Friday, February 27, 2009

Streight interview Twitter Fundamental Misgivings

Jean Baudrillard - Cultural Identity and Politics - 2002 1/8

First, watch this video above, which was my model for parody.

This interview with postmodernist philosopher Jean Baudrillard is in several parts, separate video segments, and this one question fills up the whole Part 1 video, a prolix 10 minute question!

Streight interview "Twitter - Fundamental Misgivings"

Boy! That robot interviewer was rough on me!


video thumbnails as art part 1

Str8 Sounds "Inner Light of Love" video still.

This post contains thumbnails from some of my Videos by Steven E. Streight on Vimeo.

The March 2009 issue of Artforum arrived in the mail today. It contains two feature articles on Music Video and Avant Garde Video Artists, including Dara Birnbaum.

As I looked at the video stills in these articles, I was intrigued by the function and independent form of the small sized video still or "thumbnail".

Str8 Sounds "If I Was Human" video still.

Is the video still, the thumbnail image, akin to condensed novels? Abridgements and abbreviations? Or closer to semaphore, morse code, smoke signals?

Or does it have more in common with free samples of pizza handed out at a grocery store?

Str8 Sounds "Drill Down" video still.

Perhaps we can compare video still thumbnails to book covers, dust jackets, and movie posters. But this still relegates the thumbnail to a subservient role, inferior to and dominated by the full motion picture or video work of which it is a very small, but honorable part.

Str8 Sounds "Other Centric" video still.

When it comes to micro-content, let's not forget the little thumbnail, the still photo derived from a video or film. I often wonder how editors select the one, two, or three thumbnails they will include in a review of a film.

Str8 Sounds "Cartoon Delusion" video still.

I especially love the thumbnails that capture an image superimposition moment, with one image layered on top of another, at a precise degree of assimilation, where one image is somewhat stronger than the other.

Str8 Sounds "Flame of Devotion" video still.

What does a single thumbnail say about a video? How can one stationary image "stand for" a long sequence of moving images and sound?

Str8 Sounds "Spleezy 7.2" video still.

These marginalized works of videography, the "derived images" that serve "only" to point to the full, intact film which they are a subset of, standing as signifiers of the larger work - - can't they stand on their own as art "in themselves", apart from the films they represent?

Str8 Sounds "Hungry for You" video still.

Are thumbnails symbolic of the larger video work? Does a thumbnail give you enough visual information to help you decide to view or purchase an art film? How can one or a few thumbnail stills capture and convey the "heart" of the film?

Str8 Sounds "Weightlessness Upon My Smolders" video still.

With such impossible requirements, no wonder the thumbnail longs to be free!

Metaphysical Platypus "Sleep Talk" video still.

By presenting these video stills, in a mini-gallery of photo art, what does this do to your own perception of thumbnail vs. film?

Str8 Sounds "Mr. E Goes to Boston" video still.

We say the thumbnail is a representation of the film which contains it. But the thumbnail also contains the entire film, or is used as such by the film critic and reviewer.

So...could we reverse the situation, and say that the full film is just a representative, a carrier of the thumbnail image?

Let's detach thumbnails from the videos they're derived from, and appreciate them as distinct images, without a necessary relationship to a larger work.

Consider these thumbnails from my video work as Str8 Sounds, Metaphysical Platypus, and Proust in a Field of Plastic Flowers. Do they make you curious about the full video from which these micro-scenes or static snippets are derived?

Str8 Sounds "Bowling is Mandatory" video still.

Do we see thumbnails as not existing in their own right, thus not to be taken seriously, or stared at for very long. How does one's gaze adjust itself to the "tiny fragment of larger body of work" bias?

Are thumbnails similar to those 30 second audio clips of hyper-protective music recording labels that fear you might figure out how to download an entire song, so all you get is a "sample", labeled "incomplete" or "partial"?

Are thumbnails similar to portions of a large painting, what is called "detail", when just a small section of the work is displayed?

Camouflage Danse "Nausea and Fear" video still.

Are thumbnails of any value, even if you never want, or for some reason are unable, to view the films from which they have emerged?

Str8 Sounds "Star Burner: Phase Shift Shimmy" video still.

Vimeo, under Settings > Thumbnail, enables video uploaders to select a thumbnail (to replace their default selection) from 12 different images, or you can upload your own. YouTube gives you, under Edit Video, a choice of three images. The images in this post are from my Vimeo uploads.

