“Am I Pretty or Ugly” Girl Pretends to Be 21-Year-Old Artist

Sophie Roessler’s “Am ¬†I Pretty or Ugly” video caught some media attention and a quarter of a million views.

So what did the tween do? Like anyone else, she pretended to be a 21-year-old artist who knows all about the “struggles a girl transitioning into womanhood must go through.

Roessler claimed the video “acted as a social experiment as well as commentary on this disturbing trend, and has recently gained a lot of media attention, from jezebel.com to Good Morning America.”

Whatver, Sophie. You’re pretty. A pretty good tween liar.

What Camera Should I Buy: Holidays 2011

What digital camera should I buy? It’s a question I get a lot, so I’ve identified some favorites with the help of Consumer Reports.

If you’re gonna buy one, follow the links, eh? They’re affiliate links so I get a small percent and you pay the same price you’d pay going on Amazon directly. ūüôā

Best digital camera december 2011
  1. Looking for a low-priced but highly rated slim camera? The Panasonic DMC-FH25K tops the ratings on Amazon. It’s $146 bucks.
  2. Looking for a mid-priced advanced feature “point and shoot”? The Canon Powershot G12 tops the list. It’s a steal at $379 with top ratings by Consumer Reports and high consumer ratings on Amazon.
  3. Looking for a smaller, lighter camera that still allows you to change the lense? That’s either the Sony SLT-A55VL¬†($799) or the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2 (also $799) that I own. It takes great pictures and video, and I like the depth of field with the lense.
  4. Finally, looking for an SLR with more advanced features? Check the Canon EOS 60D ($1119) or Nikon D7000¬†($1499). These are obviously for advanced users as they’re not cheap. If you feel like buying me a Christmas present either one would be fabulous.

Then there’s this option if you’re in debt like me, and are feeling¬†nostalgic.

YouTube Goes Music, Music, Music

It's just like this, only the radio is a laptop, and everyone's in a different room wearing gym clothes.

YouTube has¬†agreed to pay licensing fees with¬†the National Music Publishers Association (NMPA), which represents about 3,000 independent music publishers (LA Times). This deal is consistant with Vevo’s success, the significant percentage of music videos topping “most viewed charts” and the all-new YouTube.com/music (see promo video).

YouTube music vevo channel
YouTube "Music" Debuts: click to see promo video

YouTube, friends, is your new radio station, MTV, iTunes, Pandora, Jango, Live365. I’m Sirius.

This advances YouTube’s partnerships with music publishers to “monetize” user-generated videos that contain music written by artists¬†represented by the NMPA. The four major labels (EMI Music Group, Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group and Sony Music Entertainment) already have separate licensing contracts with YouTube.

What’s relatively new is that these deals cover synchronization rights on behalf of songwriters. Yes, folks, this means independent musicians singing “covers” of a licensed song will be providing a percent of their ad-generated income to the owner (sorry jaaaaaaa). The terms of the royalty payments, however, are confidential. This, of course, is more than fair. Shouldn’t the guy who wrote the timeless classic, “Never Gonna Give You Up” get a chunk money from the ads that surround Rickrolls?

NMPA agreed to drop its class-action lawsuit against YouTube filed in 2007, but members of NMPA have until mid-September to decide whether they wish to opt out of the licensing agreement with YouTube or continue to pursue legal action against the video platform on their own.



How To Get YouTube Views and Subscribers Without Getting Scammed

How can I get YouTube views and subscribers without getting scammed? Here’s a video that discourages the use of bots, cheats and ridiculous purchase of views and subscribers (on eBay and other services found on Google searches).

There’s no “magic bullet” or proven way to get views and subscribers overnight (although that can happen with particularly viral videos). Instead, try a) optimism and persistence, b) collaborating and being social (interacting) with viewers and people who already have an audience (give them a reason to “shout you out” or embed your video, don’t beg or pay), and c) learn… links in the video description to my free eBook (How To Get Popular on YouTube Without Any Talent) and book (Beyond Viral).

What Cisco’s Flip-Flop Means To You

A once $200 portable video camera (Flip Mino HD) for $87. Not too shabby.

Online-video was heavily influenced by the popular Flip cameras because they were easy to use and convert to YouTube. I was somewhat disheartened by Cisco’s decision to buy Flip in March 2009, but hey… what’s $590 million on 2009 sales of more than $36 billion, right? Large tech companies have made stranger acquisitions (IBM/PWC).

I was more surprised that Cisco, a B2B network leader, flip-flopped by shutting down Flip this spring. Many applauded the move due to Flip’s pressure from real-time gratification of video-enabled phones and less expensive camera/video hybrids. But I’d argue Flip had a sustainable niche if it continued to innovate and partner, as well as broaden the range of its cameras to include less expensive versions or slightly higher end cameras (with such features as an optional zoom lense or mic inputs).

Flip’s competitive advantage was its ultra simplicity and soup-to-nuts functionality. How many other manufacturers embed IBM and Mac-friendly software that is user-friendly and fairly functional?

I’ll go out on a limb here (with no other information than gut) and speculate that some electronic manufacturer will make an offer on Flip to acquire its brand equity, patents and software. However I imagine Cisco’s pride will make it difficult to allow the transfer. While Cisco has little use for Flip’s remaining assets, cognitive dissonance usually prevents buying something for half a billion and selling it for tens of millions (what I imagine it’s worth).

