Frozen moments in an age of technological wonder

Posted by bryanzug - 2007/04/17

There are moments that, ages from now, you will remember exactly where you were at when you heard the news.

Like last night.

I was driving back to my hotel in Palo Alto from the Web 2.0 Expo at San Francisco’s Moscone Center West. I turned on the alternative station and heard Loveline come on with Dr. Drew.

I could tell something was different as they started the show — there was a quick note that they had rescheduled the guests for the evening (two porn actresses) and were going to take calls about the Virginia Tech shooting.

What ‘Virginia Tech Shooting?’ I asked myself.

I listened for a few minutes. Not much info. I scanned the FM stations. Nothing there but entertainment. I switched to AM and moved from news site to news site, picking up details.

What a sad moment.

This AM as I listened to CNN while getting ready to head back to the conference, I heard an account from a professor in the building where most of the murders occurred.

He described hearing gunshots and barricading himself into his office. He detailed how he went to watch video on CNN’s web site to get an idea of what was happening around him.

And I am at one of the biggest tech conferences to ever focus on how we, as an industry, create things like streaming media tools, etc. — and how they [might]((http://chris.pirillo.com/2007/04/13/live-internet-video-stream/) be used.

I honestly never imagined that one — streaming video to monitor a massacre in your immediate proximity.

Stranger still is the fact that, after the Dot Com Crash, I worked at Real Networks for a year — monitoring the live performance of those CNN feeds — rallying the troops when surges brought things to a halt — triaging the system when it all went to hell.

I was the guy who woke up the Real news chief when the space shuttle broke up on re-entry in 2003. The team I was on monitored the video readiness as the U.S. prepared to invade Iraq and the fall(?) of Bagdad.

Sigh — may you live in interesting times is both a blessing and a curse.



Creating Passionate Users: Face-to-Face Trumps Twitter, Blogs, Podcasts, Video…

Posted by bryanzug - 2007/03/16

God bless Kathy Sierra.

Over the last few months I’ve found myself trying to explain the deepening (and real community) aspects of meatspace interactions that my wife Jen and I have been drawn into as a result of participating in online community.

Ruthie's Shoes at Northern Voice 2007

Usually we are trying to explain to business colleagues or friends or family or members of our church that, yes, indeed — online community is a part of real community and not the equivalent of social cheese-whiz that some describe it to be.

But, yeah — as I’m working to explain it I often see eyes begin to glaze over — and I can tell that folks are either not buying it or I’m not communicating very well.

Which leaves me — searching for ways to compellingly relate how online community has become real community for us — looking for the stories and patterns that engage both the emotion and the intellect.

Enter Kathy Sierra.

This morning I read her post from yesterday describing her keynote at SXSW. The post is called Face-to-Face Trumps Twitter, Blogs, Podcasts, Video… and is full of great passages on how all this social web software drives a deeper desire for face-to-face community.

My favorite quote —

…all our globally-connecting-social-networking tools are making face-to-face more, not less desirable. Thanks to the tools y’all are building, we now have more far-flung friends–including people we’ve never met f2f–than ever before. We now have more people we want to connect with in the human world, often after years of electronic-only contact.

Nice insight — sticking that pattern in my bag of tricks — something tells me the “online community isn’t real community, is it?” questions aren’t gonna stop anytime soon — this stuff is continuing to disrupt everything.

Did I mention that my mom who just got her first computer for Christmas is now IM’ing all the time — the world really is getting flat.



Great Primer on Open Source Folkways

Posted by bryanzug - 2007/03/15

A couple of weeks ago I noticed that two good friends of mine here in Seattle were cross posting on their blogs about Flash/Flex momentum and how a healthy open source governance structure might be helpful in pushing momentum even further.

My natural question — have you guys met face to face? Wanna grab some food?

So last night I met Ted Leung and Ryan Stewart for dinner down at Ivar’s on the waterfront. Great time, great view, great conversation.

Though Ted and I both work in the tech industry and have been friends since Mind Camp 1.0, I had never heard him talk about his long history with open source communities and governance (Apache, et al).

All I can say is that I learned a ton about that and distributed project/team folkways in general.

Great, great evening.



