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Video editing fun with Remixer

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Check out the latest out of Yahoo Research Labs. Save & edit your favorite clips from the SF International Film Festival, re-arrange, lay down a soundtrack and share.

. . . developed in collaboration with Yahoo! Research Berkeley and the Institute for Next Generation Internet at San Francisco State University. Besides the online gallery, a selection of the best remixes will screen at Edinburgh Castle.

I really look forward to coming back and seeing what people put together. Totally amazing! Remixer.

“Human social networks constitute a habitable environment and a giant playground for memes.”

UC Berkeley grad student Sean Savage writes about social networks from the perpective of machines, corporations, and memes. Sean’s post pokes fun but is also a useful reminder of how insular and kinda creepy all this talk about "social media" must sound to the person on the street.

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How do you define “Social Media”

I joined Havi Hoffman (a Social Media partner in crime here at Yahoo) and Stowe Boyd for coffee in Palo Alto this morning and asked Stowe if he would come up with a two line definition of “social media.” He took a shot at it and came up with a good working definition that I look forward to seeing polished over the next few days.

Social Media are those forms of publishing that are based on a dynamic interaction, a conversation, between the author and active readers, in contrast with traditional broadcast media where the ‘audience’ is a passive ‘consumer’ of ‘content’. The annotations or social gestures left behind by active readers, such as comments, tags, bookmarks, and trackbacks, create an elaborate topology resting on the foundational blog posts, and this enhanced meta-environment, the blogosphere, is the context for and the realization of a global collaboration to make sense of the world and our place in it.

I especially liked Stowe’s phrase, “social gestures” that he uses to describe the artifacts of the tools that are used to create social media. I would only suggest expanding this to include things like the aggregate votes of users on ratings and review sites because the collective vote on something is also a form of “user-generated content.”

What I really like is the phrase, “making sense of the world and our place in it” because it gets to the greater philosophical question of how your content on the web defines who you are. If it’s cogito ergo sum in the physical world, it follows in the digital world that you are defined and understood by the sum total of everything you contribute to the web. Our collective voice on a subject or theme is going to be the digital representation of our world’s understanding of that topic.

UPDATE: An alternative definition that I learned at ad:tech. Social Media is, “communication and media that doesn’t require interruption.” In other words, media that is used as part of a conversation between two people, media that is personal and relevant to the conversation, not ancillary.

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Tag Cloud

I’m playing around with Tag Cloud and put a large chunk of my OPML into it to see what all the blogs that I watch are talking about. Looks like there’s an unhealthy obsession with Google 😉

I’ve been thinking a lot about how to creatively manage the flow of news that comes across and using ambient technology to aggregate and summarize. Jon Udell talks about a server log that chirps like a cricket if all is well. Extend this to have it bark like a dog if something needs looking at, it would be great to see these same principles on a meta-view of your RSS feeds. My colleague Russell Beattie has done some thinking on a feedback loop for readers to prioritize content and suggest related info. My other colleague Chad Dickerson goes into how Tag Cloud works (and got me into looking at Tag Cloud in the first place) and how it leverages Yahoo’s Term Extraction API to summarize the concepts in what the software has gathered.

The Tag Cloud image above is a screenshot, the realtime image is here.

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James Fallows on Yahoo & Social Media

I was pleased to see this weekend’s piece in the New York Times by James Fallows attempting to get a vision of what is driving Yahoo innovation and scored the following quote from Jeff Weiner, Yahoo’s SVP of Search & Marketing,

“You can look at the evolution of search as a play in three acts,” said Jeff Weiner, the senior vice president for search and marketing. “The first is the ‘public’ Web, where if different people type the same query they’ll all get the same results.” The second, he said, was purely personal search – finding a file or photo, usually on your own machine.

“The third is the one that we are very interested in,” Mr. Weiner said. This is “social” or “community” searching, in which each attempt to find the right restaurant listing, medical advice site, vacation tip or other bit of information takes advantage of other people’s successes and failures in locating the same information.

If you haven’t had a chance to play around with Yahoo’s MyWeb 2.0 beta, check it out and create your own slice of the web with you and your community.

