given a name to his big idea. In fact he's gone one better than that. Two big ideas and, therefore, two names. Paul Robinett has managed to cast himself a love-him-or-hate-him character but I'll say this in his defence. He has passion. Meet him in person and he is a charismatic leader, a motivator, an inspiration. Now he will no-longer be YouTube bashing - let's hope YouTube finds a suitable replacement thorn-in-the-flesh! Instead his attentions are turned to creating Web 3.0!

I write all this because, at 11 minutes long, his video is only for the dedicated. But here's the names you should be looking out for:


Renetto writes: "Imagine a city alive with conversation...Alive with connection...Vibrant with voices from anywhere and everywhere...Stories you never dreamt you'd hear...Friends you never knew you'd know......Coming soon..."


Renetto writes: "Never surf the web alone...The future of the web is Social Surfing or...What will soon be known as...Sorffing...Coming soon..."

Ever since Paul began agitating on YouTube I've pondered my response. Do I agree with him? Would I follow someone like him away from the home of online video? Watching today I think I might. Times change and YouTube has certainly changed. Social media is so much more joined up and will only become more so. Watch his video and you'll see it's not histrionics. He's not spitting out the dummy; he's saying let's grow up and take this to the next level. And I'm inclined to think he's onto something good!

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

When YouTube doesn't work...

This is not a post about the technical issues that occassionally beset the world's biggest video sharing site. I'm going to discuss why, given the vast quantity of daily traffic, it is still possible to upload videos to YouTube that get little or no views.

In the last two years I've uploaded literally hundreds of videos to YouTube. The most viewed has near-on a million views, the least viewed probably has five! This becomes an issue when you're uploading for a corporate channel, an issue that is compounded because in that instance you are usually just one cog in the wheel - and, inevitably, not the final decision maker.

Is it surprising that videos not made for YouTube often don't play well on YouTube? It shouldn't be. YouTube is a video hosting site, but it also blends mere technical functionality with social media capability and it's that aspect that drives the viral video successes.

What constitutes 'made for YouTube'? Here's a quick, non-exhaustive check list...

1: Be direct- speak to your viewer
2: Be conversational
3: Be brief - 5 minutes is ok, 3 minutes is better
4: Be topical - is anyone interested in what you're talking about?
5: Be tactical - be creative in how you tag, title and make responses

Monday, 5 May 2008

Unscientific research!

Want to know where people are hanging out online these days? Well the best way to find out is ask them!

Now, I did enough maths at school to know that it would be stupid to draw anything too conclusive from a bunch of random, un-controlled, responses but there are some trends. Have a look and consider the question: if I coud pick just three websites to convey my message to, what I want to be, a growing audience what would they be?

Friday, 2 May 2008

Oh the irony...

After yesterday's post is this hubris, a technical glitch or a simple misunderstanding?

I have not violated YouTube!

When you're a YouTube Partner you have the option to submit your videos for revenue sharing. The trade of is this: you may see some small financial return if your viewers avail themselves of the contextual advertising the mighty Google ad-engine provides, provided your content is squeaky clean.

This is a funny one because in many ways there is nothing wrong with YouTube demanding you only post videos that adhere to their terms of service. At the same time, scare stories surface all too frequently of users who have video removed which they maintain were 'clean' with no recourse. Partnership is both carrot and stick for good behaviour. By drawing the editor's attention to your work it you could be hastening its removal from the site.

YouTube likes its cloak of secrecy over all things Partner related but I'm sure I'm allowed to say have two channels covered by my Partnership agreement. One I use a lot, the other I post weekly updates about my weight and fitness activity on. A couple of nights back I decided it was time to submit these video to 'the Program'!

I'll confess it's scary braving the 'if your videos violate...' warning. You consider the prospect of your channel going dark, you check everything's properly backed-up, you hope! And about two days later you notice ads appearing next to your videos, pushing the nice banners you worked so hard on down the page. But at least you haven't violated YouTube!

(Want to know more? Zipster talks about the YouTube Partner beta. Yeah, he had a salary!)

Thursday, 1 May 2008

Global warming?

I'm sure I'm not alone in being inconsistant in my adoption of new technology. While I've thrown myself whole-heartedly at YouTube I've dragged my feet with Facebook. But everything is subject to change. In the aftermath of last night's Champion's League semi-final between Chelsea and Liverpool I had a 'wall-to-wall' converstaion with Tom (tlg847 of YouTube Community Council fame!). This sudden, spontaneous, piece of real-time global interaction changed something.

