10 Lessons I Learned From NaNoWriMo and Daily Vlogging

I’m not sure when I first heard of NaNoWriMo, but when I did, I knew at some point I would be participating in it. Additionally, when I started my YouTube channel, I knew that eventually, I would end up daily vlogging, if just for a short time. In classic Elliot Chan fashion, I decided to kill two birds and attack both marathon projects at the same time.

This is what happened:

 

Now that it’s over, I am both relieved and exhausted, but with what little energy I have at the moment, let’s reflect on the experience. Here are the 10 things I learned from doing NaNoWriMo and Daily Vlogging at the same time:

1. YouTube Gave My Videos A Chance… But Didn’t Change My Life

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My YouTube impressions

The first few days of my daily vlog, I thought I was going to go viral. I literally did! I thought my channel was going to explode. I got excited. After all, I got more subscribers in the first week of NaNoWriMo/daily vlog, than I got the past 5 months of producing my ultra niche experimental writing content. This was huge — except it wasn’t.

YouTube’s impression plummeted during the second week, then rose again during the weekend and then dropped again. More research is needed, but it was interesting seeing my content get a solid chance at the start… perhaps when the NaNoWriMo interest was at the highest.

2. Viewers Have Been SO Supportive

I was genuinely surprised by all the support I got from my viewers. As someone who is new to YouTube and the NaNoWriMo community, I thought I was going to get a lot of people correcting me or telling me how to write or that I’m not focusing on the right things by vlogging, and on and on. I got none of that.

Just a Movember request from my buddy Sean *sigh* you can’t please everyone:

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If you’re worried about trolls, I say don’t, in general most people are kind — or at least they mean no malice.

3. Outlining Was Helpful at the Beginning and End But Not in the Middle

I couldn’t imagine doing this tandem project without an outline. I tried to at first… but with limited time in my day, I couldn’t allow myself to sit there for even 5 minutes and get inspired.

I needed to attack the page and an outline helped me do that. However, once I got going, I veered away from my outline. Not too far, but enough that I dilly-dallied on a few scenes or on a plot point that I wasn’t anticipating.

As I rounded the corner on the last week, I realized the importance of finishing (at least knowing where I would finish). I created another outline, this time from the ¾ point of the novel. This gave me the direction and momentum to wrap up my novel (which to my chagrin, is still unfinished).

 

 

4. Something’s Gotta Give — Not Everything, Just Something

At first, I was like, “I’m going to drop everything to do NaNoWriMo and daily vlog.” Then I realized that that would be a) unrealistic b) make for a really boring vlog.

I strategically drop stuff that took away my time from writing and were not interesting to film. So watching sports and tv shows were the first to be dropped from my schedule. Nothing eats up more time in my life than simply sitting and watching tv.

The other thing I had to drop, unfortunately, was cooking food for myself. I had a lot of precooked Costco meals in November because cooking is time-consuming and I’m not great at it. It would be an uninteresting repetitive chore that I didn’t need in my life at this time.

What I didn’t drop was seeing my friends. As much as I wanted to hit my word count goal, I realized that my vlog is an opportunity to capture my time with the people in my life. I tried to say “Yes” to invites, knowing that this project was more than simply writing and video creation. It’s something nice for me to look back on.

5. People Will Make It Seem Harder Than It Is

Every time I bring up my tandem project, people will ask me why I’m doing it. There’s a tinge of “Do you really want attention that bad?” in their tone.

Why do people run marathons? It is a challenge. People who run marathons aren’t trying to impress everyone else. They are doing it for themselves. Many will constantly say things like, “I can NEVER do that!” As if what other people are doing is that hard. It isn’t. It’s committing to something for a month. I understand, what I’m doing is not for everyone, but I’m confident that anyone who wants to do it, CAN.

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6. It Feels So Good to Get It Done Each Day

Every morning this November I woke up with a goal: to write and to upload. If I do those two things, it was a great day!

I had 30 great days in November.

Sure, there were many shitty moments during the month, but the end goal was always achieved. If you want a reason to pat yourself on the back, be consistent with something every day. It doesn’t have to be a hard thing, it can be super easy.

Write a paragraph every day. That’s SOOO achievable. Not every day did I write 5,000 words. Few days I wrote less than 500 and was done. But there were days where I wrote over 5,000. It doesn’t matter how much I did, it evens out eventually, but what matters is that I keep doing it.

