Video on Flickr? Works for me

I’m sure there will be lots of chatter suggesting Flickr is way late to the video party. Of course, the reality is that those who live far out on the leading edge often lose sight of the fact that the vast majority of people still don’t even share photos via e-mail. The majority of people still don’t have digital cameras, much less some easy-to-download means of capturing video. And what Flickr is doing — starting out by allowing only 90 second videos — makes it clear that they’re not trying to be another YouTube — this is something different.

But, then, I confess. I love Flickr. I love just about everything about it. While there’s a “free” version, it’s one of the few online services I gladly pay an annual fee for a “Pro” version due to its incredible array of services and features. It’s one of the few services I use that I believe is just about perfect.

I shoot video and photography using the same camera (well, most of the time) and I upload them both to the same desktop software (iPhoto), so why wouldn’t I want to save and share them on the web using the same service? It just makes sense to me.

I’ll still use YouTube, just not the same way I’ll use Flickr.

Later: Some folks are already harping on the ’90 second’ limitation. While I think Flickr will probably expand this time limit later, the time-collar is actually an opportunity for thinking about video in a new way — in my opinion. One of the challenges with video is the editing process — it’s a new skill for most of us. However, sharing video doesn’t have to be limited to the linear narrative piece we’ve come to expect after years of watching TV. In reality, those linear pieces are typically a series of clips. What if, using a Flickr set, you can present those clips in a way in which the viewer can understand why they are being grouped together, but watch them in a new non-linear way? For example, people can already present non-linear video stories on a map, for example — posting small clips of video on maps using the MyMaps feature of Google Maps (example, how-to). Flickr’s new feature will enable this type of video story-telling as well. Here is a great insta-tutorial from Andrew Baron (of Rocketbook) about using Flickr sets to present a series of videos in a way that could be very helpful to viewers. (Andrew’s post via Twitter from Dave Winer)

I’ll be experimenting in the morning and will update this post with quick review then.

In the meantime, here is an embed of the video Flickr used to launch the service:



Warning: this post is laden with cynicism

I only watched the final 30 minutes of the “YouTube/CNN” debate, but what I did see leads me to agree with Jeff Jarvis who said, “CNN selected too many obvious, dutiful, silly questions.”

The producers — or did they outsource this to Andrew Keen? — seemed hellbent on displaying how inane YouTube users are. They didn’t just select the obvious and silly questions, there seemed to be an attempt on the part of the producers to choose video from questioners who were stereotypical to the point of trivializing their issue.

In probably the worst example, CNN selected YouTube user Jeredt Thompson from Michigan (or was that David Koresh from Waco) for the “gun-control” question. “Americans want to know if our babies are safe,” he said. He then holds up an AR=15, the non-military version of an M-16 and says, “And here’s my baby.”

Joe Biden responded — in what, if this were a debate in which one actually scored points, would have been the play of the game — that Jaredt would likely flunk the mental-illness back-ground check == and then Biden worried out-loud that he’d “come looking for me.” All of which the audience loved. And frankly, it was probably one of the better answers in the history of such cattle-call appearances that go by the false labeling, “debate.”

Okay, so CNN found someone to play Travis Bickle. Great theater. And a great chance for Biden to knock one out of the park. But what did it do for either side of the debate? Nothing. It merely reinforced gun-control advocates perception that gun-owners are crazed lunatics. And for gun-rights advocates, it merely reinforced their belief that the main-stream media is out to disparage them and confiscate their shotguns.

Next debate, Jay Leno needs to host it. He should get questions from the people who appear on his “Jaywalking” segment — the ones with the IQs of fescue grass. That way, there would be no doubt that the questions are being selected to display how dumb people-on-the-street are.

Apple has just announced a way to set up a closed-circuit video system for corporations, associations and other institutions

People hear “YouTube” and they think dorm-room lip-synching video. So while others may be reading the announcement that AppleTV and iPhones provide a means to stream video from YouTube are thinking water-skiing squirrel videos, I’m thinking of closed-channel distribution of video on the cheap (i.e., without having to pay phone carriers or having to invest in a closed-circuit distribution system). Sales meetings, CEO talks, corporate training — video content that companies now distribute via systems that can cost millions in creating and maintaining.

I’m having deja vu all over again.

When Apple started supporting RSS in iTunes (another way to say they started allowing anyone to subscribe to podcasts), I wrote about 10,000 words explaining why it would change everything. Most of those predictions came true.

Podcasting was an amazing gift to Apple. Before podcasting was supported by iTunes, one had to purchase everything that flowed through the iTunes store onto ones computer and iPod. After iTunes supported podcasting, “free content” flooded through the iTunes channel in the form of all the things I predicted: church sermons, university courses, crazy kids doing crazy things. As I said then, all that free stuff would make Apple lots of money because they make money from selling smart hardware devices and elegant software that operate them. (Dave Winer said it wonderfully yesterday: “The business of the valley is not publishing. It is not advertising. It is not retailing. It is not pet food. It is cool packages of technology that thrill people with empowerment and novelty.”) While tech analysts and tech insiders don’t always understand this, Apple does. They make stuff that thrills people with its simplicity and with the novelty that you can do something with it — you didn’t even know you wanted to do. And something Apple maybe didn’t think of when they came out with it, because they’re not a publishing and dog food company. They create cool tools creative people use to create other cool stuff.