But let’s get to you. What does this mean to YOU? Right now Flips are hyper affordable, and the best bang-for-the-buck in the space. If you can live with the paranoia of Flip’s¬†inevitable¬†decision to stop servicing them (an irrational concern given the lifecycle of these), they’re a steal. I picked up the Flip Mino HD for $100 at Staples tonight, and it’s only $87 on Amazon. Yes- a Flip Mino HD for $87. Less than a year and a half ago (Sept. 2010) this puppy was debuted at about $200. Jan wanted me to tell you the Flip Mino HD with 8GB ($99) is a better deal. I guess it depends on how much you shoot… I usually clear the camera before it gets close to an hour.

Sure, you might prefer picking up a Canon Powershot A300IS for about the same price, and I couldn’t blame you. Nice camera. Or you could check out this buying guide and find something with better features, and even better audio.

Is the Flip the best in the portable videocamera market? Not anymore. But the reality is that it’s small, pretty darned good, inexpensive, and easy to use. And while we’ll eventually be happy with our Smart Phone videocameras, they’re still not offering great video quality or audio… and they’re a pain in the ass to use to edit and upload. Getting video off the iPhone and onto a computer is a pain in the ass. Plus I often want to operate both at the same time, and I’m not pleased with the iPhone 4 video quality. Furthermore, the iPhone’s slow speed and unpredictability of the “upload to YouTube” feature is weak… it compresses it poorly unless you’re on a wifi or local network.

NYU Professor Mounts Camera on Back of Head

No doubt tired of the student’s “kick me I’m a unibrow” signs put on his ass,
an NYU professor had a camera mounted surgically to the back of his head.
No, really. I’m not kidding. If I made this up, I’d have made it less weird.

unibrow professor gets third eye
Students at NYU say they'll miss sneaking up on the professor to pull down his pants and push him over.

Wafaa Bilal, a professor at New York University, had the camera mounted on the back of his skull, and is recording everything he’s already seen. It’s actually taking single images for 24-7, and I’m sure the resulting collage will be interesting — assuming he edits out sleeping. I’m not sure there’s a large global audience for a tight shot of Bilal’s pillow.

Professor, Bilal, if you’re watching… I will trade you a free guest lecture (author of Beyond Viral) just for the opportunity to see this contraption… and maybe giggle a bit. If we do a collab video, I think it’s best if you play the straight.

If you don’t reply, I might just stalk you down when I’m in NYC on Wednesday, and hold a copy of the book to the back of your head (or moon you). Then I’ll dive into the bushes if you turn around… and giggle quietly about the image of you reviewing the jpegs the next day.

He see's you when you're following him... so be good for goodness sakes.

You’re Ugly

Oh sorry. I wasn’t speaking to you. I was talking to the blog.

Would value your tips on improving the look and experience of this blog. I used to enjoy interacting more with commenters, but now “new comments” has been demoted visually beneath the big book.

So a few thoughts, and welcome yours:

1) More photos, shorter copy. That’s on me.

2) Better masthead. This one’s too salesy and big. Quirky but professional , and¬†aesthetic¬†would be better. Anyone good at that?

3) Community first… make it easy to comment from any profile and encourage it… I may be able to customize Thesis to do that. But if you know of a newer and better wordpress plugin/theme please let me know.

Thanks! I really want a simple visual cue on what new blog posts are generating comments… Sorting “most read” blog posts is good for the noob but I’m more interested in the loyalists.

P.S. As Uncle Seth sayz, less is more. This thing’s a bit too overwhelming maybe.


YouTube Thumbnail Isn’t Center Frame Anymore

For the last few videos I’ve uploaded to YouTube, I’ve discovered a disturbing trend. The default thumbnail (image that represents the video) isn’t predictable. YouTube appeared to be departing from the model of using the center frame and the 1/3 and 2/3 frame.

At the risk of spreading potential Twitter rumors, a little birdie says the center frame as thumbnail is RIP.

This is a really big deal if it’s not another technical glitch. I’ve discovered that almost nothing makes a video like the thumbnail. Not the title, creator, or content.

Many sites allow you to select from as many as 12 images. Some sites let you keep selecting/refreshing until you find just the right one (and even crop it). And there are even sites that allow you to upload a jpeg to represent the video.

So why would YouTube make it more difficult? Because thumbnails are often manipulated and because… YouTube can do whatever it wants now. The switching costs for viewers/creators is huge, and so we have¬†a virtual monopoly.¬†

Here’s hoping reason prevails. It would be a shame to subject a creator (and viewer) to a random thumbnail. Unless a different thumbnail appears each time someone refreshes the video (which is far too complex for servers) then there’s a simple solution…

Upload OVER AND OVER until you get the one you like.
Yeah! That’ll spin some bandwidth.

This is especially an issue a problem as¬†Google provides a new way to search video thumbnails without ever going to YouTube.¬†Did you notice that if you now search Google for the word YouTube, you can refine your video search without leaving Google’s homepage? Interesting move and one that would appear to be good for viewers but unclear as to whether that helps/harms revenue for Google. Fewer display ads (Google results don’t have them) but perhaps a higher CPC (cost per click) and more opportunities to serve the text ad.

youtube google search refined