Archive for the 'Media' Category

>Changing the Purpose of Commercials

>It’s been quite a while since my last post, but never fear! During my hiatus, I have been exploring ways to travel from where we are to where we need to be—as a culture, as a country, etc. The biggest problem that is weighing on everyone’s mind is the problem of the economy. Some of us propose drastic measures, and some of us have simply given up. Unfortunately, most of us don’t see any path the individual can take that will make a difference. We hope the experts and government officials will come up with something.

This country had long been supported by the work of individuals in small businesses. Then the industrial age brought us the factory, and many people bought into the idea of a weekly paycheck—trading time for dollars. Of course, things changed again. Now there isn’t much growth in time-for-dollar jobs, and there is stiff competition from other countries whose economic situations have them in a desperate enough situation that they can underbid almost all American labor.

With soaring unemployment, more and more people are sitting at home, vegging out on TV. Technology makes it easy for us to entertain our brains so we don’t have to think about the mess we’re in. However, these financially-strapped, debt-laden couch potatoes aren’t the ideal demographic for TV commercials. Those that don’t ignore the ads altogether can’t afford to buy anything anyway, and they can’t afford any more debt either. The consequence of this is that the value of the TV market block is falling. As it falls the revenue for creating shows also falls, and the quality of said shows suffers.

What I have discovered (and I apologize for what sounds like a shameless sales-pitch) is a website called Varolo (learn more and join our “village” here). This site is founded on the very same principles that I have been discussing over the past year on this blog. In essence, it is the embodiment of the first phase of FITmedia’s vision of a media shift. It has the potential to sever the connection between TV commercials and TV shows.

Varolo is a completely free service that allows anyone aged 13 and above to earn a portion of the money its advertisers pay, simply by watching an average of 10 minutes of commercials a day and inviting others to do the same. This is similar to network marketing, except you watch ads instead of buying products. When you watch the introduction video, you will begin to see how this service could attract a lot of advertising money away from traditional ad-driven television.

Initially, this will hurt the old-school networks, and they will be forced to adopt pay-per-view and subscription-based services to stay afloat. The upside is that with ad dollars being returned to individuals—according to Varolo’s moderately lucrative plan—there will be more money for people to spend on entertainment. AND people will likely only spend money on shows or channels that they actually care about, which will increase the quality of the shows the networks choose to air.

It is therefore possible for a well-organized tribe of media geeks to use money earned from Varolo (and other companies that will likely follow suit) to generate capital that they can use to develop high-quality media to fill this need. In other words, überfans of a given TV show (or TV show idea) have a chance to become the mediators between advertising interests and the artistic expression of content creators.

The TV Revolution is beginning…

>Celebrate You

>Whenever a greeting card holiday rolls around, I can't help but write posts about the frivolity of industries based on them. This time, I think I'll switch it up a bit. Valentine's Day might mean a burst of candy sales and restaurant reservations, but because it is a minor holiday, much of this is actually done out of love.

In contrast with Christmas, which I believe is driven by family obligation more than genuine love, Valentine's Day is easily ignored by those not in the spirit. Sure, you run into the candy displays, and your kids have their parties, but it's rare when someone is pushed into a Valentine's Day party who doesn't want to go. No, people largely choose to celebrate the day when they feel they have something to celebrate.

Which brings me to my topic: Why are there so many people who don't have anything to celebrate?

I've been happily married for five years, but I remember hating Valentine's Day. I wanted someone to spend the day with, but lacked prospects. The traditionally male role of finding a mate weighed heavily on me, and the day had a way of rubbing it in.

Being a man and an introvert, I struggled with performing the tasks of my "duty." I wasted enormous amounts of energy on planning, rather than doing. Here's the part where I'm supposed to offer the advice to just do it, and if you're an extrovert, that's exactly what you should do (man or woman).

However, if you are an introvert, the advice is somewhat different. It is not in your nature to do the asking. By the same token, it is also not in the nature of your ideal mate to be asked. If an introvert forces himself into a dominant role for the purpose of winning a mate, he will only win a mate that compliments that role. Going forward, he will be forced to maintain a counterfeit role, or abandon the relationship.