This morning 'Matt is gradually warming to Facebook!' I've never posted a Facebook status before; funny, because I regularly change mine on MSN. With the growing interest in Twitter, and rival services, I see 'status' as being a great way to counter the curse of 'out of sight - out of mind.' It was Tom's 'status' that prompted me to start the conversation. Perhaps mine will provoke responses for those who've heard my anti-Facebook rants. So in the interests of transparency I felt I should share my belated conversion experience!

Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Being a good GURU!

If you're sensitive to anything that may appear to be shameless self-promotion then now might be a good time to look away! Not that I think I'm blowing my own e-trumpet; this is more a case of self-as-an-illustration!

I YouTube. A lot. As a result I made the UK YouTube Partner programme when they opened it up for applications earlier this year. (For me the perk was not the slight chance I might make money from my videos but the fact I can upload banners to my YouTube profile!) I am also a Guru! YouTube let's you select a title that you think fits your content. (Mine doesn't really qualify me from Comedian or Musician, and Guru sounded more exciting than Director!)

For the last week I've been in the 'Most Viewed (Today) - Gurus' chart. It's a global top 100. Why? Well it's not that my videos are gaining thousands of views. They're hitting 50 - 100 in the first two or three days. It's because I've posted a video every day for at least the last seven days. I'm witnessing the triumph of quantity over quality!

So that's today's lesson. Sometimes making videos is better than making a good video. It does depend on your objectives but making the 'charts' is one way to gain profile and attract new audiences. And if that appeals to you I suggest you get uploading!

Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Let's hear it for encouragement!

I can't remember the exact words but they were enough to make me kick my apathy and post again. So my thanks to James. If you appreciate him spurring me back into action why not drop by and let him know. For James has succeeded where Stephen Fry failed!

I watched Fry's programme about the Gutenberg press on the BBC iPlayer (what a fantastic piece of technology - the iPlayer that is!). As I was sitting there I knew I should be blogging about it, especially when one of his interviewees drew the comparison between the advent of moveable type and the dawn of the internet age. I didn't. Perhaps because I was holding an MSN conversation about the programme with a friend who was simultaneously utilising the iPlayer. (You can co-ordinate tea breaks and everything!). The iPlayer's only obvious drawback is shows expire after 7 days. But to cover that eventuality God invented YouTube! TOS violations permitting, most good TV can be found on there. I checked and, sure enough, I'm able to present you with part 1 of 6 of that fascinating documentary. Just don't tell the BBC!

Friday, 14 March 2008

Me, Vloggers and Nalts' psychoanalysis!

What's our word for today? Engage. Don't just use new media, engage through new media. Shall I keep spelling it out? OK...don't just post videos on YouTube, engage with your audience (or the community) on YouTube.

Now there's more than one way to cook and egg and there's more than one way to engage. But for today we'll focus on that great little feature on YouTube - the comments.

One of the quickest ways to see if a video is really engaging is to see how many comments it generates. The quickest way to see whether the video owner wants to engage is to see if they acknowledge their viewers comments.

Now there are constraints of time; not every YouTuber can, or wants to, dedicate hours engaging online. But there's no excuse for those who never respond to comments left on their videos.

So here's an engaging little video, with plenty of comments on comments.

And here's me saying pretty much what I've said in this blog - just incase you weren't paying attention!

Thursday, 13 March 2008

Bebo SOLD - news just OUT!

Yeah, and good luck to it's new owners!

Perhaps you should hear my take on Bebo before continuing to read what will undoubtedly become a rant. I guess I'm just growing tired of seeing young people prostitute themselves with a digital camera. I'm all for posing but there is a difference between having a laugh and being provocative. Especially when I think half the profile images I see are from people who are either naive or wouldn't like the reality of living up to the image they portray.

But what about business. AOL gets Bebo for $850 million. It's a big player here in the UK - well among the kids it is. In my world Myspace is waning - and I mourn its passing - and Facebook is in the assendency. I have little love for Zukerberg's creation but it seems to be what my peers have chosen. And you can't socially network if you've got no one to connect with!

Perhaps the tweens and teens of Bebo have the purchasing power to propel profits, perhaps this is a good case of long-termism in an industry with increasing short product cycles. My observation, however, would be that the Bebo users are not here to buy, but rather to sell themselves. If Bebo are gonna generate those all-important click-thoughs they best be contacting the like of L'Oreal, Tigi or GHD for advertising!

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Nalts is NOT this stupid!

Another fine video from Kevin Nalts. After yesterday's comments of advertising I thought this on old marketing versus online marketing raises some important questions. It places its finger perfectly on some of the sticking points people have when adapting between the two.