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Penny for your thoughts

Anil Dash writes that Flickr, because it’s generating ad impressions off of content submitted by their users, should share it’s wealth and pay it’s members. Flickr co-founder Caterina Fake replies that there’s more to life than money. I work at Yahoo which recently acquired the Flickr service so you’re excused if you think I’m one-sided on this one but I really do feel that Yahoo is trying to think this one through carefully, in a way that works for everyone. It’s a new world we’re building and traditional business models are being turned inside out. But it’s not only the corporations that need to rethink the traditional profit/loss statement as a way to measure success, it’s also all of us, the
users who interact with these services everyday, that need to rethink how we value these services that serve as great connectors and distribution platforms.

While we cannot ignore the fact that Flickr hosts your high-resolution photos and the bandwidth and storage required to serve them, I align myself most closely with the view put forth by Thomas Hawk. Here’s a guy that’s not even a professional photographer but through the use of the service he’s met other people that he wouldn’t have normally met without the distribution that Flickr provides. He even sold a print to someone for $500 based on a photo that someone spotted on his Flickr photostream.

As a new round of services sprout up around Social Media (think del.ico.us, upcoming, flock) transform themselves from interesting side projects into financially viable businesses it’s useful to keep in mind the delicate balance between time, passion, and reward that keep these communities together and growing. Participation in any community will pay dividends in unexpected ways.

I spent many an evening hand-coding my budding Tokyo Q website back in 1994 with absolutely no promise of return. Money that came in from our generous sponsor Nokia went straight out the door to our columnists and webhost leaving almost nothing for poor old webmaster me. I think over the course of a year my total compensation was somewhere around $400 which doesn’t go far in Tokyo. Yet, I’ve always
thought that the proper way to look at how Tokyo Q paid me was through the people I would have never met had I not been running the site, TQ gave me the experience to talk with confidence about running a online city guide, TQ introduced me to the web which lead to all sorts of career opportunities. Heck, Tokyo Q is still repaying the favor today as juice for this post!

I think we all have stories about “internet karma” and how a helpful post here led to a fruitful connection elsewhere. It’d be great to here from you all on how time or energy you’ve put into the internet was rewarded elsewhere. Please leave a comment if you have a story to share.

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In this new age of, "get your information when you want it & how you want it," more of the heavy consumers of content are starting to burn out from having too much to read. I dread all the unbolded items in my feedreader that are patiently awaiting review.

I’m looking forward to thinking how social networks, recommendation engines, and ambient findability logic can make "staying up-to-date" less stressful.

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Casual Content Creators

In my new role here at Yahoo, I am shifting gears and tone down my focus on corporate blogs and think more about blogging (and other Social Media tools) for the masses. My target audience has shifted from the VP of Marketing or Chief Knowledge Officer to the mother of three in suburban New Jersey. Yahoo makes tools for these folks and I want to consider what tools and information would make their lives richer and fulfilling. I’ll tag posts about these topics with a new category, “Social Media.”

I will continue to post from time to time on corporate blogs because that is an ongoing interest and these posts will continue to be tagged with the “Corporate Blogs” category. I still need to post my thoughts about the recent BlogOn conference in NYC, a recent paper and discussion around “Innovation Creators” being posted by Rod Boothby of Ernst & Young over at innovationcreators.com and IBM’s Willy Chiu & Harriet Pearson discussion on blogging on business.

Evan Williams of Odeo recently posted about casual content creators as it relates specifically to podcasting but his observations ring true for any of the self-publishing tools out there today.

While blogging can be about playing on a world stage to influence, gain audience, and, potentially, monetize (the same goals as most other media), there are millions of people who are happily publishing daily without those motivations. For them, it’s more about expression, self-reflection, and communication.

I call these people “casual content creators.” It’s not just that they’re amateur or part of the great, unwashed, Long Tail. It’s that they’re playing a different game.

Both approaches to publishing are legitimate—and there is certainly a blurry area in between—but the second one is underrated, in my opinion. As we learned at Blogger, it’s what the vast majority of people want to do. And if you set people up with the expectation that, by publishing to the web, they are becoming a “personal publisher” and should strive to be part of the A List (an intimidating concept to most people), you’ll get a very different result than if you give them a casual way to express themselves and share information.

Ev echos Mena Trott’s seminal Blogs, Bandwidth, and Banjos post from over a year ago. To paraphrase, the true revolution will happen when no one thinks of blogging as a defined activity anymore but just one of many tools (which will include podcasting, moblogging, and sharing  calendars) used to communicate or, perhaps more appropriately, stay connected.