The future of storytelling: Collaboration, quality, engagement

The barriers to entry are much lower… anyone, if they want to, can really be creative and say what they want to say.

A compelling snippet here (at least for me) from the Future of Storytelling’s (FoST) channel.  Some of the points here that resonated with me related to interviewee’s perspective on the importance of collaboration in content creation, quality, intimacy (in public forums), technology’s role in democratization of video content, and engagement.

The interviewee is Lisa Donovan, one of the cofounders of Maker Studios, a collaborative “talent-first media company founded by YouTube artists.”  The network was founded in 2009 to provide the best environment for artists to create, distribute, and monetize their original content on YouTube; the content produced at Maker Studios gets about four billion views each month.

image-reinventing storytellingMy takeaways / Highlights

Collaboration.  Working on one channel… we didn’t know how sustainable that would be and we thought that there’s a bigger opportunity here. If we came together with other like-minded people who were making their living on YouTube and we shared resources and we shared audiences, we could all benefit from that…

Immediacy and Quality.  We can now respond so quickly to something happening in current events…. You have people now getting more viewership and spending less money on the product that they’re making; it’s bringing up the question: What is quality? Just because it costs $100M to make a movie… does that mean it’s quality if I don’t enjoy it? (Nor with) I think is interesting or as engaging as something that’s 15 minutes that costs almost nothing…?

Intimacy.  What we’re seeing a lot more now is people being a lot more open with their life and sharing their life… there is sort of an intimacy that is created between the audience and the person creating the content.  I think structure and format and experience are all incredibly important when it comes to quality…

New Technology.  Technology has changed the landscape drastically. This is a huge moment in entertainment because you can’t have one studio or one person define what quality is. Now you have audiences defining, for themselves, what quality is…

Engagement and democratization of content.  Anybody who is successful in creating quality online content is a master at engaging with their audience…. The barriers to entry are much lower… anyone if they want to can really be creative and say what they want to say.  And that’s exciting…

Your turn: Maybe it’s time to give collaboration a second look?

The points around collaboration really resonated with me here.  In the dialog I have with others in my courses and professional networks, it’s not uncommon for me to find folks with truly great ideas for courses or other content that shouldneed–to get online, but that, all too often, never see the light of day because of perceived barriers to content creation and work effort.   Are there ideas you have that could benefit from collaboration with a like-minded content creator?

Dummies Guide to Drawing Custom Sketch Graphics On the iPad – No Graphic Artistry Required!

No copyright worries…And, you don’t have to be an artist


Drawn using the iPad 2, Bamboo Stylus, SketchBook Pro. Creative commons: share | attribution | non-commercial

Have you ever worried about possibly violating someone’s copyright when you grab an image from “the wild” to place on your blog? Well, you’re correct to think about it. But, with your iPad, a stylus and the right app, you can get around all that by creating your own custom sketch graphics library from pictures you take yourself.

The best thing about it? You don’t even have to be an artist!

Do you remember back in grade school when we got a kick out of tracing pictures?


Creative commons | share | attribution | non commercial

I remember my third grade teacher, Mrs. Telgenhoff I think her name was (?), handing out tracing paper, a #2 pencil and some random old magazine to me and my classmates.  Then, for the next half-hour, or so, the whole class would just go to town tracing “grown up” pictures (not to be confused with “adult pictures”) from pages of an old Life or Time magazine.

Then, after tracing them out in pencil on white paper, the real fun would start.  That’s when we brought out the crayons and started filling in the white space in our custom made coloring book.

Now, a couple of decades later — okay, a few decades later — it turns out, we can recoup a lot of that old childhood picture-tracing fun.

The video above shows how you can go to town with images you capture yourself and then trace them out on your iPad using a nifty little app that retails for about $3.  Hey, you can even color it if you want.

And, here’s another little tip:  You can also do this on your computer using a Wacom tablet, stylus and software like Photoshop or the open source image software Gimp.