I’m not going to do a “how the iPhone will change everything” series of posts. I don’t have to, because many of the ways are on that old “how podcasting on iTunes” will change everything series. It will change things because iPhone and AppleTV — like iPods after podcasting — are devices that will let you watch any video created by anyone, anywhere. Drop-dead simply. Without a computer. This is not a new cell-phone, people.

The iPhone will change lots of stuff in ways the pundits don’t get. My favorite clueless punditry so far has got to be this Advertising Age column by Al Ries. I must say, it takes a lot of courage to base ones prediction on why something will fail by suggesting that “convergence” products fail and “divergence” products succeed. If such an argument were correct, I wouldn’t be writing this post on the device that converges how I view video, make Skype calls, do video-conferencing with people on iChat, review graphic design files, pay bills, edit photography, edit video, etc. In other words, if Ries’ argument was correct, I’d have about a 20-30 divergent hardware products sitting on my desk for every task I do. Apple, more than any company, gets this.

I own one, but I think the AppleTV is little more than a gimmick product today. But once in a while, I’ll discover that I didn’t DVR an episode of the Office and I’ll purchase it via iTunes, then from my computer, I will use the AppleTV to watch it on my TV. The other day, I realized that AppleTV is a great way to look at movie Trailers — like an on-demand channel — that totally by-passses iTunes; that totally by-passes my comptuer; that works whether or not my computer is turned on. It grabs and streams the movie trailers from the Internet via wi-fi and my broadband connection. I know that others must have figured this out a long time ago, but that’s when the light went off for me that an AppleTV can be a cable box-like device for streaming any video from the Internet directly (as in, not through a compuer) to an HDTV — not merely a means to stream video you collect via iTunes on your computer. At that point, I realized this is a corporate communications device. Within days, I’m sure we’ll be learning how the streaming can also support real-time, live video as well as pre-recorded video posted on YouTube.

One consistent reason why the nay-sayers predict the iPhone will fail is that it won’t be supported by corporate IT departments, like Blackberries, etc. Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal summed up this school-of-naysaying in this article.

Today, with Apple’s video-distribution announcement, I can only imagine one big-co CEO demo’ing to another big-co CEO how he blasts out a video message to 1,000 executives each morning via their iPhones, computers and AppleTV. I think the whole “IT department won’t support it” argument will go away once CEOs discover they can be video stars.

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Have you seen the Hillary video?

This morning, someone asked me if I’d seen the Hillary video. It was sort of asked in the manner of, “of course, you’ve seen the Hillary video, haven’t you?” I confess. I must be living under a rock. It’s been on YouTube for a couple of weeks. Forget the politics, it’s one of the most incredible mashups I’ve ever seen: a hack of Apple’s famous 1984 ad. I can’t believe Apple hasn’t ordered it down, as it probably violates all sorts of copyright laws. However, the “parody” and “satire” and “fair use” protection issues may be providing some cover. I can say this: if the Clinton campaign seeks its removal, it will backfire, as it will appear in a thousand other places and the “big brother” message will be reinforced. Whoever did this produced an amazing piece of mashup art…and some impressive guerrilla campaign marketing.

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I pity those who seem forced to use the term “consumer/user-generated-content”

Let’s all feel sorry for those business-to-business writers and editors who cover the marketing beat for a “professional” marketing audience. See, they have to use terms like “user-generated content” or “consumer-generated content” or “amateur content” to make the distinction clear between video, audio or words that are created by “ordinary” people who are not necessarily guaranteed they will be paid for that self-expression and video, audio or words that are created by those who are paid to create it, whether it’s self-expressive or not.

For example, here is a link to a story on Adweek.com that has the headline “Southwest Picks Consumer-Created Spot” (how one “consumes” air travel beats me, but I have pity on the reporter, so I’m not going to repeat my rant about the term “consumer”). In the article, we learn that Southwest Airlines’ experiment to solicit advertising created by amateurs will be seen during an April telecast of the NBA playoffs. (And on Youtube right now, as embedded below.)

The winning consumer-amateur was Brian Cates, a member of Southwest’s Rapid Rewards frequent flyer program, who produces videos for a local comedy troupe in Oklahoma City. Wait! Have those folks ever been paid to perform? Has Cates ever been paid to produce a video? Let’s check with the NCAA of “amateur content” and see if we have a violation of the amateur-status of consumers to create user-generated content. Surely there must be a “professional content creators guild” who maintains such guidelines.

Obviously, this post is amateur humor generated by me, an excessive consumer of Southwest air travel. By the way, it’s a funny ad — see below. Sidenote: I’ve been on close to 120 Southwest flights during the past 12 months. None of them, as I recall, were the result of an embarassing moment from which I wanted to escape.

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