Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Entertainment Weekly: 2.0 - The Talent of the New Media World

The story so far....

Episode one: creating the market, concept and technology for podcasts (perhaps parented by the flashy-clothed Adam Curry, perhaps not).

Episode two: create a distribution channel so people didn't have to go and hunt for these things themselves. Slight modifications to already existing Really Simple Syndication technology solved that little dilemma. This allowed iPodder (oops, I mean Juice) to be created as a simple podcast catcher. The resultant podcasts can be placed anywhere your listening-deprived heart desires. Oh, yeah, and...iTunes does this too, just not as well.

Episode three: add video and stir. The next logical evolution in this rapidly adopted medium was to add video to the content. The first person out the door with a video podcast production is mired in hazy history, but many believe it to be a serialized comedy podcast about zombies from Rocket Ace Moving Pictures called Dead End Days. (October, 2003). (The first true production that could be called a "video blog" was from Steve Garfield, released in January of 2004.

Episode four: get this stuff OFF the computer and your iPod and onto a TV set where you can have a proper dinner in a little metal tray while watching these things. As I wrote about in April, technologies now exist to move this stuff to your television. I'm currently using the popular TVTonic on my Vista Media Center, but other solutions exist from Akimbo, Apple, and now TiVO, for getting video podcasts directly to your television.

Which brings us to the inevitable ---

Episode five: the rise of the internet long-tail media stars....

Oh sure, watching a cat fall onto a bunsen-burner on YouTube is fun, as is watching that whacky guy from down the hall in the dorm squirt beer out of his nose...but, uh, those "talents" don't really have any staying power. The secret to long life and viral addiction for internet media is the same as it is for all media. Get someone, or a collection of "someones," that has enough on-air (on-IP?) presence that you want to see that person again and again. Someone who consistently brings in viewers (downloads?) and who becomes a fixture - not just in their chosen media - but on other media as well (print, radio, social networking sites, twitter, etc.)...

How do you know when that person has reached that level of achievement in this weird new media world? Same as you did in the old one - they pull a Katie Couric: moving around the podcast-sphere with much fanfare when new opportunities and career advancement are dangled in front of them.

Judging by the recent spate of Couric-esque moves, we've definitely reached Episode five. A quick, non-inclusive list over the past few weeks includes:

  • Jim Louderback leaves Ziff-Davis to become CEO of Revision 3. (I like how Yahoo refers to the new media space as "niche television.") Although not always on-air (on-IP?) talent, Jim has been a guiding force behind ZDTV's TechTV, and hosted "Fresh Gear" for quite a while. When he was at ZD Media's internet division, Jim helped launch DL.tv and "Cranky Geeks" (hosted by the ever-cranky John Dvorak, who frequently takes potshots at Louderback). Both DL.tv and "Cranky Geeks" are coming to TiVO-cast.
  • Speaking of Head Crank Dvorak, he apparently picked up a VP spot at the PodShow. I don't think he is an on-air presence over there (yet), and I have no idea how this effects his relationship with ZD Media...if it does at all.
  • Veronica Belmont, fanboy favorite (yeah, including me), on CNET's amazingly entertaining Buzz Out Loud podcast announced she was leaving last week to move to Mahalo.com (ma-HA-low), where she will be given her own video podcast (presumably of indeterminate length).
  • Karina Stenquist of MoBuzz.tv, another fanboy favorite (again, including me), left MoBuzz.tv last month to pursue other options. Karina has been replaced by Susan Hickey, who has her work cut out for her filling the easy non-talking-head style of Karina. Karina hasn't landed anywhere else, yet - but she was rumored to be seen wandering the halls of Google. Hmmmm. Has she slipped into urban-legendhood already?
There are more, of course...Tom Merritt, another CNET staff...er..castmember isn't leaving Buzz Out Loud, but his voice on the podcast nation is spreading. (Check out the brilliant "East Meets West" with Roger Chang.) Leo Laporte's TWiT empire is growing with frightening speed, and in it's wake TWiT is creating new "long-tail superstars" like Amber MacArthur, Paul Thurott, and Steve Gibson. Over at Revision3, Kevin Rose and Alex Albrech are household names among the digerati (diggerati??) as they out Wayne "Wayne's World" ... and, of course, over at ZD is John Dvorak with his collection of seriously cranky geeks.


Want more proof that these guys and gals are the new media elite? Quick - name 4 prime-time news anchors. Yeah, didn't think so.

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