6 Life Lessons from SXSW

I spent six days in Austin enjoying the 2015 SXSW Film program. Like any conference that’s also a nonstop party, this year’s lineup was inspiring, informative, and over too soon. Here are six takeaways that stuck with me.

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“The cavalry is not coming.” – Mark Duplass

Sound depressing? Well, wait a second.

In his heartfelt keynote, writer-actor-director-producer Mark Duplass (Safety Not Guaranteed, Togetherness, The League) shared his step-by-step strategy for breaking into the movie business. It involves passion, practice, tenacity, and community. And if you do it well, you’ll craft a career in which you’re surrounded by people that you love to work with, telling singular stories that resonate deeply with your audience.

But he also cautioned that Hollywood will keep enticing you, and you’ll always think you’re one deal away from making it big… only for that latest deal to fall apart. And you’ll get frustrated, and you may even think about quitting, because here you are, doing your best work, and no one’s coming along to deliver you to the promised land of money and fame.

“When will the cavalry come for me?” you’ll ask yourself.

And then one day you’ll look in the mirror and you’ll realize you are the cavalry.

Because when you take the time to hone your voice, and build your community, and establish your reputation, you’re developing the power to achieve your vision without needing someone else’s validation.

BOOM.

Kind of reconfigures your whole plan, doesn’t it?

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Don’t confuse “no” with “never.”

Director Gina Prince-Bythewood (Love & Basketball, Beyond the Lights) applied to UCLA film school… but she didn’t get in. She thought they made a mistake, so she wrote a letter and made her case for admission.

She got in.

Later, she applied for a job on the sitcom A Different World… but didn’t get hired. When the guy who was hired instead of her didn’t pan out, she got back in touch with the powers that be and called and called and called and called them until they finally gave her a shot. She took it, and it launched her career.

The lesson? Just because one door closes, that doesn’t mean it’s locked.

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“Walk through the doors that open for you.” – Christine Vachon

Likewise, not every path to success is a straight line from A to B.

“If you want to work in narrative film, and someone offers you a job in documentary, take it.” That’s the advice of producer Christine Vachon (Boys Don’t Cry, I Shot Andy Warhol, Velvet Goldmine), who knows a thing or two about launching the careers of outsider voices.

So why take a seemingly counter-intuitive opportunity? Because once you’re “in,” your network expands and you’ll have more options — and you never know where those new options will lead. But if you don’t take that chance, you stay right where you are, waiting for the “perfect” opportunity… which may never come.

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Your idea of “success” may be different from the next person’s.

High Maintenance creators Ben Sinclair and Katja Blichfeld turned their DIY series into a critical hit. Vimeo was so impressed, they made the show their first flagship series. And yet, because Ben is a working actor, his fans wonder if his dedication to the series is holding him back from “bigger things.”

The catch?

“We love the people we make this show with so much, we always say we want to go off and start a commune with them.” That’s Sinclair’s summary of the working conditions on High Maintenance, a labor of love that he and Blichfeld have complete creative control over.

“Honestly,” says Sinclair, “unless I get a script that’s amazing, why would I spend time doing another project when I could be doing what I love?”

In other words: if you’re chasing a goal, make sure it’s one you want to reach.

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Seek out different perspectives.

Beau Willimon, the showrunner for Netflix’s House of Cards, was asked about the benefits of having a diverse writer’s room. He was quick to clarify that “diversity” isn’t about checking boxes; it’s about finding authentic voices with a variety of POVs.

“I look for people who can write stories I wouldn’t even be capable of imagining,” Willimon says. “And that’s because their backgrounds and their visions are so different from mine.”

Yes, the quality of the work is what ultimately matters. But the more memorable your individual voice becomes, the more likely you are to be heard.

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“Never stop learning.” – RZA

It’s been a long and varied career for RZA, whose love of rap music and martial arts films inspired him to found the legendary Wu-Tang Clan… which led to him composing film scores for Jim Jarmusch… which introduced him to Quentin Tarantino… which inspired him to become a director himself.

During the Q&A from his keynote, a fan asked him, “Given all your various influences, what’s next for you?”

“I’m studying Woody Allen,” said RZA.

The audience burst out laughing, but RZA was serious.

“Always be learning from genres and sources that have nothing to do with what you’re interested in, because you never know what you might learn that you can use. If you want to make a movie about New York gangs, go watch some French films. I just had my daughter watch Yentl. That’s a Barbra Streisand movie. But there’s something in there that she can use.”