 

7. Waking Up Early Didn’t Work

This project was not all successes. Over the 30 days, I was hoping to develop the habit of waking up 1 hour earlier than usual. In theory, that hour would be spent writing or some other productive pursuit. This would be incredibly useful during the week, as I have 9.5 hour days at the office. 1 hour would make a huge difference. I had a few wins here and there, but consistent I was not. This was not the way I will get an extra hour to write so I will have to find that extra hour somewhere else… 

 

8. Developed A Daily Plan

Every day, I knew exactly where I was going to be, who I was going to meet up with, and when I was going to write and edit my video. In another word, my day was structured. This was not what daily vlogging was meant for, but it was the only way I could get through it. I used my daily vlog as a breakdown for my day. Then I went through my day and got b-roll footage. The b-rolls became the little snapshots of my life.

At the very beginning of the project, I said that this will not be a writing project or a video creation project, but rather a time management project. This is how I approached it. If I wanted to have a video uploaded at the end of the day, I need to know where I will be having dinner that night. If at a restaurant, I’ll need to edit beforehand. If at home, I’ll edit while my Costco food heated up in the oven. Thrilling behind the scenes details here.

 

9. Don’t Overthink It, But Don’t Ramble

My least favourite part of this whole project was pointing the camera on myself and speaking. I hate it because, I feel that I’m bad at it, so I get in my head and psych myself out. This happens every day. I continuously psych myself out until I do it… then I feel relieved for about 24 hours.

I also wanted to challenge myself and do at least one episode a week in public. I did 8 out of 30 in public with strange normal people around. This increased my nervousness by another 30-40%.

The more I practiced the less I psyched myself out. It became routine. I didn’t overthink it the same way I don’t overthink speaking up at a meeting at work when I had something to say. I’m am just myself talking.

However, I learned that it’s better to pause and say nothing and to think at times, even when the camera is rolling. A common annoying habit I noticed was that I kept repeating myself just so I can keep talking, keeping the action going. I rambled when I can just take a moment to breathe, refocus and continue with a new thought.

 

 

10. Vancouver’s Weather Is Weird (I knew this all along)

I always knew Vancouver is a city where it can be raining in the morning, sunny in the afternoon and storming at night.

I didn’t know that in addition to documenting my writing and day-to-day life, I was also documenting the city I live in. I love that. I didn’t want to display the city I lived in, because I was initially wary about privacy, but over time I realized that the city was as much a part of my life as the people and the story I was writing. Seeing my mood coincided with the weather was either a juxtaposition or representation of what was happening. It brought an element to my life I wasn’t expecting to capture.

 

Now, I’m certain I learned more than 10 things from this project, and over time, I’m sure the lessons will materialize. While many things can be taught, commitment cannot. You cannot learn to commit to something from reading a book or watching someone else. Commitment is something you need to practice. That is what this project allowed me to do — practice.

 

Did you participate in NaNoWriMo, now what do you do with your draft? Click here to find out. 

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Best to worst communities on social media

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Where to post, comment, and get the response you want

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published in the Other Press. October 16, 2015

Online communities bring people together, and they also tear them apart. So, often we delete accounts, block “friends,” and end up arguing with a troll over something that doesn’t even matter. Social media has become the Wild West, a lawless avenue for people to act horribly, and then defend themselves with crude language and bad grammar. In this article, I’ll look at my experience with the most popular social networks and examine how we behave when things are at their best and worst.

Reddit: There is an organized chaos to Reddit that is beautiful. People who are active on the network govern each other quite effectively. While identity does not ever need to be revealed, the “karma” system gives everyone power. It’s democracy at its finest. Every person has the right to vote up or down a post, link, or comment. This means bullshit sinks to the bottom and only the best is left on top. It’s a great place to get an honest opinion—brutally honest—without much hostility.

LinkedIn: Things never really get bad on LinkedIn, but it never really gets that great either. Now and then someone will write a very thoughtful recommendation for you or endorse one of your skills, but it’s never the place to get into any serious debate. It’s a professional community, and it demands respect. It does that effectively by making every commenter, poster, and even viewer accountable for his or her actions. You can’t creep your ex-girlfriend’s LinkedIn page without her knowing. Overall, you are always safe on LinkedIn, as safe as you would be at a networking event.

Facebook: If LinkedIn is a networking event, Facebook is a full-blown party. I don’t need to go into detail about what Facebook is, but literally anything can happen when such a wide variety of emotions collide. Some people are trying to impress everyone. Some are trying to get sympathy. Some are trying to get others to do something or “like” something. Yep, it’s a party all right. You’ll be okay on Facebook if you are genuine. Beware, though. Since Facebook encompass people within your circle, their honesty might hurt you in real life. A bit of censorship is advised.

Twitter: Twitter allows you to target the rich and famous, as well as your own lowly followers, and reach out to all of them. Twitter is effective, but it has to be earned. You have to climb the Twitter ladder. Once you have power (i.e., a top-notch Klout score), you need to wield it responsibly. Failure to do so, or tweeting 140 characters that don’t fit others’ points-of-view will be met with a barrage of responses. The good stuff is highlighted, but the bad stuff will not be ignored on Twitter.