While there are aspects of the human heart that coincide with gender, personality traits are not sex-linked. This confusion is caused by the media's tendency to typecast the sexes through over-simplification of the human condition. Consequently, there are many of us that end up feeling like misfits or freaks, when we are actually perfectly healthy individuals.

Love is finding common ground, often between complete opposites. If you're comfortable with who you are, and you know what you stand for in life, then you'll "magically" attract people that compliment you—including, but not limited to, a traditional romantic relationship.

The reason so many people feel lost on Valentine's Day is because they don't understand themselves. It's okay if you're not suave, if you're just not. In relationships, your level of discomfort speaks louder than any gimmick used to make you seem better.

Jamie Klueck
theFITmedia.com

>Only the Good Die Young

>I've recently been watching (and studying) several cancelled television shows. For the purpose of this post, I don't need to go into which ones, but suffice it to say that they carry strong ratings in online forums and databases. The question is: why do these highly regarded first and second seasons not warrant further development?

I think they do. Now, I know that I lack a full understanding of what happened in each case, and it is the purpose of this post to discuss the general reasons that these shows (or any worthy ventures) fail. In fact, to say they "fail" might be a misnomer—in some cases, they're killed.

Like a lot of mainstream media, broadcast and basic cable are largely funded by ads. Whenever ratings take a dip, someone loses money. I don't know if there is a standard for whose responsibility it is to lose said money, but there really are only two choices. Either, the network loses money if the advertisers pay for results (less eyeballs = less advertising), or the advertisers lose money if they pay for time (less eyeballs = less value per dollar).

Either way, a show with falling ratings represents a liability, rather than an asset. Therefore, the same rules that govern any investment govern television production as well. Network executives, whose job it is to grow the bottom line, are in a hurry to cut liabilities—often at the first sign of difficulty.

However, in any business venture, this behavior is short-sighted and destructive. Long-term assets create stability for an enterprise, however, they are not easily identified by short-term market response. Often, assets of long-term value either start out with little success or enjoy a good reception but then suffer a dip when the bubble created by marketing hype bursts.

This is because stories—those of unique people, products, and services or those of an artistic nature—are about more than easily quantifiable facts. Facts are easy to put together, but what makes a story compelling is how and why a certain combination of facts is important. No one becomes loyal to a list of bullet-points.

The only way to identify long-term assets is to consider the potential of a project, not just what currently exists. If the fan base (or customer base) is small for the first two years, that's not a sign that it's a failure, but a sign that more explanation is required. By that, of course, I don't mean more bullet points, but more depth.

It seems to me that any story which acquires even a small loyal fan base, has the potential to be valuable. In fact, this should be the clue to executives that the project needs to be promoted, rather than cancelled. It may not be a short term moneymaker, but building on existing loyalty with existing projects would save the company "startup" costs.

Traditional ratings don't measure (or don't care about) loyalty, just overall numbers. It may be that the number of overall viewers tends to indicate loyalty, but this sort of numbers view is too remote to accurately measure loyalty in all cases. For this reason, this system is hostile to art, which is unpredictable.

Because art is about breaking new ground, it is in art that value created. This is important not just for a media company's stability, but also to society as a whole. Unfortunately, art cannot be rushed, and too many people are afraid of losing their jobs over a bad call on risky artistic programming.

It's just too bad they don't realize that slow growth is never risky.

Jamie Klueck
theFITmedia.com

>Portable Lessons

>I’ve used this phrase before when describing the importance of Truth in Fiction. However, by its very nature, a portable lesson is something that can be learned anywhere. When I first started studying success principles, I was like most people. I didn’t understand how one thing related to another. I laughed at the concept that business principles had anything to do with raising a family.

It is true that many businesses are run by tyrants whom we would never want to have as patriarch of a family, but it is also true that many families are run by tyrants whom you would never want as a boss. On the flip side, it is a reality that there are both families and organizations run by people of integrity. In both cases, the lessons of one are easily transferrable to the other. The lessons a father learns from raising his children apply to leading a team of people, and vice versa.

