Blog Home | Company | Facebook | LinkedIn (bio) | Email Me

Social Media Gestalt

A big fat blend of social media and (surprise!) real-world communications strategy.

Jun 14, 2010

Vote for Zack: video inspiration in three parts

Despite all the mediocre-to-scary stuff online, sometimes it's joy to see what people do with all-access media. This one is self-explanatory via three videos.

Background: Oprah is offering to produce a show that anyone can audition for via video submission. (Full details at Oprah's site.)

With more than 2.5 million votes, Zach Anner (make sure you watch the whole video) is currently top contender.

Humor and inspiration got Zack a ton of attention on major aggregation sites,, and It also received support from 4chan, whose members can be a little devious. However, I'd argue that Zack would have received enough backing without them. Then celebrity recording artist John Mayer backed him.

Here's Zack's response:

John Mayer posted a response to Zack's thank you, including an offer to write the show's theme song.

I'm sure we'll learn a whole lot more about Zach's as this plays out. Frankly, I hope he gets the show. Pretty much in agreement with what Mayer said in his video.

As often as we see contrived efforts to get attention online, this one's fun to spectate on.

Jun 8, 2010

Does the Internet make us stupid?

I've posted Clay Shirky videos previously, but his essay "Does the Internet Make You Smarter?" (Jun. 4, 2010 Wall St. Journal) made a particularly strong point.


Every increase in freedom to create or consume media, from paperback books to YouTube, alarms people accustomed to the restrictions of the old system, convincing them that the new media will make young people stupid. This fear dates back to at least the invention of movable type.

That always happens too. In the history of print, we got erotic novels 100 years before we got scientific journals, and complaints about distraction have been rampant; no less a beneficiary of the printing press than Martin Luther complained, "The multitude of books is a great evil. There is no measure of limit to this fever for writing." Edgar Allan Poe, writing during another surge in publishing, concluded, "The enormous multiplication of books in every branch of knowledge is one of the greatest evils of this age; since it presents one of the most serious obstacles to the acqquisition of correct information.

I link this blog to Clay's because I admire his ability to to see and explain real cultural trends within the context of the Internet's (and all related technology/platforms) effect on societies.

In the world of social media--where the media itself is incredibly self-referential and there are plenty of individuals proclaiming to know all the answers with any one technology as a panacea--being able to understand and articulate a larger picture makes you more valuable.

As Wired Magazine put it:

Shirky is one of the handful of people with justifiable claim to the digerati moniker. He's become a consistently prescient voice on networks, social software, and technology's effects on society.
More Shirky bio (and video) at TED.

Definitely worth a little of your time.

Jun 4, 2010

Musings: How to create an online arts community in your town

Truth is, it's about relationships, which need to be established/nurtured as much old-school (in person) as they are via technology.

Keep it all technologically simple to facilitate reader sharing. Blog within an established platform like WordPress or Blogger, with postings accessible via RSS feed and pictures/video sharable and embeddable outside of it. I am a fan of Creative Commons licensing. Leverage readers’ social circles (i.e. email, blogs, Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Flickr). Emphasize listening/responding to them. Become the growing portfolio/resource showing the breadth and inclusiveness of your community's arts circles.

Create regularly-appearing topics (i.e. visual arts Mon., music Wed., theater Fri.). Readers learn routines and tune in for their favorites. It keeps workload manageable. Layer special topics/features over this.

Have editors and reporters tweet as they work. Especially pictures: of an interview, behind-the-scenes (of the art); a piece/costume preview; or intriguing question/quote. Work hand-in-hand with other media. Leverage those relationships you already have; learn to develop the ones you need.

Help arts organizations participate directly, but not with a press kit or puffery. Give them a format and guidelines for submitting to a regular feature: 10 Pictures | 10 Questions. “Dear organizations/artists: Create for us a slide show that takes us behind the show/performance/work. Give your answers some real thought. No studio shots. Same questions for everyone. Answers must be 50 words or fewer.”

It’s art. Tell the story in images as much as in writing. Use video and audio when it tells the story. Nothing for technology’s sake. Avoid reviews (they’re everywhere). Ditch the “society” snapshot where the artist and benefactors hold glasses of wine during opening.

Instead, show the mess they caused: work jeans, dust, splattered paint, discards, and sweat. Tell the story leading to the work, including education, politics, and funding. Where do ideas come from? What is this show like during setup, chorography, costuming, and rehearsal? Why this (these) selection(s), artist(s)? What brought you to this medium, series, or set? What does the audience look like from the stage? How do differing generations or cultures react?

Make it a point to explore non-traditional arts, especially those challenging convention. Is graffiti art? What do officials or authorities naysay even as we appreciate it? What’s hot on skateboards, surfboards, custom cars? (Or Is that question outdated?) What wows at open-mic night? Is there breakout talent in quilting, weaving, welding, glass, or home-made musical instruments? Have you seen NYC's trash bag vent sculptures? More local, how about a respected UCSD professor of percussion?

Accomplish this via a network of sources and stringers inside the spectrum of creative circles. Tap into/include arts educators, especially those enlivening history, illuminating technique, or exploring new territory. Maintain a list of “must-sees” that do not appear on anyone else’s list.

Add events: attend, participate, and organize your own.

Rinse. Repeat.