Keep exploring.

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10 Things Every Freelancer Needs

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Some people dream of quitting their day jobs in order to freelance, but the fear of “what could go wrong” keeps them from making the jump.

I’ve done it twice now, once in 2005 and again in 2014. Both times, I did some things well and other things badly. And both times I loved the freedom, I hated the uncertainty, and I kept finding creative ways to move forward.

If you want to make a living freelancing but you’re worried about all the risks, these 13 tips for starting a freelance career by author Catherine Price are a great start. (She wrote them before the Affordable Care Act made health insurance less impossible for freelancers to find, but her other tips are timeless.)

Meanwhile, here are 10 other things that she didn’t mention — a.k.a., 10 mistakes NOT to make when you first start freelancing.

1. Have a nest egg.

No one jumps without a net unless they have to. In a perfect world, you should have a three month nest egg set aside… but let’s be honest: you probably don’t.

That’s okay.

Just start freelancing while you still have a day job, and use your initial freelance revenue to build your nest egg.

You want to have enough money set aside to cover at least one month’s expenses, but more is better. The longer you won’t have to worry about where your next month’s rent is coming from, the more relaxed and creative you’ll be and the more confidently you can pursue the gigs you want, rather than just taking whatever you can get.

2. Sign contracts.

“But I trust people.”

So do I, generally. But I still insist on signing a contract, even with clients I’ve worked with repeatedly. Not that every client you have will honor their contract (though I’ve never yet had one who didn’t). This is really about two things:

A) Making sure both parties know what their actual responsibilities are, and

B) Providing you both with peace of mind in case things do go wrong.

No one wants to go to court to get paid. But if you ever have to, a contract means at least you stand a fighting chance.

3. Charge 50% up front and 50% upon completion.

Freelance is a feast-or-famine game, and you’re always chasing the next job while you’re executing the current one. This means you need as reliable a stream of income as possible to budget against.

Meanwhile, your clients aren’t always in a hurry to pay you. Whether by design or by accident, some well-meaning clients can delay your payments for weeks or even months due to paperwork SNAFUs.

For both of these reasons, I strongly suggest charging 50% due upon signing of the contract and the remaining 50% upon approval of the finished work. That way you’re not starving while waiting on endless rounds of approval.

Some clients may refuse to pay 50% up front, especially to a new vendor. If so, you may be willing to negotiate a different %. But be wary of a client who refuses to pay anything up front; that’s the sign of a cash-strapped business, which implies they may have other communication problems down the road.

4. Late fees and rush fees.

Not everyone is comfortable charging rush fees, but if a client requests complicated work with a crazy turnaround time, you have the right to adjust your usual price — especially if that means you have to move their project ahead of someone else’s.

Late fees are also optional, but they help deter indefinite delays. You may never even have to invoke them, but if they’re part of your contract, you’ll have the option of levying them on any delinquent accounts. Just doing so once can ensure that a client won’t suffer the same slowdown again.

5. Aim for retainers and recurring contracts.

All revenue is good revenue, but recurring revenue is the best because it means you can budget like a semi-sane person while you chase down your next big contract. On the other hand, recurring contracts are usually tied to specific tasks or hourly requirements, so make sure your pay rate matches those specifics and also accounts for those limits on your time. Hours you’re working for one client are hours you can’t spend on another.

6. Always have one client too many.

Early on, you may just want any client you can get. But once you start getting a stable base of work, make sure you always have at least one more client or contract than you need to break even.

Contracts end. Clients find other vendors. Your connections may get fired or move on. In any of those cases, losing a client you can afford to lose is much preferable to losing the one that was responsible for making sure you have lunch money.

And if a client turns out to be a problem? Relax: you can fire them and still pay your utilities.

7. Dedicate space in your home or apartment to use as a home office.

I know, I know: you want to be able to work from coffee shops and beaches and wherever, man. And you still can. But when you’re at home, dedicate a room or even a desk as “the freelance space.” It doesn’t mean you have to do all your work from there. But the work you do do from there can give you a nice tax deduction.

8. Have a routine.

The greatest restriction of the 9-to-5 life is also its greatest strength: predictability. People who have to be in an office know what they’re supposed to be doing while they’re there. And even if some slacking occurs, they’re still basically working for 8 hours a day.