The reason this is true is that all people respond the same to basic principles, regardless of gimmicks, that’s why they are basic principles. Helping people identify these and pattern a life-habits after them is the very essence of the Liberal Arts, and why the study and discussion of them is such an important lost practice. Today’s management/positional leadership culture is all about the gimmicks and strategies of getting people to do what you want, how you want it, when you want it. However, people want respect, they want to feel appreciated for their contributions, they want the freedom to pursue things they feel are important, and they need the time and space to do it in.

This runs perfectly counter to the dictatorship paradigm most management schools teach, and so media creators developed “solutions” in the form of endless gimmicks, tricks, bribes, and work-arounds. Endless patches to the human psyche by way of propaganda have brought us to the place in time where we believe that tyranny is the path to success in business, while avoiding relationships at home, is the path to success. We actually believe that one organization is different from another. The adage “people are like snowflakes” is true enough, but organizations are all the same. If you can’t treat your son or daughter the way you treat your employees without repercussions, chances are you aren’t really escaping those problems at work either.

Hence, portable lessons. Because of our complex culture, many of us work in organizations where it is difficult to perceive the total impact of our actions. Short of restructuring the organization tomorrow to allow more interaction between levels in a massive hierarchy, the solution to this problem is to simply look to areas where the impact of human relations is more apparent, then port those lessons to the workplace to give you a better handle on developing your influence and likability. Short of having a solid relationship, turn to the classic books.

These portable lessons are few and timeless. There is something to be said for the techniques of your industry or organization (even if its a family), but without a deep understanding of connecting principles which lead to integrity, you’re doomed to make the same mistake in every single relationship you have in life—and that’s a waste.

>Quality, Not Quantity

>There is a big difference between being long-winded and having a lot to say. Long-winded people—and I’m guilty of this—tend to fill up space with words and content that are empty. People who have something to say don’t waste a minute of your time conveying their message. Media today seems to err on the side of long-windedness.

It’s a classic case of quantity over quality. Proliferation tends to get more attention because it is so visible by its very nature. However, every individual or organization has a limited capacity for creation. To be extraordinarily prolific in words is to be extraordinarily deficient in content.

“It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” –Macbeth, William Shakespeare

http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=fitmedia-20&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=0198324006&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifrShakespeare saw the same thing in his day. As I understand it, plays at that time suffered from the overuse of “special effects” and battle scenes which were meant to captivate audiences but were merely gimmicks, adding little to the story. Today’s movies, television, books, and music all suffer from the overuse of time-consuming, value-deficient, “filler” content which represents an attempt to expand mediocre (or good, but brief) ideas into saleable media products, based upon what has worked in the past. In their rush for market share, executives kill the golden goose.

The context of the quote also suggests Shakespeare understood the parallel between people’s labor for success and the quality of the fruits of that labor. The character, Macbeth, had just learned of his wife’s death, and is articulating (not “proliferating”) how brief life is. Basically, this quote encapsulates the moral of the play. Macbeth realizes that his untimely rush for power and prestige ultimately became is undoing, whereas he was destined for success even if he had not rushed it.

Most people don’t even attempt to be a success, much less go too far. However, those that do push for greatness, often tend to swing the pendulum too far in the opposite direction. Aside from the well-publicized tendency of driven people to cause direct harm to others, a more insidious and pervasive tendency exists. In a push for success, many people undermine the integrity of their projects simply by cutting corners and “padding” sparse content, rather than waiting until their idea reservoir is legitimately full.

The more solid the foundation—the significance part of the project—the more likely people are to discuss what you’re doing with others. The more discussion, the more likely you’ll get viral spread. Filling up space with long-windedness may be the quick way to get some attention, but if you have to work at keeping your audience, you’ll never get a break.