I take my hat off to his ability to do this kind of thing. It's nice to see him without a hat for once too!

Monday, 10 March 2008

Food for thought...

Yesterday's lunch was a 'Fully Loaded' meal from KFC. Why? Because every bus shelter between here and my office has a poster with a picture of one on it. I explained this to my brother. 'Funny, isn't that what they call advertising?!' was his reply.

It is. Still I was shocked by its effectiveness. The more I read about online advertising the more I here that savvy consumers are making it harder for desperate companies to monetise content. One article claimed the only area where online advertising is reaping rewards is in car advertising. Funny that - I once bought a car as a result of a pop-up ad!

KFC's poster is not clever. It's just a picture of a meal I know tastes good. Perhaps that's why it worked. Would it have worked as a pop-up? Maybe, but then I hate pop-ups so it'd have to be a seriously good one to stop me closing it almost instantly. Somehow I don't think I'd have watched it.

Is this a case of a gentle reminder winning over incessant shouting?

Sunday, 9 March 2008

YouTube University...only on YouTube!

I've just seen this from fallofautumndistro...

Need I say more? Only that I probably charge less than he does!

Seriously, while this is brilliant parody it never ceases to amaze me how many people struggle to understand the intricacies of YouTube. No one knows it all - although Nalts seems to have it pretty figured out and Renetto will tell you all the problems that need fixing! But the thing I've noticed is, almost without exception, people on YouTube are prepared to talk. They'll discuss the site, give you tips and predictions for where online video is going. So if you're feeling in need of some education just ask!

Friday, 7 March 2008

Wagging the Long Tail!

Last summer I, somewhat belatedly, read The Long Tail. Fantastic read. In fact a must read if you have any interest or involvement in online retail or distribution. I'm sure Chris Anderson's heart would be warmed by my story today...

On YouTube, predictably, catching up with the latest from my subscriptions. It's a day off so I don't overlook the 16 minute offering from Paul 'Renetto' Robinett.

A couple of minutes into this he mentions he used to be in a band. I knew that. He tosses out the name. I didn't know that. So while Renetto rambles on I Google. And I open up Amazon. There were 8 copies of 'Beautiful', The Walter Eugenes second album, available on the market place. There are now 7! Even before Renetto has wrapped up his inspirational piece-to-camera I've made my purchase. I leave him a comment letting him know. Within minutes he's acknowledged it.

I love the way this stuff works - I just hope I love his music!

But, then again, what's to lose? My wife's a successful 'marketplace trader' herself!

Thursday, 6 March 2008

Saving Face[book]

I was on the train back from London tonight. I'd just witnessed Spurs depressing defeat in the UEFA Cup. However I'll spare you my thoughts on that. Instead I'll talk about something that caught my eye in the metro. Or, more precisely, someone. The ever be-sandled Mr Zuckerberg.

It seems that lucky young chap has climbed into Forbes Rich List - qualifying as Americas youngest billionaire. While he's still a long way off the top guns at $1.45bn he's just a few bucks off being able to afford YouTube. Imagine the scandel!

Bill Gates' plan to give away his fortune must be working because he's slipped a couple of places. With Zuckerberg on the up perhaps he'll also be able to replace Gates as the most reviled man in computers! Beacon was a great start and I'm sure it can't be too long until Facebook unveils public-relations-disaster-part-two.

You should never judge a book by its cover nor a man by his sandles but sometimes that's easier said than done!

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Feeder - free but frustrating!

I've ranted about giving away free music before. If you want a good example of how not to do it look no further than this recent attempt by UK rock band Feeder.

Now I own several Feeder albums, have seen them in concert several times and have their posters on my living room wall - I guess that qualifies me as a sort of fan. But this annoyed me. Perhaps I'm the only one, and maybe all the positive feedback on their blog confirms that, but here is a message I sent them last night.

this stupid free download doesn't want to work! if you'd really like me to hear your cool new music why not just put it as a download from myspace? oh, cos you won't harvest my details for FeederSpam! yeah, I get it - except I never did get to hear this track cos it won't extract properly.i think you get my point ;)

This morning I got this reply...

You are the first person to say there is a problem ... please can you try again ?If it doesn't work still, please can you describe the problem ?I should add, we never send out spam via our mailing list, it's always important news which we think our fans would like to know!

I did try again. I got it to work. It's playing as I type - but I stand by my request for simplicity.

Tuesday, 4 March 2008

No love for Bebo!

I hereby declare Bebo 'home of the shallow'!