When you’re on your own, you’re the only person responsible for making sure you get things done. No one else is managing you, and your clients just want to see the work get done; they don’t care when, where, or how.

As such, you need to impose your own schedule on yourself. Figure out when you do your best work and make sure you’re working at that time of day, every day. Get up and go to bed at the same time every day. Whatever kind of structure you need, adhere to it. Because if you don’t, a few weeks of “Hey, I can work whenever I want” turns into “Hey, I’m not doing any work at all…”

9. Get comfortable with selling yourself.

When I contacted Catherine Price on Twitter to let her know I’d be linking to her freelance tips in this post, she asked if there was any way I could also mention her new book, Vitamania: Our Obsessive Quest for Nutritional Perfection. (As she joked, “Another freelance tip: engage in shameless self-promotion.”)

She’s right, though.

When you’re freelancing, you’re also your only sales rep, and the product you’re selling is you. It may feel artificial to have to convince someone else that your skills and expertise are “worth buying,” because you just want them to magically realize it about you and hire you without questions.

But no one is looking to do you any favors or throw you any bones; you need to go get them yourself. And if you don’t get business, you’re going to starve. So start believing that what you have to offer is worth the price. (Because if you don’t, someone else will get your business and eat your lunch.)

10. Your network can’t help you if they don’t know what you do, what you love, and how you can be helpful to someone else.

Okay, some people will do you favors. Your friends are happy to make connections for you, as long as they believe you’re talented and reliable.

But they also have to know what you’re good at, and what you need.

Look at your LinkedIn connections. How many of them can you really recommend to anyone else? (Heck, how many of them do you actually even know?)

Does your family know that you’re freelancing? Do they know what you’re freelancing in?

The more people know about your skills, your accomplishments, and what you’d like to do next, the easier it is for them to connect those dots when the opportunity arises. And the next time they meet a colleague who needs a new ad campaign / commercial video / wedding photography / magazine article / financial advice / whatever it is that you love doing, they can recommend you.

But not if you’re confusing silence with humility. So go ahead: toot your own horn from time to time. Just don’t deafen your network, or they won’t think you need the help. Or, worse, they’ll tune you out.

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How Creators Can Win in the Post-Facebook Economy

“What happens when there’s no independent media left?”

A decade ago, this question was unthinkable. In 2005, “new media” was still new and its rules were largely unwritten. To put this in perspective, in 2005 Steve Jobs announced the iPhone’s new video capability by showcasing Tiki Bar TV, a no-budget podcast that was literally filmed in its co-creator’s Vancouver apartment.

Today, that concept is unthinkable.

That’s because today Tim Cook stands onstage with U2 at Apple events, not with independent media creators. New media channels have been co-opted by “old media,” but the big names online are mostly the same big names from other media.

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It’s also because you can now watch YouTube, Netflix, and NBC all on the same box where you send emails and play video games. The screens have conflated, and all media is considered equal in the eyes of the viewer.

Meanwhile, even Hollywood studios have backed away from the “independent” game, favoring tentpole franchises over small-budget films that could be profitable on a smaller scale. Instead of swinging for base hits, they now need constant home runs to satisfy their earnings forecasts.

All of this makes it harder for independent media creators to stay in the game.

But wait… in this world of instant global access, how is this possible?

Wasn’t the democratization of the tools supposed to level the playing field?

Only until the real money showed up.

NEW BOSS, SAME RULES

In 2005, YouTube and Facebook were cultural oddities. Now they’re both publicly traded (YouTube via owner Google), and Pinterest is widely expected to follow suit. As such, they can’t afford not to be profitable — and independent voices aren’t safe bets when you have shareholders to please.

This explains why new rules make it even harder for users of Facebook, Pinterest, etc., to profit by using those channels.  Like most ad-supported distribution deals, the creators earn a pittance while the distributors retain most of the revenue. Some disruptors are trying to upend that model, but their profit structures will require a big change in user behavior.

Granted, there are upsides to just taking whatever handout YouTube is willing to give you. As Firas mentioned on Twitter, being able to focus on your media and let YouTube deal with the problem of attracting advertisers on your behalf frees you up from having to be an artist and a mogul at the same time.