>The Creep and the Internet

>Nothing stays the same, everything changes. There are many people with many different agendas all over the globe who want to direct the flow of that change. Most of these people mean well. Many have a perfect plan to fit their particular perspective. Many more are willingly ignorant, or even outright selfish. Some think things would go better if they had total control. Shockingly, some are even right on this point—at least for a short time. Most plans center on what someONE is going to do about the problems.

Every time something disastrous happens, someone steps in to offer a solution. Unfortunately, the solutions that look the easiest, fastest, or cheapest to us have an enormous long-term price tag—one that always stipulates a loss of freedom. Just as America went from being the most free nation on Earth to a bureaucratic nightmare, so the Internet will likely succumb to the forces of controlling powers. That will spell the end of freedom in the information age.

The technique of utilizing a disaster like 9/11 to push forward political agenda is not a new concept, but is fundamental to political science. Even before we might have understood what it was, we—collectively as a young race, and individually as young children—developed the ability to get our way by applying pressure to a weak spot. Leadership author, Chris Brady, called this the “creep” in a recent blog article. Sometimes, this technique is necessary, justifiable, and even righteous, but not always. And not just because an individual or elite group perceives a benefit to humanity.

If humanity doesn’t “buy it” then it’s not right for everyone. The obsession with centralized solutions is founded on the belief that one person can’t make a difference. The thing is, this observation is accurate, just not completely true. One person can’t make a difference, but one person can share his vision with two or three others and inspire them to share the vision each with two or three others. The difference between this and centralized solutions is that the direct approach allows for the vision to be adapted to each group or individual. It both encourages understanding of individual situations, and allows for this information to be shared communally to increase understanding in the whole organization.

Think this doesn’t happen? Au contraire! This is what was done in every example of prosperity throughout history. The fact that we feel this is impossible is a creep in media content toward that propagated image. Big media is supported by big-everything-else, and nothing big wants to feel threatened by something little. So they naturally censor—perhaps without even understanding what they’re doing—any nugget of an idea that feels like a threat to their interests. The result is a flock of sheep that think they can’t solve their own problems—and can’t because they haven’t learned how.

The Internet is wild and revolutionary. Just look at Wikipedia. User created, user supported, and free to the general public. Nothing that revolutionary has happened since the printing press! But we all know it’s under fire for just that reason. The carefully laid structure of a bureaucratic society is being exposed to those who care to engage in the conversation at all. So the weapon of mass media tends to discourage personal exploration.

Even more so, it tends to discourage personal growth. When people become independent thinkers and independent operators, they create change—natural, and therefore, uncontrollable change. That is terrifying to anyone who has a stake in the here-and-now because it might mean the vacation is over. No one can stop change any more than one could stop a speeding locomotive with his bare hands, so in trying to tame the wild beast, they rip up the tracks and undermine the whole thing.

As companies—which shall remain nameless—grow larger and more influential on the internet, they will use the power they gain to stack the deck in their favor. The solution is not to regulate them, because that only transfers the power from one big organization to a bigger one. It also tempts wealthy private businesses with the option to hire lobbyists who can further the company’s cause by manipulating the legal system.

The internet still leaves the power in the hands of the people. Let’s be bold enough to come together and keep it free. What we need is to prevent companies from growing large without our approval. An internet company can easily generate $1 billion with the help of its customers, but if we don’t like something they’re doing, we need to lift a different company to that level. It’s possible.

>Lives Like Rubik’s Cube

>The thing that is both interesting and frustrating about life is that we all start out in a different place. Each one of us is a complicated jumble of different aspects—both good ones and bad ones. In fact, some of us even have aspects each which would otherwise be good, but are in conflict with one another.

For much of the beginning of our lives, we spend time just making the jumble worse. There are as many reasons this is true as there are people for it to be true about. Some lives become more jumbled than others, but they are all solveable—just like Rubik’s Cube. Hey, no one ever said life was easy!

I’m a big believer in the singularity of truth. That is, no matter how jumbled and different we appear at first, there is a path that will lead us to the same place. Now, I don’t mean we should seek to be clones—this is where the analogy breaks down. Unlike a Rubik’s Cube, human lives have layers of depth. The deeper one goes, the more he should find in common with his fellow men, or else he is fundamentally flawed. We don’t need to look the same on the surface, but our hearts should beat as one.

