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(one man to another worried man, in bed) Hey, it happens, and it's nothing to worry about. But I don't think you can blame it on Zoom fatigue.

Video killed the…

Video killed the… published on

For those of us for whom working from home was already our daily reality, there’s a certain “Welcome to the party, pal” quality to hearing complaints about Zoom fatigue. Not to be all hipster about it, but we were finding video meetings exhausting before it was popular.

Part of the problem may be that we nearly always only see each others’ heads and shoulders, and we’ve become used to communicating with each other using our whole bodies. The way we hold ourselves, the gestures we make, that shift of weight from one foot to another: These all communicate volumes, and we’ve shut ourselves off from that.

In a widely-read Medium piece, Hanna Thomas Uose argues that the effect is actually “low-key traumatic”. Without those body-based signals we’ve learned to unconsciously rely on when we talk with someone, we’re never quite at ease, and never really feel safe. The fight-or-flight mechanism is constantly on deck, squirt pistol of adrenaline in hand, ready to go at a moment’s notice.

I found out about her article when I was doing research for an episode of my own podcast about why and when it may make sense to back away a little from the camera, especially if you’re not just a meeting participant but a presenter. Creative use of that space could lend a lot of expressiveness to your delivery — although, as I warn, “The bad news? You’re gonna need to start wearing pants again.”

By the way, everyone talks about Zoom fatigue, but nobody talks about Slack or Microsoft Teams fatigue. Look, I love me a good threaded conversation, and I think Slack is absolutely brilliant in its improvement over email. But between the proliferation of threads, channels, chats and more, I sometimes feel like I’ve traded one inbox for a dozen or more.

Check out my killer batch-invoicing combo move!

Check out my killer batch-invoicing combo move! published on

There’s a moment when you realize the torch has passed to another generation. It was the first time my kids introduced me to an online phenomenon I’d never heard of. For all I know, our mentor/student roles may be permanently reversed.

That phenomenon is the Let’s Play, a video where gamers screencast themselves playing through a video game. They’ll often narrate the game action and read captioned dialogue in character. My first taste of this was Stampy Cat’s Minecraft videos on YouTube; his is one of several YouTube channels that have amassed millions of followers and a pretty decent income.

And while Stampy Cat (alter-ego of one Joseph Garrett) may have the kind of distinctive voice and manner that wears on some parents after a while, listening to some of the other Let’s Play videos out there gives you a new appreciation for Garrett’s sweet sense of fun and playfulness.

The whole phenomenon still baffles some folks. I can see the appeal, but then again, I don’t get hockey fandom or Pokémon.

(developer with one eye stacked on top of the other) What's with all these people complaining that our app only offers portrait-mode video?

One explanation for portrait mode

One explanation for portrait mode published on 1 Comment on One explanation for portrait mode

The release of live-video-streaming apps Meerkat and Periscope has led a lot of people to ask why neither of them supports landscape-mode video (think rectangle-lying-down instead of rectangle-standing-up).

One of the apps’ developers has said it’s because people are used to holding their smartphones vertically, which I suppose makes sense. I still prefer my theory (Fig. 1, above).

By the way, I’ve learned a metric crap-tonne of stuff about web video from the great Steve Garfield. He’s kind of your advance scout in that world, reporting back from ten minutes into the future of video. If you’re at all interested in the field, he’s well worth following.

Updated: Just had a Twitter exchange with John Bowman that gave me a chance to encapsulate just how I feel about the portrait-versus-landscape thing:

9. Meowtrics and measurement: using your data to change the world

9. Meowtrics and measurement: using your data to change the world published on No Comments on 9. Meowtrics and measurement: using your data to change the world

Over the next several days, I’m posting cartoons I drew for Measuring the Networked Nonprofit: Using Data to Change the World, by Beth Kanter and Katie Delahaye Paine. I blogged about the book a while ago on Social Signal, explaining why I love it and why I think you should go buy a copy right now.

/\/\    __/
=ºi º= /

In Chapter 9, “Measurement and the Aha! Moment: Using Your Data to Tell Stories, Make Decisions and Change the World”, the rubber really hits the road. And because we’re changing the world, both the rubber and the road are made from reclaimed and recycled materials; the vehicle is electrically driven and charged from a wind-turbine-powered grid; and it’s actually not on the road at all because we’re taking modern commuter rail instead.