YouTube: I don’t know what it is about videos that causes people to be such unsophisticated, racist, sexist, and offensive assholes. But they do. If you post a video on YouTube, it might just end up being forgotten deep in the rabbit hole of user-generated content, or it’ll go viral and you’ll have to answer for it. Haters are going to hate, and, believe me, like how a stagnant pond in July breeds mosquitoes, YouTube breeds classless idiots with little good to say.

In and out of the net

Image via Thinkstock

What has the Internet turned us into?

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published by The Other Press. March 23, 2015

When we think of the Internet we think about the free flowing traffic between us and endless information and connections. Without having to put on shoes or brush our teeth we can go shopping, hang out with our friends, attend a course, and watch a movie. That is the Internet we know of.

As our dependency on the World Wide Web increases and technology advances, the Internet becomes more than a research data base, social meet-up, and entertainment resource. Like a plant growing fast and wild, branches and roots stray off in directions away from our periphery. The Internet is also now a cliquey underground society fulfilling the needs of those who want smut, drugs, and other products not readily available at Wal-Mart.

The dawn of the Internet—sometime during the late ‘90s—changed the face and other body parts of the pornography industry and the way criminals corresponded, exchanging insight. Remember when free porn was like a hidden gem and “how to make a bomb” articles were the red flag keywords?

As the web progressed, leaked photographs, stolen identities, and bootlegging have become the norm. We are no longer fazed by these wrongdoings. We condemn them, sure, but the lawlessness of the Internet does not institute any repercussions. Click away, delete, or access a different hard drive and we’ll be safe. As the law tries to end torrent sharing sites such as Pirate Bay, it seems they may never stop the numerous illegal acts occurring on the Deep Web, an area of the Internet not indexed by standard search engines.

As of 2001, the Deep Web was believed to occupy a space 400 to 500 times larger than the Internet we normally access, our surface web. Here are some numbers that might give you a better idea: over 10 years ago, the size of the Deep Web was estimated to be about 92,000 terabytes, which is 92,000,000 gigabytes. But all the numbers are merely speculation, because there is no real way to measure it. What makes the Deep Web worrisome to some? Well, can you imagine a physical place where you can buy a quarter gram of Afghan heroin, various firearms, fake identification, and hire an assassin? No? Well, on the Internet, there are hundreds and thousands of places.

The way we make money has changed thanks to the Internet. The way I make money is through content creation. I write marketable copy for different companies from tech to arts. My job would not exist without the Internet. However, many are choosing different avenues online to make a living as well: e-commerce, SaaS, and monetized user generated content. The last one in the list is interesting, because people can literally sell a show from the comforts of their own home. It can be a video blog like the kind you watch on YouTube, it can be a video game commentary like the kind you see on Twitch, and it can be pornography like the kind you find on MyFreeCams. There is literally a platform for any kind of entertainment you want to produce, and you can make a living doing it. Just try to avoid using public library as your settings.

It’s horribly clear that today we can only truly know a person by understanding their search history. The fact that Google has more information about us than our friends and family says a lot. Our relationships, our knowledge, and the life we’ve created are now a few gigabytes on the Internet. And that is how significant we’ll continue to be as the web, like the universe, continues to expand.

‘The Interview’ aftermath

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What Sony, North Korea, and hackers taught us about movies

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published in The Other Press. January 6, 2015

Terrorist threats, computer hackers, and harsh critics have all failed in killing The Interview this holiday season.

While the North Korean government is still bitter over the Christmas release, viewers rejoice knowing that we can all move on to award season without further controversy from the lacklustre film. Our freedom is still intact. We watched a movie without being executed. We won—sort of.

After all the buzz and scare, it’s safe to say that the movie will become a forgettable political satire. The Interview was pretty much Pineapple Express with a sympathetic villain, Kim Jong-Un. I’m not sure what the terrorists and hackers expected, perhaps a defamatory representation of their “god,” but the fact that they made us worried—even for a little bit—is a violation of our rights. For a moment there, we were intimidated. And we should never be intimidated in such a coercive manner.

Obviously President Obama’s statements after Sony pulled The Interview from theatres will not be the most memorable moment of his term, but it’s good to see that they wasn’t bypassed either. Censorship is a dangerous power, especially in a society that harbours freedom of speech. Enabling some foreign government to control our right to document, report, and create art to establish discourse is something every media company should be wary of, but shouldn’t give in to.

The whole scenario is a laughable one now, perhaps even funnier than the movie itself. I hope that Sony is no longer afraid of North Korea, and I hope other private media companies have learned from the incident and fortified their networks as well.