Str8 Sounds "Taxidermy Clinic" video still.

Twitter is the new TV

Tweet 1

Twitter is the new TV. It's what's on now.

By selectively Following some Followers of smart folk, you build audience of potentiality.


If you hang out at Twitter, and you Follow the right people or media outlets, you get lightning fast reports on events happening, as they happen, often with links to the source of the story. So Twitter can act as a headline news update channel, with a variety of citizen journalist and mainstream media input.

Many people spend seemingly all day and night on Twitter. It's creepy when you dip into the stream several times a day, and the same people tend to reply immediately to what you tweet. It's like TV to them. They can't tear their eyes from it.

Twitter has value to you personally when you gradually build an audience by carefully identifying smart folk to follow (book authors, pundits, experts, etc.), then picking and choosing which of their Followers seem worthy of interacting with.

Your ever expanding pool of Followers grows as people @ you, reply to your tweets, and you check their Profile to see what kind of information they submit, and if you value their content enough to Follow them.

This is similar to programming your television or DVR recording unit to pick up certain select stations.

Like TV, the broadcasting is constant, most of it irrelevant and boring, but gems are there and some Twitter channels have rich content of good value. By clicking on the Profile of a Twitter user, you can see their last 20 tweets, and Older ones to a certain limit (not all 4,000 or whatever number of messages they've posted since they started).

When you have a good batch of Followers and people you Follow, you can then ask questions, directly via DM, or to your whole audience, and get good answers, suggestions, and ideas. Twitter pals will watch your back. You tweet that you're about to do something, and a Twitter pal warns or scolds you to think twice about it.

Tweet 2

Twitter can be used narcissistically to entertain exhibitionistically.

Twitter can be used to provide value, insight, links, inspiration.


Even smart folk can slip into the "random details of my mundane life are, doggone it, interesting" syndrome. It's not technically wrong to tweet about your lunch, or what airport you're stuck at, or what tech conference you're getting drunk at. It's not necessarily better to be profound or complex or provocative. Perhaps a bit of both extremes would be nice. Self-absorbed, with occasional insights.

But only if you're just a regular individual.

Companies and consultants need to be squarely on the side of providing value for others, in all their communication channels, including Twitter.

As with blogs and websites, a messaging platform is only inconsequential when the content is trivial or when nobody's using it. People are using Twitter in growing numbers, both commercial and personal accounts. Corporations who use Twitter succeed by letting the Twitter representative be a distinct person, mission focused, and free to interact in a friendly, non-business manner in a defined set of parameters.

Individuals also can build prestige and respect by providing value in their Twitter messages. Instead of just expressing feelings and random thoughts, you can occasionally contribute something that others can benefit from.

Reviews of films, links to cool or helpful websites, online sources of book contents, music sites, online art, funny YouTube videos. Things your elders taught you that now appear to be correct. Jokes heard in the office. Advice on some aspect of a hobby you're good at. Recommendation of a product or book or film or band you like.

Some use Twitter just to stay in touch with a circle of friends and colleagues. While this can tend to be sleep-inducing to those outside that limited sphere, they find value in having fast status updates that are easier than email to send.

No matter how private and clique-ish your Twitter universe is, it never hurts to contribute valuable content to it. Impress your close pals with witty remarks, practical tips, and good advice.

Other-centric: the key to social interactions.

Tweet 3

Twitter can be used as asychronous chatroom, status updater, micro-debate platform, customer service desk, friendly hangout, blog promotion.

Twitter is the new TV.

What's on your channel today?

Thursday, February 26, 2009

preliminary notes on Twitter Strategy and Methodology

You can have fun interacting with others online via micro-blogging / status updating. You gradually assemble an audience of Followers on Twitter, Jaiku, Pownce, or some other short message service social network.

It's easier than email, and in some cases, a far more effective communication tool. There are many users, including myself, who pay more attention to their Twitter page than they do to their phone messages and email inboxes. Twitter is being used as the hot line, the direct route to fast, though brief, responses.

But why are you on Twitter?

What's your purpose or goal?