Let me explain. All social networking sites have their quirks and idiosyncrasies. For every person desperate to write on a Facebook wall there's another who simply wants to leave a comment on MySpace. These both share the same function: communication. But what of the more banal, or arguably exploitive elements? Facebook has its gifts - a dollar for a clutch of pixels in a gaudy arrangement - but Bebo has 'love'.

In the realms of cyber communication what is less lovely than reducing 'show love' to a tiny red heart icon? Ok, so I know there is genuine abuse that happens online but this discussion is about how the majority engage. I'm seeing a generation grow up thinking they can bitch about each other in conversation but then get online and type 'ly' on the same person's profile and 'show love'. (They'll probably compliment the semi-pornographic photos too!)

There's nothing to be praised about people who rejoice in being vain or shallow. Perhaps the only consolation to those desperate to look cool amongst Bebo's scene kids and emos is that you can download free photo-editing software! But do you really want to be just another air-brushed androgyne flaunting your shallow existence to a leering world? I hope not!

So am I down on social networking? No. It's changed my life - but that's another story! My point is let's be careful where we look for love. Because I've got to say that so much of what I've seen on Bebo smacks way more of showing off than of showing love.

Monday, 3 March 2008

Is anyone even interested?!

"Is anyone even interested?"

That may not have been the exact words but that was the essence of it. I replied with a passionate defence of the opportunities new media brings but I was visibly losing the argument. Now I'm old enough to accept not being right, or not winning every debate, but surprised that my concession was to - apparently - the youngest person in the room!

I know that blogs and online video, podcasts and the finer points of social media are not everybody's cup of tea. They don't have to be. But there are far from inconsequential. In a world were our future is shaped as much by our corporate emotions as by any reliable facts and figures these elements of New Media can swiftly move from the sidelines to being key players in defining the path ahead. Old Media still has the upper hand in some areas - think the Northern Rock fiasco or the Mail's recent hyperventilating about plastic bags - but it was the internet that finally outed Harry's front line engagement in Afghanistan, thereby according him 'hero' status.

Perhaps it a personal choice, to embrace New Media or to ignore it. But, like burying one's head in the sand, the latter is not recommended!

Saturday, 1 March 2008

Stream it...

Much has been said already about Sarah Meyers' exclusive that, the now Google funded, YouTube will unveil its own live streaming functionality this year. As vague news goes this is up there with the best of them. A broad concept and ten months of 2008 in which to make good on a throw-away comment. Hardly a strategic announcement!

But, IF they do deliver will it work? What YouTube has going for it over any other streaming start-up is consistent, and high, levels of traffic. As live streaming is time specific you want to know there are going to be people around to watch what you're broadcasting. For this reason alone I see no reason my YouTube won't dominate this area of online video by the end of 2008.

Friday, 29 February 2008

New Media versus Old Media

I know which side I'm on. Sure, Old Media still has its place, somewhere. But so much media today is throw-away. When shelf-lives are barely longer than the time it takes to put in on the shelf and take it off again there's little point in committing hours to perfecting production values.

Sure, someone out there wants to make art and good on them. I like art - but I also like communication. Often timeliness is next to godliness when it comes to getting something out there.

And so I present two videos to illustrate my point. Neither is art. Both quick, throw-away bits of new media. The first shows the New Media/Old media argument being played out in my living room.

The second is a clip of my brother's reaction to the last minute of extra-time during last weekend's Carling Cup Final between Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea. It gained thousands of views mainly, I believe, because it was online within an hour of the final whistle. OK, so that and some careful titling and tagging!

I have not lost Hope!

It seems ridiculous that it is that 'spare' day that only occurs every four years and it is the first time I post here in 2008. I have been too slack and, yes, I am repentant!

There are several reasons for my return to typing - not least the growing success of my brother in this arena. There's nothing like a bit of sibling rivalry to encourage overdue action.

But last weekend I allowed him to share the platform with me as I delivered a session on Online Video to the assembled camera crews for the Hope News training organised by Vivid Broadcast. It was a laugh - or at least we had a laugh. However it was the realisation that what to us was elementary was online video revelation to our audience. At least that's what people were telling us. So it seems my work here is far from done.

I've never wanted to be just another voice shouting off the same song-sheet as a dozen other bloggers I shall once again turn my attentions to expounding 'The Gutenberg Effect'. And I guess as I'm away on Monday, speaking on New Media at CGI's Leadership Institute now is as good as a time as any to pick up this blog again. Ironically, people stopping good projects they've started is a pet hate of mine. See I told you I was repentant!