The fact that a movie can be considered a threat says a lot about that nation and the fact that we wavered when threats were uttered says a lot about us too. However, we’ve rebounded with grace and innovation, even teaching some of us to purchase and rent movies via online streams; meanwhile North Korea is shooting insults at the American president, using racial slurs and poor turns of phrase.

Although it was a bit annoying, it was also reassuring to see all the support on social media after The Interview was pulled from major theatre chains. It’s good to know that so many people out there understood the circumstances. It’s good to know that we are not easily swayed by terrorist threats. Sure safety is paramount, but doing something just because someone has a gun to our head is cowardly.

But then again, perhaps Sony already knew about all this. Perhaps, it was all a big publicity stunted written by a supreme leader and orchestrated by a corporate behemoth. The Interview will forever live in infamy. There will be college courses teaching the events of this film in years to come. Maybe Sony knew this. After all, the movie made over $15-million during the holiday weekend and ranks number one in online Sony films.

The Interview was not a threat; it’s a cinema-distributing pioneer. Because of it, YouTube and Google Play are now big players in the feature motion picture game. If there is going to be a censorship war, it’s going to take place in cyberspace, not in the movie theatre.

What Sales Pitches, Interviews, and Stand-up Comedy Have in Common – and Why It Matters

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There are certain employment epochs I remember fondly.

Through those experiences, I had the opportunity to learn a bit about myself, as well as a certain skill set. But looking back now, regardless of the job, one component always stood out: attentiveness.

It didn’t matter if I was trying to convince someone to sponsor a needy child, seduce someone into telling me their life story, or simply make a crowd of people laugh, being aware of my environment was consistently instrumental towards my success.

Some jobs you can bury your head and work, but not mine. It’s important to look up once in awhile and see how the world is reacting. Then assess: should I stay the course? Or should I get the hell out of Dodge?

 

MAY THE ODDS BE WITH YOU

When I went about knocking door to door, canvassing for World Vision, I recognized that although I meant no harm, I was still an annoyance. People did not want to be disrupted during primetime television, they didn’t want to listen to my sales pitch, and they definitely were not inclined to open their wallets at the door.

I can gauge in approximately 1.3 seconds whether the big beefy guy with a frown on his face is interested, or whether the sweet old lady with a smile is actually listening—or if she just wanted company; if so, to indulge her would be to trick her.

A good sales pitch is not one that tricks people into purchase—it’s not a performance, it’s not robotic. It’s a conversation. When the door opens or when the customer walks in, that’s your opportunity to educate and engage. And that is done through proper interpersonal communication, not necessarily with showmanship or razzle dazzle.

The best way to make a sale is by recognizing whether the person can actually afford it in their lifestyle; in other words, are they worthy of sponsoring a kid, buying a toaster, owning a Ford Fiesta, etc.? You should be helping them. Lose the stress of the quota and listen.

Engage in a humanistic way. Don’t be afraid to talk about yourself as a person, not salesman. A good salesperson takes the time to interact with the consumer, and not simply play the odds. Why do you yourself believe it’s a worthwhile cause? Before you can sell something to anybody, you must first be able to sell it to yourself. And then you roll the dice and see if the door slams in your face or not. No hard feelings if it does.

 

LISTENING MORE IMPORTANT THAN ASKING

As an interviewer, people always expect me to come with an arsenal of questions. And I do. I write down as many possible questions I can think of, some pertinent, some filler, but on the day, I set those questions aside. The questions I prepared become a crutch. I’ll use them only if there is a moment of silence that needs to be filled. Aside from that, I do without the questions, the same way an actor forgoes the script when it’s show time.

Imagine arriving at a house party with a notebook full of questions to ask the guests. You wouldn’t sit down with someone and automatically start quizzing him or her on his or her life, right? So don’t do that in a professional interview either.

Before you start with the five W’s they taught you in J-school, consider asking this question: How’s it going? Establishing a rapport is fundamental to a good interview. Odds are the person will say something to trigger your interest and then your curiosity will take over.

A strong sense of discovery will guide your interview, not your prepared questions. A common mistake is focusing too much on what you want to ask and not what your subject is actually saying. Take notes if you must, use a recording device, but above all else have a genuine conversation. After all, as an interviewer you are attempting to tell a story, and stories, at the heart of it, are about relationships.

You can approach an interview with zero questions prepared if you are actually curious about your subject. Questions will come. With that being said, do prepare some stock questions, since some interviewees are nervous, busy, or simply less inclined to offer effective sound bites and insightful responses.

 

KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE

As a stand-up comedian, I learned that not every audience will relate to your jokes, but that doesn’t mean they can’t find you funny. A good comedian is one that can adjust to the crowd and is funny through their personality and wit, rather than something scripted and rehearsed. You cannot force a group of people to laugh at you, but you can earn their likings, and that happens through dialogue.