Whitespace: 34% More Retention in Half the Time

Posted by bryanzug - 2007/03/14

Cool article this AM from the USC Annenberg Online Journalism Review. It’s a review of an eyetracking research study called “Eyetracking points the way to effective news article design“.

Best quote —

“What if you could engage users in a story for about half the time, yet have them remember about 34 percent more of the content?”

Visit the article for cool screenshots of the noted before and after design. Main takeaways are that retention increased with a redesign that emphasized —

  • Increased white space
  • Concise main idea
  • Removal of unnecessary images
  • Shortened lines of text
  • An added graphic for each restaurant ranking


‘Made to Stick’ Cover Design

Posted by bryanzug - 2007/02/17

IMAGE_078

My wife Jen and I were at Powell’s in Portland today and the first thing I saw when I walked in the door was this book ‘Made to Stick’ with a piece of duct tape on the cover.

Psych.

That’s cool cover design. And it got me to look at and buy the book. The six points of stickiness it covers —

  1. Simplicity
  2. Unexpectedness
  3. Concreteness
  4. Credibility
  5. Emotion
  6. Stories

I was just having a ‘discussion’ the other day about stickiness with a colleague of mine — what are the things that get an idea or a presentation to stand out and stay with? What are the characteristics of ideas that, when released into the world around us, make them take flight and establish a life of their own?

Hard questions — especially amidst all of the ‘noise of the age’ that clutters our current generations, from MySpace to Baby Boomer to Seasoned Citizens.

Me? I come down with most of the things on this list — so it’s timely.

Him? Not so much — instead he called catering to such things entertainment — and, well, he’s in the education business, not the entertainment business.

I was surprised again at how some lies die such slow deaths.

If you are in any kind of educational endeaver please drop this from your language — we are not in the entertainment business — we are in the attention span business.

And if you are not working to make your material sticky, then you are just wasting a lot of people’s time.



George Budabin passes, receives, and goes long

Posted by bryanzug - 2006/12/21

My friend Andru Edwards’ dad died this week. For those that don’t know, Andru is a primary instigator for Seattle Mind Camp — a gathering near and dear to me.

In this post about George Budabin, Andru recounts how George and his wife adopted him when he was a NYC 16 year old — and how George’s unflappable intentionality of love and male leadership toward Andru changed everything.

I didn’t know Andru was adopted until I read that — and must say that I was moved by the simple story of how George invested the ‘venture capital’ at his disposal.

This is one of the reasons I love the professional and human sides of blogging so much — you never know the things you’ll learn and how many interesting stories are sitting right under your nose.

On the day you and I expire, may we leave a legacy that passes, receives, and goes as long as that of George Budabin.



Udell on ‘Video Knowledge’ and my riff on the death of the specialist

Posted by bryanzug - 2006/12/20

Father of screencasting, Jon Udell has great post on the move toward video as a knowledge/rapid-documentation repository. After a few technical points, he hits this gem that completely jives with my experience on getting into the flow of screencasting —

…you have to overcome the same natural reticence that makes dictation such an awkward process for those of us who haven’t formerly incorporated it into our work style. You also have to overcome the notion, which we unconsciously absorb from our entertainment-oriented culture, that video is a form of entertainment. It can be. Depending on the producer, a screencast documenting a disaster recovery scenario could be side-splittingly funny. And if the humor didn’t compromise the message, a funny version would be much more effective than a dry recitation. But even a dry recitation is way, way better than what’s typically available: nothing.

Just another step toward the seamlessness of media where real headway means that this will be less and less of a specialist skill — who is a ‘word processing’ specialist these days?

No one — every one.

There is a point in the future (near? mid? far?) Jon alludes to here where things like screencasting will be a natural repository for business/education/whatever knowledge — a time when this stuff will not be a specialized skillset.


Last night with the wife and kids, I brought YouTube up on the family TV and searched for my wife’s username and my daughter’s name. We all sat mesmerized for 30 minutes while we played the various clips Jen has uploaded over the past 6-8 months.

It’s content that I, as a professional multimedia producer, had little to do with — All video my wife produced on her own through mostly self developed knowledge and a digital camera (not a miniDV camcorder).