In the name of diversity, today’s media has sold us on the idea that we don’t need to change anything about ourselves. In effect, the masses want to believe that a jumbled Rubik’s Cube is the way they were born and the way they must stay. Mainstream media and mass marketing, then, tend to generate their content accordingly. These two channels are awash with politicians and businessmen who want to make life easier for the little guy.

They mean well from their perspective, of course. Some measure of convenience in every area of life is the advantage that human civilization has over the animal kingdom. However, the other advantage we have over the animals is the ability to continuously improve. The more individuals take responsibility for solving their own small problems, the more prevalent innovation and ingenuity is.

These inventions of the human mind are valuable and can be traded for other inventions. In this way, civilization increases in total value and, subsequently, wealth. When media develops a culture where the widespread belief is that an elite few—those born without a jumbled Rubik’s Cube—are responsible for all the inventions, initiative slows and civilization decreases in value.

But this is just a lie. It is true that some lives are less jumbled than others—and it has less to do with financial advantage than you may think—while others are extremely jumbled. However, there seems to be something in the human spirit that enables us to solve these puzzles the more difficult they are. Perhaps, it’s that the extremely jumbled cases seem beyond hope to the aforementioned politicians and businessmen so they’re on their own. Maybe it’s because these jumbled individuals are more driven to work on themselves and so gain more momentum.

One thing repeats throughout history: more is created by those at a disadvantage than by a king in his throne. So how hard are you trying to solve your Cube?


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Communication

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Quotes

"For reason, ruling alone, is a force confining; and passion, unattended, is a flame that burns to its own destruction."

- Kahlil Gibran

"All television is educational television. The question is: what is it teaching?"
- Nicholas Johnson, author:
"We need the media to be presenting pictures of possibility not just continuing to be prophets of doom and gloom."
- Kevin Kelly, Wired

"How selfish soever man may be supposed, there are evidently some principles in his nature, which interest him in the fortunes of others, and render their happiness necessary to him, though he derives nothing from it, except the pleasure of seeing it."

- Adam Smith
"And the science is overwhelming that for creative, conceptual tasks, those if-then rewards rarely work and often do harm."
- Daniel Pink, author: Drive

"I wish we had a Problem-Solver Party because we have very big problems that need solving. And I think a lot of our attention is addressed to the wrong problems."
- David McCullough, author: 1776
"The goal shouldn't be to have a lot of people to yell at, the goal probably should be to have a lot of people who choose to listen."
- Seth Godin, author: Tribes
"The role of the media is to disseminate information, highlight important current events, and to essentially stand as a witness, an observer of cultural, political, community, and educational events. A healthy media provides a check on the government and increases the political astuteness of republican citizens."
- Stephen Palmer, The Center for Social Leadership
"Advertisers and politicians rely on a half-educated public, on people who know little outside of their own specialty, because such people are easy to deceive with so-called experts, impressive technical or sociological jargon, and an effective set of logical and psychological tricks."
- Robert Harris
"Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."
- John Adams
"I know no safe repository of the ultimate power of society but people. And if we think them not enlightened enough, the remedy is not to take the power from them, but to inform them by education."
- Thomas Jefferson
"Fathers and mothers have lost the idea that the highest aspiration they might have for their children is for them to be wise--as priests, prophets or philosophers are wise. Specialized competence and success are all that they can imagine."
- Allan Bloom, author: The Closing of the American Mind
"He that walketh with wise men shall be wise, but a companion of fools shall be destroyed."
(Proverbs 13:20)
"If you are not a thinking man, to what purpose are you a man at all."

- Samuel Taylor Coleridge
"I learn a lot from TV. Everytime someone turns one on, I go in the other room and read a book."
- Groucho Marx, comedian: Duck Soup
"There are two freedoms - the false, where a man is free to do what he likes; the true, where he is free to do what he ought."
- Charles Kingsley