And yet, when the top YouTube channels are pulling in less than $30K per month in advertising, you can see the problem: that’s great money for a solopreneur who’s doing a gaming or fashion videoblog, but it’s impossible to produce a broadcast-quality fictional series on that budget. As an example, the creators of Video Game High School had to crowdfund $900K to produce their final five episode season, which breaks down to nearly $200K per episode.

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Relying on these channels to drive or supply your revenue also leaves you at the mercy of their ever-changing algorithms, which means the most popular way to be seen on Facebook in one year can suddenly become a dead end a year later.

Ultimately, the new media channels are just using the same business model as the old media channels: advertising props up everything, and the creators make a fraction of the revenue while the middlemen make all the money.

And as all of this is happening, every channel from Netflix to Amazon to… Overstock.com (?) is hellbent on creating their own content, so they can retain the rights to profit from it on any future channels that arise. This same mentality is changing the way TV shows are produced, destroying the independent studio model in favor of each network simultaneously becoming a distributor AND a studio.

But those new content deals aren’t for you. They’re for Woody Allen.

So basically, if you want to make a living creating media online, you need to do one of four things:

* Get hired by an agency to create branded content (AKA “native advertising”)

* Get popular enough on a channel (YouTube, etc.) that the channel (or a middleman agency) decides you’re worth signing to a contract that primarily favors them

* Already be successful in another medium (TV, film, comedy, etc.) which prompts Netflix, Amazon, Yahoo, Hulu, etc., to offer you a development deal because you’re a known quantity that they can advertise around

* Pull a Broad City, in which your web content is so good that it gets noticed by a mainstream player (in this case, Amy Poehler) who helps shepherd it to greater success on a mainstream channel (in this case, Comedy Central).

So, where does this leave independent creators who want to build something that has a chance to live on its own?

I think it comes down to redefining what “independent success” means.

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7 Ways to (Still) Make It On Your Own

1. Use mainstream web channels to drive traffic to your own walled garden. Years ago, the creators of Ask a Ninja implored their fellow web video creators to use YouTube sparingly. Instead of locking your audience to their platform, just put a portion of your output there [where you can still earn a percentage from the ad revenue], but encourage your diehard fans to follow through to a website you control, where they can subscribe, donate, buy merchandise, or otherwise support you, the creator, directly.

2. Be a first-mover in emerging channels. Early adopters of Vine and Snapchat who developed massive followings in those channels are the creators that brands turn to in order to learn how to profit from those channels themselves, sometimes through licensing deals. If you can become an expert in how a new channel works (at your own expense), you can eventually profit from the brands who’ll exploit your expertise. Isn’t this selling out? Sure, but: then you can build your own media property with the money they’ve invested in you.

(This is the indie equivalent of Hollywood actors who make a popcorn movie followed by an Oscar contender, over and over, throughout their careers; the for-profit roles allow them to make for-love films. And if you’re shrewd, like the Duplass brothers, you can become profitable at both.)

3. Aim for the ancillaries. Use your digital audience as the hook to bait legacy media, like the book deals signed by top YouTubers. Yes, this is personal branding taken literally — and it may be the route that leads you to the profitability that YouTube itself can’t deliver.

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4. Defiantly perfect your specific voice that speaks powerfully to a passionate niche audience. There’s a reason that Broad City is a breakout hit with a specific kind of audience — mostly urban women under 40 — and that’s because its creators are obsessively devoted to telling their story in such a way that it resonates almost primally with its most passionate fans. Ditto the longtime success of webcomics like Diesel Sweeties, or web series like Homestar Runner, whose incredibly particular POVs couldn’t be found anywhere else.

5. Tell an inescapably good story. It’s tried (and trite) but true; a good story solves all your problems. Regardless of the genre, the tone, the quality, etc., if the story itself is compelling, the people who love it will overlook its flaws in their quest to find out what happens next. Why are so many low-budget directors getting called up to film Hollywood franchises? Because they’ve proven they can tell a gripping story regardless of its budget. (This may be the biggest lesson from the rise and fall of “new media”: just because the tools have been democratized, that doesn’t make good storytelling any easier.)

6. Be so honest that it terrifies you. Look, life is hard and we’re all trying to get through it together. Sometimes being bluntly honest about your own experiences resonates with other people in such a way that they see themselves in your work and realize they’re not alone. Hyperbole and a Half author Allie Brosh probably wasn’t expecting to sign a book deal from her cartoon blog, but her candor about battling depression touched a chord in her audience that caused her story to travel. When you bond with an audience like that, it’s more than just business.

