It’s come to me: the answer to what’s been bugging me for weeks. I’ve had this kind of malaise about new media, this kind of “podcasting is too insular” feeling. This stretches to video, audio, and even most blogs- even mine. It was/is feeling too much like preaching to the converted. And yet, I wasn’t thinking we should all just throw it away. So here it is (and you can “well, DUH!” me in comments):
New Media is a Tool
Podcasting, blogging, videoblogging: they are all just ways to communicate information. So are newspapers, television shows, and radio stations. So, what are the differences?
With new media tools, you have the ability to create your own media, distribute it, promote it- all in an open system, where everyone can have access to what you consider useful. A tool. That’s it. Not a movement. The movement is the fact these tools are now here. Whoopti-do. Pat your backs. Now, get to work.
Learn the Tools
Just like journalism, learning how to tell a better story, write a better blog, shoot more compelling video is a lifelong effort. If you love this process, learning how to improve your ability to tell a compelling story and build relationships through your digital media of choice, then you’re on the right road.
It’s cool that you CAN be a hack and still get some distribution, but it’s not enough to stay useful, interesting, or worth someone giving their attention. Learn. Build your skills, and grow from there.
This is the revelation part. There should be explosions, flashing sounds, those kinds of queues in movies that tell you, “Hey! Popcorn chin! Pay attention here!”
Get out of the fishbowl. Go back to where your skills can be useful. Work. The Community. Your Family. Your neighborhood. Don’t just stick around with the other new media types.
It’d be like a bunch of firefighters just hanging around in a gym getting stronger. It’d be like watching the Justice League always just hanging out in their secret hideout polishing their batarangs or whatever. The point is: build your capabilities, then go out and USE THEM on something pertinent to something OTHER THAN new media.
We are the Fishbowl
We are the media. Got it. Yep. Now, go out and BE the media. Do something. Cover something. Make the world a brighter and more connected place by bringing the stories from the NON-new media enabled, non Web 2.0 spaces.
Assign yourself a new beat. Give yourself a new area to cover. And here’s a trick: extra points if this new area helps others (in whatever way works for you). Instead of a podcast about parties in Second Life, maybe a podcast about getting the most out of Second Life for small town businesses. Instead of a videoblog about all the conferences you attend (like mine?), maybe a series of video how-to guides, or video travel guides.
What Would Change for You?
What’s your blog/podcast/videoblog/whatever cover? What are you contributing right now? Is it useful to something outside the echo chamber? Does it help people NOT already inside the fishbowl nodding their heads in agreement?
Examples of non-fishbowl podcasts, video sites, blogs:
- Financial Aid Podcast- teaches something every day, even if you DON’T have a student loan.
- Chris Pirillo – his site has blown up lately, covering finances, politics, how-to all over the map, and other notions. It’s not focused, but lots of it has been extra useful lately.
- Seth Godin – lots of examples of how to do better things to represent your company or brand.
- Start Cooking or Spices of Life or Fearless Cooking all teach you something.
- Real World Green about living green for the rest of us.
I could probably come up with more were I not offline while writing this. You might recommend others in the comments for me? But you get the point. It’s not about the bike. It’s not about the band. It’s not the fishbowl.
Use your tools in the EMBEDDED world you already live in. Take what you know how to do and find the REAL stories, the real useful stuff, the real “make a difference in the world” stuff.
Because it’s not being created in Hollywood or New York or Wellington or London or Tokyo. It’s coming straight outta you. The new stuff. The real stuff will be YOUR production teaching us something astounding. And I’ll tell you now that almost everything I do at PodCamp Boston2 will be on this theme. So be ready.
What’s your take?