I believe stand-up comedy is a dialogue. I’m not saying you should ever encourage the audience to heckle or argue with you. However, imagine a conversation with someone, but instead of having a response in words, it’s a response through laughter. Laughter is validation. But it can only come through if you understand your audience. This goes for all other form of public speaking.

I remember lectures I had in college where the instructors would just go on and on about whatever. Clearly I learned nothing. But the reason I can’t remember anything is because they couldn’t connect with me. They never looked up from their notes to ask, “Elliot, you get what I am saying?”

For comedians, the presence of laughter is affirmation. For public speakers, an absence of coughing is affirmation. Learn to read your audience and ask for a response if they are refusing to offer it. It’s a dialogue; there is no fourth wall.

Odds are, you are not the only person presenting at any given time, whether you are a comedian, a presenter, or the best man giving a speech at a wedding. In most occasions there is an opportunity for you to acknowledge your audience before you hit the stage.

In comedy, for example: if a comedian before you had made a similar joke to the one you’re about to do, measure whether the audience enjoyed it. If it received a lackluster response, consider swapping it—even if it might mess up your entire set. Don’t be stubborn when you know something wouldn’t work. Is the audience here to actively engage with you or are they just forced to be there and you happen to be on stage?

You don’t need to be the showstopper, but you should at the very least be memorable. Otherwise there is no reason for you to be on stage.

Whether you are selling, interviewing, or just trying to make a group of people laugh, the art of interaction is a two-sided rally. You might do the majority of the speaking, but when you aren’t, you better be listening.

 

For more information about workplace and hireable skills please check out Webucator’s Most Marketable Skills project. Presentation extends further than a strong speaking voice, and in today’s world, there is a lot of demand for hard technique skills in addition to the soft ones. If you are looking to upgrade your PowerPoint (and other MS Office applications) I recommend trying out the free demo at Webucator.

Advertisement, a reason to sell-abrate

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An Opinions article brought to you by the ‘Other Press’

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published by The Other Press. March 18, 2014

I’m not an easy sell and I’m not a compulsive buyer. I can’t be—I wouldn’t survive if I was.

I work hard to earn my money and I choose to spend it on the things that I enjoy and with the people who I like. But I’m also reasonable; I budget wisely and do my best to avoid falling into debt. Many may consider it a marketers versus us game of tug-of-war with our paycheques, but I don’t see it that way.

I appreciate advertisements, because they aren’t pick-pocketing me on a busy street. They’re presenting the value of a brand in a way that might or might not attract my attention. Sure, advertisements are biased and appeal on many different levels, but as someone who understands the value of a dollar, you better appeal to me or I’m not buying.

Advertisers are not competing against us, but against other brands. So where some people say there’s too much product placement, I say good. It should be survival of the fittest. After all, advertising is art with a clear purpose.

I know it’s annoying to sit through those five seconds of commercial before your YouTube video, and I know it sucks to listen to the rambling of voices attempting to sell you something on the radio when all you want is some Beyoncé, but the alternative is having to pay for the services. God forbid I cough up my lunch money for a monthly subscription of YouTube, Google, Facebook, or any other free-to-use platforms that sustain themselves on advertisements. If you ask me, I think we are getting a pretty sweet deal.

Companies hate spending money on advertisements, and they hate it as much as we do when those ads are ineffective and annoying. Brands need to know their audience better and thanks to the technology of search engines, they are getting improved results.

I hope one day all marketing strategies will be targeted advertisements. If you show me something I actually want, I’ll appreciate it; if you show me something that is completely useless to me, like a diaper commercial, I’m just going to wait patiently for the baby to finish falling over and acting cute.

It does feel a little bit like Big Brother, knowing everything you do is recorded by a league of marketers. Still, if Big Brother knows that I’m searching “how to fix my plumbing” on YouTube, then Big Brother can rightly assume that I’ll need to find a good hardware store nearby, as well.

Our privacy is compromised regardless. Don’t be fooled, even your dirty Snapchat pictures can be recovered if you tried hard enough. But this is just the world we live in now and we can’t meet every technology and intelligence with paranoia.

Public places used to be train stations, shopping malls, office buildings, and school campuses, but now the Internet is a public setting as well. Advertisements are going to extend from the billboards you see on the streets to the iPhone app you look at before you go to bed. Embrace it. Adapt to it. And celebrate that we live in a time where we have a choice—because we are the ones with the power, not the brands.

How the Sacred Movie-watching Experience Survived the First Round of Extinction

When I graduated from film school in 2008, the landscape of the entertainment industry was changing, morphing with the technology and trying to catch up to new innovations.

