DIGITAL MEDIA FROM THE INSIDE OUT: My focus is digital content -- production, distribution, collaboration, innovation, creativity. Some posts have appeared across the web (HuffPo, Tribeca's Future of Film, The Wrap, MIPblog, etc.). To receive these posts regularly via email, sign up for my newsletter here.

Entries in socialmedia (2)


• Introducing #NGIF: Nick's Great Information Friday

One of the first widespread uses of the #hashtag convention on Twitter was #FollowFriday, a goofy, but effective way to spread the love all over one's favorite fellow "tweeps." Kind of a #TGIF for the twitterati.

In tribute to this enduring social media meme, I'm starting #NGIF, or Nick's Great Information Friday, in which I shall review my favorite tweets of the previous week.


Well, mainly because it’s so easy to miss the good stuff. Services like Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and other social networks are "life streams” – you must be on the shore watching as the information flows by.

Twitter and the others offer filtering systems that help (Lists, Circles, etc.). Even better  third-party tools automate curation and discovery in useful ways (Summify and Zite are my current favorites. And of course, we all subscribe to newsletters to get information shoved into our crowded in-boxes.

Which brings me back to #NGIF, my humble attempt to call your attention to some interesting items to chew over after a busy week. 

Transmedia & Story Telling

It’s only natural that transmedia storytelling was on my mind this week, since I attended two events (#DIYDAYS and StoryWorld Conference), and posted my thoughts as “Stories and Worlds: What the Transmedia Movement has to Teach… (and to Learn)” which appeared here on my blog and was published today on Tribeca’s Future of Film

I also learned a lot from Dan Levy’s coverage of #swc: “Finding the Story: Five Lessons from StoryWorld 2011

Brian Clark, who was everywhere at #swc, began a series of posts this week on transmedia business models at Henry Jenkins’ blog to spark a debate among practitioners about how to use lessons from past movements to move beyond what he calls the “patronage” model. This post will become more valuable over time, so bookmark it. I have.

Along the way, as is often the case, I turned to Quora during the course of my writing, only to discover a really interesting thread called “Storytelling: How will the craft of storytelling change in the future? 

Social Media

I was preparing a presentation to a group of college film and television professors about the future of television this week and, like many pundits, used the phrase “the social graph,” which is how Facebook describes the extended grid of people and brands generated by your voluntary associations and behaviors. No wonder this post on the Pinboard blog by Maciej Ceglowski stood out: “The Social Graph is Neither."

Click to read more ...



Nearly a week after reading James Rainey’s LA Times column about the death of privacy — occasioned by the launch of a new celebrity-spotting website called JustSpotted — I’m still mulling over the issues he raised and, in turn, the feelings and memories that followed.

JustSpotted is a site that scrapes the web, mainly Twitter and Facebook, for celebrity sightings posted by average people, along with published reports, and mashes them up with photos on a map. Fans can sign up (naturally) to receive updates of fave celebs, along with the usual social rigmarole involved with Web 2.0 sites.

Rainey (@LATimesrainey) sees JustSpotted as just one more symptom of invasive social media that is taking over (and ruining) life as we know it. He takes 1,200 words to describe, often deftly, the evidence pouring in from all fronts to prove that this trend of public transparency has gone too far, sparking a counter-rebellion against social media.

Among other factoids, he sites a recent Malcolm Gladwell New Yorker article,  Gawker's celebrity stalker site, a new $250-million Kleiner, Perkins venture fund for social media, David Fincher’s “The Social Network” movie, a Bournemouth University experiment to unplug students, and quotes an author, Daniel Keen, whose book about privacy "Digital Vertigo" will come out soon.

It would be easy to draw a hard line between him as a Luddite and the future-oriented techno-pioneers. There have always been those who resist change. And there have always been evangelists, touting the wonders of new technologies. Lord knows I myself have exploited  the fears of traditional media folk who are afraid of falling behind the pace of change.


But this is a false dichotomy, especially with somebody like Rainey. The guy is no Luddite, and too good a reporter to be dismissed.

Who among us, after all, has not felt some unease with the degree of openness made so easy by the ubiquity of social media tools? Not the truly horrifying Oh-My-God! Moments, like a friend of mine last week who uploaded the “wrong” iPhoto album to Facebook, and worried that some afterimage of the inappropriate might live on in cyberspace, even though he had immediately deleted the offending photos. It’s like hitting the send button on an angry email — cyber-regret.

