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The cultural barriers to capturing content

Today I attended the GigaOm Bunker Session titled "Is App TV Coming Next?"

If you know me, you know that I believe strongly in capturing content.   I believe that within 20 years, humanity will be capturing most, if not all, of its content.  To me, it's a shame that we produce content which then gets lost, only to be stored inside the heads of the people who where physically present.  If we're ever to make a leap in learning past what each individual can experience, we need to have a collective framework where people can learn quickly by sharing in experiences others have had.  In short, I believe it should be a basic human right to capture the content you've experienced, and share it with whomever you want.

To many people, that can be a very scary idea.  What if someone is having a private conversation with you, and you capture and share it with the world?  And although these are very real issues, to me, they are issues that can be solved.  The benefit so far exceeds the cost of figuring these issues out that it's a no-brainer (see our experiences with Stargate as an example).  In fact, there are opportunities for creative entrepreneurs to find ways of easing the world into the idea of capturing and sharing content in ways that people are culturally comfortable with and that maintain people's sense of privacy.

Today I had a typical experience that highlights how far we have to go before the capturing of content is accepted.  I was attending GigaOm's session on AppTV, and setting my Kodak Zi8 camera up, as I often do, to capture the session.  That's when Surj Patel of GigaOm came up and told me I couldn't record the session.  When I asked him why, he told me to "fuck off".  Pretty distressing attitude.

Today I attended the GigaOm Bunker Session titled "Is App TV Coming Next?" If you know me, you know that I believe strongly in capturing content.   I believe that within 20 years, humanity will be capturing most, if not all, of its content.  To me, it's a shame that we produce content which then gets lost, only to be stored inside the heads of the people who where physically present.  If we're ever to make a leap in learning past what each individual can experience, we need to have a collective framework where people can learn quickly by sharing in experiences others have had.  In short, I believe it should be a basic human right to capture the content you've experienced, and share it with whomever you want. To many people, that can be a very scary idea.  What if someone is having a private conversation with you, and you capture and share it with the world?  And although these are very real issues, to me, they are issues that can be solved.  The benefit so far exceeds the cost of figuring these issues out that it's a no-brainer (see our experiences with Stargate as an example).  In fact, there are opportunities for creative entrepreneurs to find ways of easing the world into the idea of capturing and sharing content in ways that people are culturally comfortable with and that maintain people's sense of privacy. Today I had a typical experience that highlights how far we have to go before the capturing of content is accepted.  I was attending GigaOm's session on AppTV, and setting my Kodak Zi8 camera up, as I often do, to capture the session.  That's when Surj Patel of GigaOm came up and told me I couldn't record the session.  When I asked him why, he told me to "fuck off".  Pretty distressing attitude. In fairness, he did come up to me to apologize later, but his attitude highlights how far we have to go before capturing content is culturally OK.  I do understand that it's GigaOm's business model to put content behind a pay wall, and that's fine.  I would argue that allowing audience members to capture some content would increase the subscriber base.  It exposes more people to the brand, and a professional, edited recording will always be better and more engaging than a blogger with his flip-style camera. I was disappointed by Surj's myopic view of the value of capturing content, and his aggressive response when I asked him why that was his policy.  And I post this blog not to embarrass him, but because I believe in the importance of allowing people to capturing content.  I'm sure some of you will disagree with me, and I welcome your comments below. As an aside, I've had similar things happen before, where groups were surprised I wanted to capture content (never so aggressively, though), and those groups have literally thanked me later and said "you were right, it provided a lot of value to us that you captured the content" after they saw the increase in interest in their brand from the video. Here's the video of Surj telling me to 'fuck off':

Guess What? You're a Marketer Now (an Arts Marketing Primer for the 21st Century)

On Stephen Shelley

A few years ago, I directed, acted in and produced an original work here in Brooklyn based on Seneca’s Medea. The first thing I did was post a casting call, then I hosted auditions, then rehearsed and performed the piece. Along the way, I also designed a simple, clean website, wrote copy to put into emails inviting others to come, setup a Facebook event page, formed local partnerships to help get the word out, designed the programs, coordinated a photo shoot (and then designed images to email people), created a logo and postcard.

Allow me then to rephrase my original comment then: I directed, acted in, produced and marketed my piece. I had no spare money to hire someone to do this for me, and - as I will discuss later - thank goodness I didn’t as “hiring” and “marketing” are no longer an ideal strategy. I had suddenly become lead designer, writer and communicator for the piece I had made. The internet now dominates our collective landscape of communication, and understanding the nuances of web marketing is essential for the contemporary creator of performance. The aim is to get the word out, exciting people about you and your work so much that they want to come see it in person.

The changing marketing landscape has dramatically altered institutional outreach programs as well. In fact, I propose that it is much harder to market from an institutional standpoint online than as an individual artist. Why? Well, it’s really very simple: what is valuable online is relationship, vulnerability and engaging content all conveyed through a voice that sounds familiar (ie - consistent and human). These factors allow for a connection to form. Finding this is vastly more difficult to do as an institution which likely explains why most are so, so, so very bad at it.

In this article, I would like to discuss what is working online and what isn’t. In particular, I would like to highlight the crucial areas where artists need to focus in order to attract more attention to their work. Oh, and while I am at it, allow me to dispel the “if you build it they will come” notion. It is no longer enough just to create great art. You must also know how to represent it online, and how to build media which is clear and - hopefully - sharable. The former approach worked in the 1960’s, but nowadays, people learn and explore newness via the web rather than venturing out into the unknown. In other words, I will look at your website and video content before I make the decision to buy a ticket.

The exciting thing for new, emerging artists and institutions is that the playing field has been leveled. You no longer need a massive marketing budget to reach people, you simply need a great idea. A young choreographer can create a 90 second video, share it with friends and suddenly have a great interest in his/her work. A producer can capture a particularly suggestive moment of a new piece using Vine, share it via Twitter, and have that seen by hundreds or even thousands of potential fans. Audience members can also now photograph or video portions of your work, share it online, becoming marketers themselves. One of the exciting ways that public performance and mobile technology merge is in how strangers can suddenly now become marketers.

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