Reasons for being on Twitter:

* Make friends

* Share expertise

* Help others with non-self serving advice

* Discuss topics with others

* Share links to useful or interesting websites and online tools

* Distribute product information/benefits/testimonials

* Interact with others in your field

* Promote links to your blog posts (Twitter acts as an RSS type feed to your Followers)

* Engage in corporate PR

* Provide customer service (@richardatDELL and @comcastcares)

* Conduct customer research

* Drive traffic to ecommerce websites

* Seek the expertise of others

* Ask questions

* Tell jokes

* Encourage and persuade

* Inspire and educate

* Seek emotional support

* Let off steam by ranting

You may do all the above, or just a few. Some of these reasons for using Twitter may be beneath your dignity, or not in keeping with your personal style. Each Twitter user has their own style, content, and motivations.

When a Twitter user's profile is mostly @ s, replies to others, it looks like they're really into interacting. They're using Twitter as a chat room tool. It's probably messages about their life, their lunch, and their loved ones. It's not better or worse than other styles of Twittering, it's just one of the common styles.

In many ways, the Twittersphere is similar to the Blogosphere. Personal matters are discussed and global concepts are debated. Some users are irrelevant and not interesting. Some users are profound and thought provoking. Most are charmingly mundane and occasionally brilliant.

Professional users (consultants, businesses, marketers, pundits, authors, thought leaders) tend to blend several composition styles, communication strategies, and content types. Reports on airline delays, new gadgets, and tech conferences are the filler that professionals tend to provide, making us suffer right along with them.

It's always nice to announce you're about to do something (delete a blog), and be scolded by another Twitter user that your intended act is mistaken (spammers will use your old blog name).

Google favors Twitter, Jaiku, Pownce and other microblog tools. Why? Because Twitter content is fresh and frequent. Watch the SEO magic you get from Twittering links to your blog or website. Watch how you can increase rankings for keywords. It's very powerful for optimizing traffic to your websites, but you'll annoy fellow Twitter members if you're excessively self-promotional.

If your Twitter strategy includes promoting and sharing your expertise, keep a notebook handy.

Jot down thoughts as you watch the cable TV news or listen to radio programs like NPR. Copy names of books, films, products, personalities, or events you want to research or make remarks about. If these items can be, or are, related to your field, you can demonstrate that you're up on all the latest trends in your industry.

Put the Twitter update widget in your sidebar. This window into your Twitter messaging will then act as "hot new tips and insights", promoting your tweets right there on your flagship blog. Every time someone visits your blog, your latest material, your Twitter tweets, are there for all to see.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Changing the Twitter Question

When you first experience Twitter, as an account holding user, your first problem, is passing a test. The pop quiz that confronts you is a simple, innocent-sounding question astride a 140 character limit text entry box.

"What are you doing?" is the famous query that most non-Twitter users think is boring, irrelevant to them, and time wasting. "Who cares what I'm doing?" they muse. "Why should I care what anybody's doing at any given second?" they wonder.

At first, most new Twitter users probably just slavishly obey the question, and tell what physical action they are engaged in: "eating a tuna sandwich", "sitting in the Peoria Airport for six hours due to a canceled flight", or "laughing at Mr. Uh Robert Um Gibbs".

Your first "tweets" (Twitter messages) are probably mundane, frivolous accounts of what position your body is in, whether you're alive or dead, asleep or awake, and what you're eating or listening to on you iPod.

Eventually, if you have any brains, you start posting "profound tweets" expressing your caustic opinions. You quickly learn how to state things in a brief, concise manner, which is the opposite of your old slomo blog post prolixities and verbal gushings in blog comments.

From long boring blog short, snappy Twitter messages. A marketable skill and a giant step in human communications evolution. We're so proud of you!

But one day you wake up, say good morning to your Twitter pals, and start wondering if that "What are you doing?" question could be improved. Your curiosity flames are fanned by @megfowler who was discussing this topic, in terms of newbies, on Twitter.

Let's try to improve Twitter!

What would be a better question, for newbies or old veteran users, to hover above the Twitter status update box?

Here are some suggestions for the badly needed...

REVISED Twitter Question:

* What are you thinking?

* What are you drinking?

* What are you wearing?

* What are you smelling? (Oh that, it's just another stimulus package bailout!)

* What are you doing -- and try not to sound so stupid this time!

* What the hell is wrong with you?

* What crime are you committing?

* What are you fantasizing?

* What are you wanting stimulus money for?