This is where you dive into the data and find actionable insights.

Roy Neary serves dinner

Side effects of reading this chapter include dramatic improvements in organizational effectiveness, and a compulsion to construct bar graphs out of Cheerios at the breakfast table – kind of like Roy Neary in Close Encounters of the Third Kind, only with data visualizations rather than perfectly-scaled replicas of Devil’s Tower.

And as with Roy Neary, your loved ones will still think you’re nuts, and your living room will end up filled with mud and the neighbours’ shrubs. (Actually, the mud may just be because I’ve misconfigured Google Analytics.)

In fact, one of the more exciting things you can find is a Devil’s Tower-shaped plateau in your metrics: not just a short-lived spike, but a significant, sustained increase in some measurable variable that matters to you. One such Devil’s Tower led Beth to start regularly posting Fun Geeky Friday Shares on her Facebook Page.

Also in this chapter, Katie makes a pretty compelling case that measurement is hawt.

(man on date) I'll have you know I'm plenty empathetic. I've seen every Khan Academy video on human emotion. Twice.

Emotional distance education

Emotional distance education published on No Comments on Emotional distance education

I, too, know a little about emotion… like the way I feel about the online revolution.

We’re at a really amazing point in human communication. While digital technologies are being used in some trivial and/or mercenary ways, they’re also connecting us in fascinating, unexpected ones.

There’s a lot of unexplored territory here. And very often, you’ll find that people you know are communicating in unfamiliar ways, sharing things that haven’t been shared before.

Sometimes those will be mistakes. Sometimes they’ll be amazing innovations that lead to new possibilities. And most of the time, they’ll be somewhere in between.

For all of us, the trick is to avoid confusing unfamiliarity with danger. We should certainly explore the ramifications of what we’re doing. But take a good long look before you dismiss that strange thing your friend is up to on Facebook, or your sister is doing on her blog, as creepy, stupid or wrong.

Apart from the risks of judging lest ye not be judged, there’s one simple fact: it might not be too long before you’re doing it, too.

Cartoon originally published on ReadWriteWeb


Snarktivism published on No Comments on Snarktivism

Originally posted to ReadWriteWeb

By now, you’re probably familiar with the #stopkony phenomenon. If not, here are some main points:

  • Joseph Kony is the leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army, which has done truly horrific things to people, particularly children, in Uganda and now in the Central African Republic, DR Congo and southern Sudan.
  • The charity Invisible Children launched its latest YouTube video — an emotionally wrenching (and arguably manipulative) 30-minute piece that argues for Kony to be captured and brought to justice. The production values and style of the video are aimed squarely at young viewers.
  • The video exploded online, reaching 70 million views in only four days. That’s driven in part by the hugely emotional content, and by its explicit call to action: “Unlike any home- or corporation-made viral video, it can and does explicitly ask viewers to share it, almost to the point of a guilt trip. And share it methodically.”
  • As the hashtags #kony2012 and #stopkony trended on Twitter – driven in part by celebrity involvement, a target of the campaign – criticism mounted.

That criticism and the response to it have become a passionate debate over philanthropy and advocacy – from whether “awareness-raising” is a useful goal or one that saps energy and attention from the harder but more important work of building lasting change; to whether steering scarce resources and attention to arresting one man is a good idea; to how Western charities and their supporters can support positive change in countries like Uganda without engaging in a kind of western-savior cultural and political imperialism.

But along with that conversation, there’s also been some disdain for the thousands of thousands of young people who were moved to participate for the first time on any issue, let alone an international one. “Slacktivism” is the insult of choice. And the risk is that drowning their enthusiasm in derision will turn them off activism altogether. Or it may further alienate them from the organizations and approaches that are building lasting, long-term progress on self-determination, self-reliance and social justice – the kind that takes the big picture into mind.