Rainey’s form of regret and concern can most easily be spotted amongst what marketers might charitably refer to as “the older demographic” — basically, gray-haired Boomers like me. Many of my friends boycott the entire web 2.0 phenomenon, save perhaps the viewing of YouTube videos. They don’t “friend” on Facebook or tweet or comment or otherwise exhibit online behavior that could bring them into this seamless digital lifestyle that Rainey dislikes and mistrusts. They are happy with email and phone calls.

I count myself as an exception to my demographic, and indeed, by most accounts, there are millions of us at this point. In my case, I’ve always been an early adopter of new technologies. If it’s new, I try it, and I have the dead devices and dormant accounts for Applelink,Friendfeed, Friendster, NetNewsWire, GeoCities, The Palace, The Wave – to name just a few -- to prove it.

As the winners in this round of the social media battle began to emerge, I have gotten very comfortable using a suite of fantastic tools which help me do the things I’ve done for decades, only better. It’s hard to imagine life without YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Linked-in and Flickr, not to mention iTunes, Amazon & Netflix.

The impact, of course, is a fairly extensive transformation of the old tools, things like TV, radio, records, movies, newspapers, etc. Smarter (and richer) guys 20 years ago predictred this when the digital revolution was just getting started.

And so why should celebrity be any different? Why should the rich and famous live in a protected bubble when the rest of us aren’t. Moreover, I would maintain that the core impulse at work here – the strange and unsavory mechanisms of fame and fandom – are the same as they have always been. I know. I’ve been there, too.

Let me say that, at this point in my life, I’m not so interested in celebrities. I don’t watch a lot of reality TV, and I rarely check TMZ or Perez Hilton. This is true, in part, because I spent 20 years working for the American Film Institute, and I had the opportunity to encounter actors and other famous people on a regular and routine basis. It ain’t no big deal. If the walls could talk, I would have lost my job, actually. From the first sighting I ever had while on the AFI payroll (Red Buttons chatting with Billy Wilder and Patricia Neal at a dinner), I learned that our role was “collegial.” Stars don’t support nonprofits that act like fanzines.

The really funny celeb sightings over the years, both during and well before I ever worked in show business, are outside the star-making bubble – daily life, not red carpets and premieres, publicity junkets and fan events.

And, just like today’s tweeters and Facebookers, whose posts constitute the fodder of, I too enjoyed sharing my own little stardust epiphanies with friends — I literally “dined off this for a week,” as the old cliché goes. Some of my faves:

—World heavyweight champ Jerry Cooney, squeezing the cantaloupes (LOL) at a Bridgehampton produce stand.

—James Mason coming out of a Jewish deli.

—Grace Jones on Sixth Avenue walking two Borzoi dogs, flanked by gigantic bodybuilders.

—Karl Malden in line at Thrifty Drugs — using coupons.

—Shelley Winters in the pharmacy line at the old Schwab Drug Store on Sunset, getting what had to have been the largest container of Valium I’ve ever seen.

—Natalie Portman having martinis on the patio of the Chateau Marmont … with Lindsay Lohan … a week out of rehab.

You get the idea. That little frisson of recognition, followed quickly by a desire to share such privileged info, is nothing, if not human. The fact that digital technology enables this impulse to be acted upon instantly, and just as quickly to be processed by clever developers with nifty algorithms may not be quite as natural. But it’s hardly alien, and it’s not going to ruin the world as we know it.

Which is not to say there are no consequences to this stuff, as a lot of the perpetual new-media crowd seems to feel. The good old days weren’t so good, after all, they might say. And it’s true: the days of studio-controlled and manufactured “news” about celebrities, a la “Day of the Locust” or “L.A. Confidential” are gone for good.... good riddance!

But, I’m not sure the consequences will be the ones feared by Rainey, but then, I refuse to take a stand on the future. Prognostication is a mug’s game. Crystal-ball-gazing inevitably turns out to be wrong, though you couldn’t tell it from the web, where everyone is a seer, a literal army of prognosticators.

There’s even a website for it, called “Web of Fate”, described thusly:

Web of Fate is a social experiment that harnesses the collective intelligence of the web to visualize and uncover hidden relationships among future and historical events.

Please, if you would: Alert the media.