What does TV look like to my daughter and my wife? Something much less specialized than I could ever imagine — and I’ve got a good imagination.

On with the flattening of the universe…



Mind Camp 3.0 Video

Posted by bryanzug - 2006/11/14

I’m in the process of uploading video I shot at Mind Camp 3.0 here in Seattle last weekend. So far I’ve uploaded two video files from the ‘Discovery Slam‘ that Scott Berkun and I hosted.

From that session, Ben Livingston’s amazing ‘Blade of Grass Beatbox’ is at —

http://www.blip.tv/file/101016

The full discovery slam is here —

http://www.blip.tv/file/101030

Stay tuned for other sessions I’ll be uploading my raw video for — they are —

<li><a href="http://blog.stewtopia.com/2006/11/13/mindcamp-30/">Randy Stewart's</a> Fun Web Session</li>

<li>The PhraseTrain session (forgot to get the session leaders name on that one -- if anyone has it, please shoot it to me).</li>
<li>

Intros — these will be up sometime next week — had to shoot those to tape and they will require a bit more turnaround time.

Will let you all know when these are ready.

Some caveats — full sessions are raw footage, so you may have to forward a minute or so at the beginning — also was playing around with shooting straight to disk in a web ready format for super quick turnaround on these sessions, so the video is a little bit too compressed for my taste — will be switching codecs/formats a little next time around.

Also — catching discussion audio is hard because nobody likes to use a mic — but things seem audible for the most part in the discussion sessions I shot — please let me know what you think once they are posted.



Dove targets ‘beauty propoganda’ and blurs the lines of education, conversation, marketing, and provocation

Posted by bryanzug - 2006/10/31

Perusing the meme this AM, I came across this Advertising Age article on Dove generating more results/buzz from this viral YouTube video than through a Super Bowl ad.

With not a penny of paid media and in less than a month, “Dove Evolution,” a 75-second viral film created by Ogilvy & Mather, Toronto, for the Unilever brand has reaped more than 1.7 million views on YouTube and has gotten significant play on TV talk shows “Ellen” and “The View” as well as on “Entertainment Tonight.” It’s also brought the biggest-ever traffic spike to CampaignForRealBeauty.com, three times more than Dove’s Super Bowl ad and resulting publicity last year, according to Alexa.com. By those measures, “Evolution” is the biggest online-buzz generator in the U.S. personal-care and beauty industries, topping this year’s effort from Omnicom Group’s Tribal DDB on behalf of the Philips Norelco Bodygroom shaver. And that’s before the campaign began rolling out to 10 additional countries in Europe, Asia and Latin America last week.

When you watch the video, it’s easy to see why this is so sticky — very compelling conversation going on there about ‘truth/beauty’ done in a very lowfi way (even though it is an ad).

As the father of a 3 year old girl, Dove just won me over with a combination of marketing, education, conversation and provocation on the issue of ‘beauty propoganda’.

Somehow I get the feeling that this is what education is going to look like in the future — lots of blurred lines — all requiring engaged citizens who will need to sort it all out.



Crittendon on ‘Why your kids should play more video games’

Posted by bryanzug - 2006/10/27

Very interesting post by Danielle Crittendon on “Why Your Kids Should Play More Video Games” over at the Huffington Post. Thanks to Ian on the Second Life Educators Distribution list (SLED) for the link.

Love the anecdotes about how real world learning (english lit, economics, team leadership) skillz are making it into the new Xbox sports games — very interesting.

“I thought you were up here killing space aliens.”

“No.” He sighs with the exasperation of the chronically misunderstood. “I’m building a new franchise.”

I sink into the sofa to watch, interested. The game is MLB Baseball and, as my son explains, very little of the fun comes from playing simulated major league games.

In “franchise mode, ” he explains (all the while pulling up menus and pressing buttons), you have to acquire a team and a stadium, “set parking lot prices, ticket prices, concession stands and how much it costs for a stuffed animal or jersey. You have give-aways which cost you money but brings up attendance. You can lose your franchise if you do badly. I lost my team because I drove it into bankruptcy.”

On a tech note, this is my first post from Flock — question — where are the categories? — Oh, they come up as an option after you hit publish — wierd.



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