Young filmmakers, like myself, anticipated the expiration of television and were just starting to accept all that YouTube had to offer. Meanwhile, grand cinematic spectacles were calling attention, i.e. Avatar in 3D. Yes, it seems as though there was going to be a whole spectrum of viewing habits.

But will movie watching experience be as sacred as church? Or was it going to be a secular pastime, one we try to catch up on like talking to an old friend at a party or a novel on our nightstand?

Inspired by the recent Oscars, I give you the five nominated movie-watching experiences as voted by me—nope, not movies, but movie watching experiences.

NETFLIX

For a while Canadians were reluctant to subscribe to Netflix, mostly out of envy—subscribers from the States were getting more than three times the content—but the on-demand-movie-and-television service suggested that if more people join Netflix, the more content it can generate, both by hammering out legalities through traditional licensing models and by producing their own shows.

House of Cards, Orange is the New Black and Arrested Development won many viewers over, and once they got hooked to the binge watching lure of Netflix—it’s not so easy to quit.

TORRENT/STREAMING

The pirated movie and television distribution market is competitive market, albeit an illegal and risky market. With memories of Megaupload still fresh in many downloaders and streamers’ mind, this well-known paradigm is still one that most are treading lightly on.

While many consider this method to be a hassle, others consider it the most reasonable. Viewers are paying by sending traffic to the hosting sites, dealing with pop-up ads and the occasional glitches in download and streams. “Just let it buffer!”

The “no honour among thieves” mentality lives on in this movie watching experience that have existed since the dawn of the digital era. As long as the leaches and seeders continue feeding off of each other, this category will not disappear anytime soon to the chagrin of the big media companies.

APPLE TV and WEB-ENABLED TELEVISION

Bridging the gap from your phone and computer to the television—this relatively new all-in-one model is bringing viewers back to the couch. At least that was the plan.

Unfortunately I don’t know many people who use Apple TV, or even consider getting it. The living room battleground is a tough one to win, even for a trusted brand like Apple. After all, just look at all the different boxes and consoles you have under the television. Needless to say, there is still a lot of convincing needed to prove that cable is obsolete and that the video game consoles won’t suffice. But I think that is just a matter of time.

REDBOX

Since the closure of many video rental stores, Redbox have been the alternative. Standing tall, proud and unobtrusively at a grocery store, the video vending machine offers hot new DVD releases the same way ol’ Blockbuster used to. Comforting to many and laughable to some, Redbox fulfills a service that is still in demand.

As a result of having a secret Santa that no longer cared for the physical medium, I received an arm full of DVDs and BluRay last Christmas. I still relish the nostalgia of DVDs. Seems like just yesterday my family was arguing whether to buy a HD DVD player or a BluRay player, I’m still not sure if we made the right decision. Unlike VHS, DVDs have a bit more to offer in terms of bonus features. And they are compatible enough to remain an impulse buy. But being compared to VHS is never a good thing.

MOBILE

We watch movies everywhere: in bed, at work, on the bus, at a coffee shop, on the john and even in the movie theatre waiting for the movie to start. Personally, I can’t watch a three-hour movie the same way I check my Tweets. But content on the go is what the public wants.

Last year’s study by Motorola Mobility’s Fourth Annual Media Engagement Barometer showed that 55% of smartphone or tablet owners have downloaded and stored movies and TV shows onto their devices. There is so much content in the world that if we were to spend every living moment watching something new, we would not do anything else. Mobile devices are fostering that challenge and allowing people to consume on the go, in addition to hoarding content.

As much as filmmakers want to get people into the theatre, they must also consider the other audiences, and choose to whether nurture the new platforms or not. We’ve come a long way in five years—who knows where we’ll be in another.

The Social Media 15 Minutes Of Fame: How Our Online Behaviour Might Be Our Generation’s Legacy

Every now and then a new Internet craze will crowd our desktops. We will try to ignore it like banner ads, but still we end up being sucked in by the gravitational forces of memes and viral trends like neknomination, Harlem Shake, and flash mobs.

Although we might not (want to) participate in those sometimes disdainful, sometimes obnoxious and usually downright embarrassing acts, our culture is influenced greatly. It takes permanent snapshot of the times we are living in, and allows us to revisit it occasionally. These fads come and go like flu season, it seizes a few lives, ruin some reputations and paves way for the next phenomenon. The thing is, nobody ever starts a trend with a bad intention—sure they get out of hand—but it’s often rooted in good old fun or visions of stardom: to peer pressure or to find the 15 minutes of fame (shame).

With a public uproar against neknomination, there is no doubt that the online drinking game’s sustaining power is petering out, just like the way Harlem Shake, flash mobs, planking, and Kony 2012 eventually faded from our memory. They do a little bit of good and a little bit of damage, and remind us that nothing on the Internet should ever be taken lightly. It is a community we are all living in; the drunks, the slacktivist, the trolls, and the brilliant thought leaders, sadly there are more of the formers than there are of the latter.