7. Labor for love, not profit. If you create independent media because you’re passionate about getting better at creating independent media, you’ll enjoy the experience regardless of the outcome. And if you love what you’re doing, that enthusiasm will become infectious to a portion of your target audience, who’ll then be motivated to share your work with their own friends, which can lead to a slowly-growing organic word-of-mouth success in terms of audience reach and impact. And while that’s far from a guaranteed route to solvency, success stories like Fifty Shades of Grey prove that it can be done.

BUT SHOULDN’T THIS BE EASIER?

Probably not. If it was, we’d have a cats-on-skateboards economy.

So get to it.

Otherwise, the only winners will be the ones who were already ahead.

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Why I Quit My Day Job

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I decided to change my life again.

Once, back in 2005, I quit my job in order to freelance full-time. I learned a lot during the next seven years — including a lot about what not to do as a freelancer — and then in 2012 I decided that the security of a steady paycheck was worth giving up the feast-or-famine gamble of seeking out freelance work (and hunting down freelance paychecks).

For two and a half years, that was mostly true. But lately I’ve felt the opposite.

Granted, my day job wasn’t bad.

I learned a lot, I met some great people, and I contributed to the company’s success… but I also felt like the pace of a salaried office job may not be the best match for how I think and work.

So, on November 1st, I left the 9-to-5 scene to return to the world of freelance.

Why?

Mostly, it comes down to time, desire, and fulfillment.

On a professional level, I get motivated when I see that I’m having a visible impact for a client. And while I know I was having an impact at my day job, I also came to realize that a large company is naturally going to evolve more slowly than I’d become accustomed to as a freelancer. When the turnaround time from “we need this” to “this is complete; what’s next?” is weeks or months instead of years, that’s a pace I can embrace.

On a personal level, my motives are a little more complex.

As wonderful as a regular paycheck is, I feel more productive when my work fits my schedule, rather than trying to be productive on cue within the constraints of a 40-hour week. If trading in my job security gives me the freedom to work on what I’m interested in at the times when it suits me, that’s a trade I’m willing to make.

My desires have also changed over the past 2+ years. I’ve had a long love-hate relationship with social media, and with digital marketing in particular, throughout my whole career. Lately, I’ve felt like redirecting my efforts and pursuing a different kind of career. (As such, you may notice that all of my old blog posts have been hidden. Some of them may return, but my overall focus is starting to shift, so the purpose of my site may change as well.)

And perhaps the most arbitrary, indefensible, and selfish reason of all for me leaving my day job is this:

Since I started working 9-to-5 again, I haven’t created anything.

Yes, I was “creative” at work, within the constraints of a corporate marketing role. But I wasn’t personally creative at all in that time. No matter how inspired I would be to create something of my own after work, by the time I came home every day I was physically, mentally, and emotionally spent — even on the “easy” days, when I had no deadlines and no conflicts. So much of my time and energy was allocated to building something for others that I had no resources left for myself.

You might think a creative rut is a small price to pay for the safety of a salary and benefits. I thought that too, for the first year.

And maybe the second.

But by the third year, I was getting worried.

Would I ever create anything again?

Had I lost it?

Even worse: I was starting to be okay with the idea of not creating anything again.

“Maybe being creative was something I did when I was young,” I thought.

And the day I thought that, I realized I had to make a decision:

Safety, or singularity?

If I only get one life, is this how I want to spend it?

What would I regret more: never making anything again, or…

No, that’s the thing. That’s what I’d regret more than anything else I can think of.

I’d regret playing it safe.

As someone who considers himself more of a maker than a marketer, I made up my mind that the only way I was going to make the life I want for myself is to make bolder decisions.

So I jumped.

Now let’s see where it leads.

How Social Media Destroyed Itself

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To everyone who’s ever created something and shared it online, I’d like to say one thing:

I’m sorry.

See, those of us who’ve been doing this for awhile now — we’re the ones who invented blogging, and tweeting, and YouTubing, and social networking, and we’ve been preaching about “the digital revolution” for the past 10 or 20 years — we all got it wrong.

We thought the medium would change the media.

We thought the gatekeepers were dead.

We thought meaning mattered.

Nope. We all blew it.

And unfortunately there’s no going back.

How We Misread the Digital Tea Leaves

A funny thing happened around the turn of the millennium.