* WTF? You better have something to good to say in the box below:"

* WTF are you doing on Twitter again? Say something that has value or is funny, no more trivia about airports you're waiting in!

* What are not doing, but should be doing, and ought to do, once you get your Twitter-addicted ass off Twitter?

* What are you tattooing on the internet for all eternity by entering what you're doing in the text entry box below?

As people respond to my Twitter tweet about changing the Twitter question, I'll post their suggestions to update this post!

What say you?


Saturday, February 21, 2009

customer service still sucks

Bad customer service equals business death.

If you don't know how to kiss your customer's ass, you better get down on your meager humility and learn. There will now be fewer purchases, lower sales frequency, and declining markets. Only the customer-centric will survive. If your business is still guided by a mission statement, marketing campaign, or PR fluff, you're doomed.

Passion for solving a customer's problem, or enhancing their life. That's what's most important, not profits, not increased production, not expansion into new markets. Serve the customers you already have. Start being nicer, more generous, more attentive to the client or user closest to you right now.

Increase your knowledge of the industry, processes, consumer psychology, and depth motivations. Continually improve your product or expertise. Transform satisfied customers into passionate word of mouth ambassadors, by treating them better and giving them more.

Most customer service STILL sucks. Even in this economic downturn, it STILL sucks. Can you believe it?

Here's a great example from a recent event. Last night my wife went to a new hair stylist. She waited until 15 minutes past her appointment time. When she inquired at the front desk, my wife was informed, after some disorganized whispering and calendar checking, that her stylist had not come in, and would she like to re-schedule?

My wife said no, and a few other things, and left. Never to return to this beauty salon.

How much do you value your customers?

How valuable, kind, and generous, in time and effort, are you to your clients?

Do you abandon them after a major project?

Do you offer to do extra work, add something cool, enhance an application, train them in some technique you're good at?

Customers are getting pickier. The economy is in ruins. You can't afford to spend a lot of money acquiring new customers and you can't afford to lose current customers.

Improve your customer relations now.

Friday, February 20, 2009


Policy in business, trade, and commerce must never come from top down, must always be from bottom (The People/Users) up. We determine all. It's a user-generated content world now, and growing more so every day. Our content comes with its own rules, politics, and faith.

People pay less attention to ads and slogans, and turn more to each other for information on products. Business communications lack credibility, from brochures to websites. It's a new information world now, and corporations don't control it.

Marketing is bringing news about a product to those who have a problem the product can solve. The customer always knows more about using a product than the company does. User experience creates "brand" = how it solves customer problems or enhances their life.

Ad agencies create slogans, not brands. Brands are not euphorias (feelings ad agencies want you to associate with a product) or positions (mental definitions of a product and why it's better than the competitors).

Brand is what's burned in your head as you use a product to accomplish a goal or task or to assuage a gratification.
You don't give a damn what the jingle or paid celebrity says: your experience of the product in action is what forms your ultimate opinion of it, even though the ads may have tricked you into buying it once.

Thus, users create the "brand", the image and words ("This sucks!" or "I love this!") associated with using the product, as they use it. Even though sometimes fashionability beats usability, still, if a fad item is too unusable or dysfunctional, trendiness will be demoted and a better item will be searched for by the disenchanted customer.

If the user-generated "branding/burning in mind" does not jive with the ad agency "branding" they attempt to impose, sales won't increase over the long term, and credibility will be impaired and difficult to regain.

Your customers are the real CEO of your company. It's their vision and dreams that create products, via manufacturers to whom fulfillment of user needs has priority over profits. Be user-focused, customer-centric.

Customer service, when done correctly, provides vast amounts of valid and actionable intelligence about the market and future trends, as they arise in the minds and hearts of consumers interacting with each other globally.

The heart of your company is never the mission statement. It's the needs and complaints and desires and nostalgia of your customers. These are the elements that drive your business goals, if you wish to survive and succeed.

Ignore your CEO for a while.

Start conversations with current customers and competitor loyalists and uncommitted average consumers of your products.

Get your advertising ideas from users, not universities.

Get your innovation concepts from customers, not business book best-sellers.

Get your sales techniques from knowing how customers feel about sales people and learn to listen to the way your customers would prefer to be sold: to be helped, not bullied or scammed.

Your customers will even give you the words you need for your website, after a professional edits them a bit.


The secret to business survival.