So how can we, the well-minded individuals, find the higher ground, avoid embarrassment and save face (and our Facebook account)?

First off, following in other’s footsteps in never a good way to gain acceptance. You show everyone that you are a victim to peer pressure, that you are easily swayed and that you don’t have much creativity within yourself to come up with anything new. So understand your purpose for following others initiatives. Are you trying to fulfill some social obligation or are you trying to get more traction onto your site by harnessing something popular?

If the answer leads you to feel optimistic about the project, go ahead create it, but then hold it, allow the initial excitement to simmer down. Watch it critically.

Then think about your online persona; how do you socialize with your network? Do you speak your mind when you see something you disagree with or do you just let it pass? This will effect how your followers will react to your posting. You might have a target audience in mind, but your unsavory video or picture might turn the majority off. Share it privately; get feedback, not approval. It might be worth the laugh, but it might not.

Finally, consider your real-life entity, how do you as a person interact with other real life people? List the top ten people you interact with daily and consider how they would feel about your YouTube escapade. Your reputation will potentially affect them, so it’s only respectful to keep them in mind. Suddenly, what you have made might not be as golden as you initially thought.

Self-awareness will keep on solid ground, even on the Internet. Trends are established all the time, but few have sustaining power. What is more powerful than trend is a personality that is what you want to foster. Nobody cares what you do, but how you do it.

However, if you do still want your 15 minutes of fame, and you want to ride the coat tails of a neknomination, Harlem Shake or flash mob—try the counter trend method; turn the self-indulgent act into a selfless act, like what many are doing for neknomination, daring other to be charitable, by showcasing their kind deeds on the Internet.

But what’s done is done, neknomination is now in the rear view mirror, but let’s learn from this momentous moment in the history of the Internet. Say to yourself: “When the next trend comes along, I’ll use the power for good, and not to show off my ability to drink, dance or make my broskies laugh. Amen.”

Vidoyen Offers Answers Without the Hassle of Reading

Formerly published by Techvibes. 

Toronto-based Vidoyen is innovating the way we exchange knowledge through social media.

Amidst all the rambling rants, self-brags, and gossips comes trustworthy and stimulating video content from experts in the world of politics, business, academics and other respected professions.

“We [Vidoyen] are like TedTalk meets Twitter,” founder and CEO of Vidoyen, Arshia Tabrizi explains to Techvibes. “We are a site that provides two-minute videos that’ll inform and inspire. And for the experts we have built a custom social media platform for them to engage with their audience in a much more authentic way.”

We are all bombarded with information and content daily. There is an overwhelming amount noise out there; on social media platforms where there are no moderators or curators, it’s often the loudest voices that get heard—and they aren’t necessary the most valuable.

Vidoyen has filtered out the nonsense and assembled a group of contributors with expertise. These contributors are selected through an application process where certain aspects are assessed including established reputation and knowledge in a particular field. Unlike YouTube and other user-generated content sites, Vidoyen only publishes videos with helpful and reliable answers to compelling and sometimes complicated questions.

“Anybody who is busy would not want to spend a lot of time scouring the Internet,” said Tabrizi. “They want smart, short-form video content that they can trust.”

Vidoyen has developed a one spot create, review and share platform, which allows both the creators and audience to push the content out to all social media channels. While the questions for the experts can be complex, the usability and the content must be short and simple.

“People are tired of reading text,” said Tabrizi. “We are constantly reading stuff on our mobile phone—a lot of reading devices have small screens—so no matter what we do it’s still hard on the eye. People are looking for different kinds of media to consume. We believe that video is great for communicating and retaining information in the way that distinguishes itself from text.”

On a text-heavy planet, it’s easy to disconnect ourselves from the people around us. Often times we forget that there is another person on the other side of a text message or an email thread. Vidoyen stresses the value of personalities and the significance it adds to the information and opinions being offered. The tiny human element that is often lost in words can be captured in video, especially when you witness the passion behind the person speaking about a subject that really matters to them.

The Internet has become a megaphone for people with something to say, but the freedom of speech has lowered the standard of legitimacy. While some are shouting into the void of YouTube, others can be found on Vidoyen chiming in and offer their insights to questions worth answering and commentary worth hearing.

“We insure quality,” said Tabrizi, “we are about quality over quantity.”

For those who wish to contribute to Vidoyen the next round applications will be opened until December 15.