Those of us who were busy pioneering the digital formats we now all take for granted believed then that our newly “democratized” means of media production would change media as we know it. We presumed that audience tastes would change with the new formats, and that traditional media channels (TV, film, radio, publishing) would need to adapt to our way of life.

Why? Because we were ahead of the curve. We saw the potential of new forms, and we thought we’d be able to harness them faster than the “dinosaur” media conglomerates we derided.

We were right about our own speed, but that’s because most of us were young and childless then, so we had nothing but time to tinker with these new toys. We could afford to spend days and weeks and years perfecting our videoblogs and podcasts and other labors of love because we still felt like the underdogs who had something to prove to the dinosaurs we were outfoxing.

We claimed we wanted to plant our flag in their territory… but we were only being half honest.

Problem is, we also courted those same dinosaurs, because we wanted them to play in our sandbox. We wanted the validation of their attention and their money. We wanted them to acknowledge that we were right, and to reward us with seats at their table. We just thought we’d be the ones who’d be able to set the new rules, just because we were there first.

Boy, were we wrong.

What Happens When You Ask All the Wrong Questions?

I was at the first PodCamp, back in 2006, when “podcasting” was new enough that it was still called “podcasting,” and the people who did it were rare enough that we could pretty much all meet in a single auditorium. And the question we all asked ourselves then was, “When will brands realize this is the new way to communicate?”

Whoops. Be careful what you ask for.

I was at the first Video on the Net conference back in 2006, when such an idea was revolutionary enough to actually be termed “revolutionary.” We were the rebels in cargo shorts getting strange looks from the suits who thought we were a fad. And the question we all asked ourselves then was, “When is old media going to wake up and catch up?”

Whoops again.

Instead of trying to find our own ways to succeed, we were trying to make our new media fit the old paradigm. And when you do that, the old paradigm will gladly eat you alive.

In 2007 or 2008, I was invited to a focus group at Turner Broadcasting. A roomful of us who were social media creators spent a day giving Turner our thoughts on the future of media. We were thrilled; we thought we were being taken seriously.

None of us were self-aware enough to realize we were actually volunteering our own demise.

(I think they paid each of us $3000 for the privilege. I could be wrong; it may have been $1000.)

What we were too inexperienced and deluded to realize was this: as soon as we proved that these new formats could work, the dinosaurs who stood to make actual money with them would co-opt these channels and fill them with the same media (and the same business models) they’ve always followed. They didn’t need us, and we didn’t really need them… but we thought we did. So we started playing their game, hoping we’d win. But we lost.

And as these new systems got rolled into the old processes, what changed wasn’t the processes; it was us.

When In Rome…

Some of us sold our “social” skills to brands as a means to make ourselves seem newly relevant. Big business knew there was money to be made by advertising to hordes of eyeballs, and if we knew how to attract those eyeballs, weren’t we useful?

We figured out pretty early on that we could make money teaching old dogs new tricks. It took us longer to realize that these old dogs would eventually master our tricks and we’d need to find a new way to remain relevant (and employable) to them.

So we started becoming social media marketers… then social marketers… and eventually just marketers. What mattered wasn’t the media, it was the reach. What mattered wasn’t the community, it was the degree to which they could be monetized.

Those of us who used to dream of a new digital future never thought that future would just end up being us using the tools we once loved to convince strangers to buy someone else’s products, for which we’d be rewarded with book deals about the value of trust and influence.

It took us even longer to admit that nobody on YouTube was getting a TV series anytime soon.

Nothing to See Here, Move Along…

Now we live in a world where Facebook and Twitter have gone IPO, which means they exist to please shareholders and advertisers, not users.

Now we live in an age when Yahoo! makes headlines for announcing they’re getting into the TV business… by seeking series deals from established TV professionals, not Internet creators.

Now we live in a reality where some of us are apologizing to brands for misleading them into a social economy, because once we opened those gates, the brands and the social networkers both suffered from a pollution of white noise and an atrophying ability to care.

And now I feel it’s worth apologizing to everyone else who isn’t a corporation. I feel it’s worth acknowledging that our old dream of self-created digital media “rock stars” who would change the way the world works was, at best, naive and, at worst, dangerous.

Because while we early adopters were patting ourselves on the back for “getting it,” we were unwittingly painting a target on the back of the whole digital revolution.

And I, for one, would like to start making up for it.

Image by hryckowian via Flickr