[Off-topic for Veteran’s Day] Veterans: A Closet Full of Guns and Ammo?

proud-veteran-usnVeterans are people, too, my friends

Like you, as a citizen of this great country I’m grateful for the service and sacrifice of our men and women in uniform.  And, as a veteran myself, I’d like to express our appreciation of your willingness to honor us on a day such as today.  But, I’d also like to challenge you.

You see, from my vantage point, far too many of us don’t always see our veterans for what they are:  people and world diplomats.  The fact is, some — not all, but enough — of us occasionally fall into that hole where veterans are objectified as “…a closet full of guns (and) ammo… As if to be pulled out like a lawnmower whenever the grass gets too unruly.  But in fact, a key differentiator of our military is their capacity to think, help shape strategy and even carry diplomatic relations on the world stage.  Consider the diplomatic roles of esteemed veterans such as Collin Powell, David Petraeus (recent events notwithstanding and which shouldn’t diminish his great contributions), or Army Special Forces Major James Gravrilis.  Far from being a closet full of guns and ammo, our veterans perform brilliantly as military diplomats who have independent will and a moral compass that guide their capacity for critical analysis.

“A Closet Full of Guns and Ammo”

A couple of months ago, on the heels of the embassy attack at Benghazi, one of my professional acquaintances publicly expressed his frustrations about that attack in a post on one of the popular social networks.  In that rant, he described his home-spun foreign policy of “Overreaction.”  And he demanded (in rant-wise fashion) that our elected leaders adopt it.  In one paragraph he expressed the following in apparent reference to the citizens of non-American countries (bold highlights are mine for emphasis relevant to this discussion):

“…if we’re gonna be just friends, you need to know something about us.  We’re going to overreact.  A lot.  In ways that you’ll find very extreme. So if you or some of your more excitable lads kill an American, we might go totally overboard and drop a few thousand bombs on your capitol.  If that American is an ambassador, we might roll tanks through your cities and start executing anyone wearing your military’s uniform. Then, of course, we’ll leave. We’re dangerous, ignorant Americans after all. We just wanna be left alone, and if not left alone, then we might be really, really unpredictable. And we really might not care that various other countries “condemn” our actions, or pass UN resolutions…

He goes on like that for a few more paragraphs and closes his rant this way:

“Just think of us as that crazy neighbor…that quiet, keeps-to-himself neighbor with a closet full of guns, ammo by the thousands, and who-knows-what-else.  And he might be a little bit unstable from his war experience…

Incredibly, many of his readers (though not all, but sadly many) actually applauded this “policy.”

Military Diplomats

Contrary to how easily some would classify our veterans as a “…closet full of guns (and) ammo…”, the fact is, our veterans are not trained to be the “John Wayne” or “Rambo” stereotype who stoically obeys orders without question.

In fact, a unique differentiator of our military citizens is their ability to ask relevant questions and critically analyze local events as they carry out those orders.  In many (most?) cases, they’ll actually shape the orders themselves.

Don’t get me wrong.  I share my acquaintance’s frustrations about our American citizens being attacked any where in the world.  I may even applaud the flag-waving nature of his rant.  But characterizing our veterans as executors of a policy of “Overreaction” doesn’t honor them.

My hope for today, and on all days after Veterans Day, is that when you see rants such as that above, that you show gratitude for the true contributions of our veterans by reminding such authors — and their readers — that typically when “we” say “we” will “drop a few thousand bombs on (another nation’s) capitol…” and “…roll tanks through (their) cities and start executing (their citizens)…” and “…test some of the thermonuclear ‘stuff’ in our inventory…,” that you remind them that blindly carrying out the wishes of a “crazy neighbor” is not the mission of our service members.

Being belligerent is easy.  The hard part — the part for which we should truly thank our veterans — is their capacity for being the human filter behind the trigger.  They are the heroes who exercise restraint in their use of force, while critically analyzing and adapting to events even as arm-chair quarterbacks — and their followers — spout ill-conceived home-spun policies of “Overreaction” at all cost.