Uploaded: a profile of Andrew Huang

Formerly published in Ricepaper Magazine.

by ELLIOT.CHAN on Apr 27, 2013 • 4:23 pm

Andrew Huang’s musical mystique is an exploration. Different environments conjure different personalities, different auras and different sounds. Like a chameleon, he is able to instinctually morph to suit his surrounding, whether it is the soulful rhythm of a heartbreaking ballad or the fast-pace delivery of a tongue-tying rap song. One scroll down Huang’s YouTube channel and you could witness his musical range.

“I made my YouTube account in 2006,” he said, “just because I thought I should have one. But I didn’t put anything on it right away.” Now with over 260 videos, Huang had fully embraced the platform and not only does he consider it to be a jumping board to higher achievement, he feels YouTube might just be the next grand artistic movement. “I started seeing how fast an audience can grow there, because there was already a community. It started making sense.”

Limitation is the stratosphere determined by artists’ platforms. While some are trapped within a glass jar, Huang feels he could reach the stars with his creative freedom. Marching to his own beat, he focuses his attention away from creative roadblocks such as administrative, logistical work. “If I want to upload 10 videos in a month, I can do that. You can publish stuff anytime you want,” he said, “and anyone on the Internet can just stumble upon it.”

Despite all the fun, it is still a livelihood. The business demands a lot of him and the effort it takes to produce a product do not always yield a gratifying or satisfying profit. Huang is a brand, and he understands the dark side to marketing. “The question of how much you can get back from it is a question of how much you can engage a community and reach new people,” he said, “At the end of the day, I can be doing the exact same amount of work, but for whatever reason I get twice the subscriber base and in theory there would be twice the people downloading my songs.”

The Internet is an intimidating place, especially when artists are uploading such vulnerable pieces of work. Huang takes chances—a lot of them. Although he is fueled by positive reinforcement, a negative comment can drain the tank pretty quickly. Still, there are few put downs and snarky remarks that can keep Huang down. In a piece where he took a viewer’s ideas to use a 1000 pairs of jeans to formulate a song, he was met with a sarcastic comment asking, “how much time do you have?” To which Huang replied, “24 hours in a day like everyone else… I just have a more interesting job.”

“If you are getting any amount of views on YouTube, it is hard to avoid those hateful and ignorant comments,” said Huang, “I usually ignore it and focus on the positive. But every once in a while someone will bring up a point that I feel is good to response to.”

Feedback is vital to all artists and the same goes for Huang. But he doesn’t allow it to interrupt his creative progress. While writing a song or filming a video, the little critiquing voice in the back of his head can be an asset and a torment. “This part of the video someone is going to make fun of or the fact that I decided to wear this, someone is going to call me a name,” he said, “These things occur to me, but I don’t change the work I am doing because of those thoughts.” Huang takes compliments and criticisms when they come, but none of it is precious.

Forward is the only direction for Huang. Moving from one project to the next, he has few motives except to create. “The stuff that I’m most proud of I’ll go back… I mean I’m proud of most of it, but the stuff I really love—it is nice to be able to enjoy it from a distance,” he said. “But for a lot of it when it is done, I am ready to move on to the next project.”

But being so prolific comes with its own downfall, and for Huang it’s organization. “I love having an organized space,” he said, “but the actual sorting out where things have to go and cleaning up. And organizing in terms of events and productions.” Being a jack-of-all-trades requires him to juggle many tasks at once from printing CDs and vinyl to corresponding with other artists for collaboration projects. “It has to be done, so I do it.” If Huang isn’t bouncing from one instrument to the next in his studio, he’s on the Internet, rather emailing or searching up the latest trends.

Creativity and curiosity is the air Huang breathes. From the computer to the microphone to different instruments, if there is a blockage in inspiration, all he has to do is shift gears and keep going. “I enjoy so many different types of things,” he said, “I’m working in video and music, but I’m also doing different types of music and video. Within the world I work in different genres. The fact that there are so many different things I could be doing keeps me from those creative blocks. It’s a constant state of creativity or emailing.”

As a morning person, Huang takes advantage of the longer day, spending anywhere from eight to 12 hours being creative. But despite working such long hours, his craft is still an unknown. “It’s kind of tricky,” he described the complexity of explaining his work in a social situation, “It depends on the type of person I’m talking to. I might introduce myself as an independent musician or I might introduce myself as an Internet content creator. Or I just call myself a musician.” Regardless of what Huang sees himself as, it is always a process communicating his job to others. “I make YouTube videos for a living,” he said with an air of pride, “but there are certain preconceived notions of what that can mean.”

The Internet is a forest of celebrities, from great Sequoias to plain Danaes. With acres upon acres of content to explore, Huang believes it is the new world of entertainment. “All these people who have hundred of thousands and millions subscribers, they aren’t on TV, they aren’t in the magazines, they can walk down the street and not be recognized,” he smiled about the oasis he created for himself, “maybe one day it’ll be more than saying, oh I make stuff for the Internet.”