Can those organizations learn from Invisible Children’s viral success? That would be ideal – but it’s not like they can treat the approach as a template. Global Voices co-founder Ethan Zuckerman says it well:

The Kony story resonates because it’s the story of an identifible individual doing bodily harm to children. It’s a story with a simple solution, and it plays into existing narratives about the ungovernability of Africa, the power of US military and the need to bring hidden conflict to light…. What are the unintended consequences of the Invisible Children narrative? The main one is increased support for Yoweri Museveni, the dictatorial and kleptocratic leader of Uganda….As someone who believes that the ability to create and share media is an important form of power, the Invisible Children story presents a difficult paradox. If we want people to pay attention to the issues we care about, do we need to oversimplify them? And if we do, do our simplistic framings do more unintentional harm than intentional good? Or is the wave of pushback against this campaign from Invisible Children evidence that we’re learning to read and write complex narratives online, and that a college student with doubts about a campaign’s value and validity can find an audience? Will Invisible Children’s campaign continue unchanged, or will it engage with critics and design a more complex and nuanced response?

In the changing world of volunteer activism – particularly with the rise of social networks – non-profits are finding they have to change too, often fundamentally. That’s one of the key insights of Beth Kanter and Allison Fine’s book The Networked Nonprofit, which argues organizations have to become more open, and engage with their supporters more as peers and free agents than as volunteers slotted into pre-defined roles.

Harnessing the energy of a #kony2012 – and ensuring it does more good than harm – is one more challenge they’re facing.

Disgruntled actor: Gracious, shmacious. I'm damned if I'm going to applaud when I've been beaten for best actor by an Xtranormal character.


Text-to-(acceptance)-speech published on 1 Comment on Text-to-(acceptance)-speech

(Originally posted to ReadWriteWeb)

The official Oscar nominations are out, and there’s a movie up for best picture that has a lot to say about social media and the online communications revolution sweeping the world.

The Social Network? Hell, no. I’m talking about The King’s Speech.

Set mostly in the years leading up to the Second World War, The King’s Speech deals with the extraordinary relationship between speech therapist Lionel Logue and Albert, Duke of York. Albert has a persistent stammer, an affliction that might have gone largely unremarked in past generations. But this is the era of radio, and when he ascends (a little relucantly) to the throne as King George VI, he must deliver an address to a nation suffering from grave fear and doubt.

(Spoiler alert: If you have some knowledge of history, you are probably assuming his address was at least good enough to avoid demoralizing the nation and forcing Britain’s capitulation to the Nazis. And you are correct. Also, you were probably a little surprised by the ending of Inglorious Basterds.)

This is the story of a friendship that crosses some very deep divides of class and colonialism. But it’s also a story of entrenched institutions confronting the transformational changes brought about thanks to technological innovation. And it’s a story of the changing relationship between the public and those in power, who have had a long time to become used to deciding when, where and how any communication will take place between them.

That’s a timely theme for anyone watching the past day’s events unfold in Tunisia and Egypt – or, for the matter, the past decade’s events in much of the rest of the world.

Besides, isn’t all video ‘mobile’? I mean, the pictures move.

Besides, isn’t all video ‘mobile’? I mean, the pictures move. published on No Comments on Besides, isn’t all video ‘mobile’? I mean, the pictures move.

Originally posted on BlogWorld

The day ended with a session on video, chaired by Susan Bratton of Personal Life Media, and featuring Dermot McCormack, Executive Vice President of MTV Music Group Digital; Dick Glover, CEO of Funny or Die; and Jim Louderback, CEO of Revision3.

There were some great moments, including the revelation that the budget of a typical Funny or Die video is… drumroll please… what’s that? We can’t afford a drumroll? That must be because the figure is only $2,000.

But the moment that grabbed me early on was the emphatic statement by one of the panelists that one huge factor affecting the future of video right now is the rise of mobile. And given how many conversations I’ve had with people who are still trying to get their minds around just how huge a platform mobile is, well, that spurred this cartoon.

Madness v. Method

Madness v. Method published on No Comments on Madness v. Method

I don’t fall in love with corporate campaigns very often, let alone draw a tribute cartoon. But this one by Method

Basically, Method’s been using a daisy in conjunction with its sustainable-household-product marketing for years. Along comes Clorox, who starts using a yellow daisy for its line of sustainable household products, and then slaps Method with a cease-and-desist letter.

Method chose Earth Day to respond with this – a site that lets you vote whether you think the daisy should belong to Clorox, Method or the planet – and with this:

Anyway, this cartoon is in honor of not just a brilliant bit of campaigning, but of one corporation taking a stand against intellectual property run amuck. Come on, Clorox – daisies have been around for at least 36 million years. I think the term for that is prior art.


2008-11-21-shiba published on No Comments on 2008-11-21-shiba