I’ve been pushing hard on the video button lately, saying that a good content network needs video as part of its mix to be viable. The reason is that video engages more of our senses, forges more intimate relationships than just audio, and provides more information sharing opportunities. And yet, making video is complex, and consuming video requires a level of attention not required by audio. Just the same, I still believe my assertions. Here are some thoughts.
Video as a Connector
Radio was around for decades before MTV, but look how MTV captured the spirit and soul of music in the 80s (such as music was back then). I used to sit around the television just waiting and waiting for yet another new video. I wonder how fast bands and production companies started churning those things out once MTV launched. We must agree, however, that MTV (and probably the Playboy Channel) were the killer apps for Cable TV.
TV puts a face to a voice. It was central to the Nixon / Kennedy debate, because young John F. Kennedy was seen as handsome, and Richard Nixon was perceived to be twitchy, unshaved, and ill at ease. Had this been audio-only, we might’ve had a different experience. More recently, Senator George Allen got himself into trouble for the famous “Macaca” video. (But that’s okay, he says people don’t care about that).
Seeing someone makes a connection we don’t have from voice alone.
Something To Say
But video is a delivery mechanism. Sitting in front of a camera for a while, recording it, and sending it off isn’t exactly communication (not without some effort, smarties). We have to remember that the medium isn’t the message (okay, sometimes it *is* the message, but not in this example). The importance or value in using video to communicate information is in sharing something extra that text or voice alone can’t convey.
If you’re going to create a video product, take advantage of the medium. Show something that is hard to experience through sound alone. Give people a taste of the world they’re not currently experiencing through your recordings. Or build information into the production that goes beyond the audience simply seeing your lips move and your eyes inflect. (Unless you’re Ze Frank, but I digress).
The Paradox of Audio and Text
The thing is, video’s harder to consume. It’s easier to blow through a variety of blogs, get the salient points, and call it good. You can rush through text at a rate MANY times faster than listening to a radio show or watching internet TV. Audio is easier and more portable to consume than video. I can listen to podcasts in my car, for example, and not worry about missing something on screen.
And thus, I say that a content network is still important. The adoption of email might be commonplace. Blogging might feel mainstream to us. But these new media are still relatively new to the common person. Providing a text experience, and even a series of audio experiences makes a good complement to the video shows you produce.
Building standalone programming is less and less of an option. You can go to the other end of the spectrum with only a small additional effort. Take Casey and Rudy. They produce a great weekly sci-fi comedy video show. It’s one of my “must watch” internet TV experiences. They realized a wiki makes for a great way to share a “toybox” of interactive tools with their audience, along with several other great ideas.
So even creating in one medium is less of an option. It’s really a requirement, I believe, to offer the whole experience.
I continue to maintain that partnering with other content producers is a strategy to pursue. There are people doing great video work out there. Find them. Gather. Build a network with your like-minded material. For instance, Felt Up TV and RSS News and the other 3 puppet shows I’ve seen would make a great product package. Mix in some snarky audio shows and maybe a funny scripted audio show, and it’d make for an excellent offering to any network, mainstream or next generation.
Now is the time to find your colleagues, strike up alliances, agree to starry-eyed views of how you might help each other grow into the future. Do it now before someone comes and scoops up the folks you want to work with. They might not be around for long. I think that soon enough, the next strategic moves will be obvious. Then, the land grab will be on. Only, Casey and Rudy will be the land. Justin. Everyone I know will be looped into networks.
Act now. Supplies are limited. Operators are standing by.
–Chris Brogan is community developer for Video on the Net and a producer at Network2, a place to find great TV shows available on the Internet. He is co-Founder of PodCamp.