The Flying Car is Just Around the Corner

Screw you, flying car. You haven’t been invited, and you never will be. Screw you, Fox News. I’ll believe it when I’m riding a terraguia flying car that cost less than $50K. I’ll be riding it with my hover board under my seat, and the animated head of Walt Disney on my lap. 

Sure we'll have flying cars as soon as we invent time machines and hover boards.

Sometimes when you’re trying to be controversial, you end up being right. Around 2001 I kept hearing that “electronic medical records” (EMR) were just “one or two years away.” I’ve since joked that it is indeed “one year away” perpetually (no matter what the year is). I’ve not been significantly wrong yet.

Here are some more pathetically pessimistic statements I’ve made about the future of technology and advertising, but they haven’t failed me yet. If I’m right, please remember that. If I’m wrong, I respectfully which to join the top 87 bad predictions about the future (that have been wrong). Perhaps I shall rank as high as “Everything that can be invented has been invented,” which is attributed to Charles H. Duell, an official at the US patent office in 1899.

  • Mobile-Marketing: While working at KPMG Consulting more than a decade ago, I was asked to speak about the future of mobile marketing. Naturally I knew almost nothing about the subject but most didn’t. So I did some fast research and made up some decent crap that seemed plausible. Then, to ensure I put my own touch on it, I expressed a contrarian opinion or two. Most over-zealous experts were predicting that we were just years away from mobile ads that gave you real-time promotions based on geographic proximity. The most-viral example was a Starbucks “offer” that summoned a person back if their device’s GPS told the advertising network that the individual passed a store (see parody below). So I cried “nonsense,” and said those wouldn’t be coming for a very long time, and that usage would be minimal. Just a hunch, but I was right. Here we are 11 years later and here’s 8coupon and how many people use these things? >>> Sure mobile marketing is a big deal, but we’re not idiots… we’re going to find ways to ignore intrusive spam and let very select companies and brands into our smart phones. Or, arguably the phones (and their owners) are not really smart, right?

  • What's the matter, Coyote? Did you step onto that TOTALLY fake hole. It's just a piece of black circular velvet, dude.

    Customized Marketing: Yeah, right. The Tom Cruise scene in “Minority Report,” created the character with competing talking voices by ads mentioning his name and specific tastes. I cried “bullshit” because Chief John Anderten (Cruise’s character) clearly hadn’t opted in for so many programs. Furthermore the audio delivery would need to be incredibly precise to target an individual’s ear without spillover. And did I mention that fake hole the Coyote uses with Road Runner is total and complete bogus. I’m so sure. A black circular sheet that creates a whole wherever you place it. Utter bullshit. We barely ever see custom digital ads, which would be incredibly easy to create and deliver. It’s because media buyers are too dumb and lazy (except you, dear reader). >>> We’ll get better at custom marketing, but the vast majority will not be conspicuously targeted. It’s best that the buyer not know the magic we’re using to reach them. It’s creepy.

  • Y2K Will Be Anticlimactic: Having a contrarian opinion about a popular belief makes you more interesting and credible. Like when I did a Y2K interview I decided to take the “nothing bad is going to happen” approach. I had no real facts, but I figured if I was wrong nobody would remember. And if I was right I’d be a genius (which, of course, I am). >>> Most of the warnings of Y2K turned out to be hogwash. One of my sisters packed a “Surviving the Apocalypse” supply of food and water, and still has it. Another called me in tears in the last minutes of 1999.
  • No Flying Cars: When I spoke last fall at my son’s fourth-grade class (about writing and my book) I told them that when they’re adults they will desperately need to write, even if that writing may occur in radically different ways (like using the voice or swiping the fingers in the air). Ways they couldn’t even imagine. Then I told them when I was in fourth grade I predicted flying cars by the age of 2000, and I was wrong. Before I could observe what was coming out of my mouth, I heard my lips say with great ferver, “there will NEVER be flying cars.” >>>> Sure the elite might have magical flying cars, but I don’t see them as a travelling device for the unwashed masses. Too many accidents in the sky, a place that does not very well accommodate such things as red lights, speed bumps, stop signs, and white/yellow paint. Sure could find electronic equivalents, but I’m betting it’s not in any reader’s lifetime.

And now here’s PC Magazine showing the 12 flying cars that led to Terrafugia. Yeah, right. Terrafugia (see commercial example). George Jetson called. He wants his briefcase packed with a flying car back.

"The flying car, something I imagined in fourth grade, will never happen," I said.

YouTube Comedy Analysis: Thanks Will Reese

Friday I did a “call for crowdsource help” on the YouTube/Comedy research I’m presenting at next week’s ISHS presentation. A big thanks for your comments, and especially to Will Reese. Check out this graphic…

Parodies represent the most-favorited YouTube comedy videos

Will’s categories (farce, dark, screwball, slapstick, parody, satire) were his own creation, and he found this interesting discover. Over shorter periods of time, a comedic video’s type is more likely to be diverse. Over longer periods of time, there’s more similarity.

Thanks also to Kiddsock, who is working on some analysis. Check out the sock puppet on YouTube because he’s underrated!

Now let’s observe some comments from YouTube, that are interesting even if not terribly helpful:

I’m afraid crowd humor is based on pain and fear and it freightens me. I think when its constructive pain and fear, like learning something new about yourself or others and reaching for the “good” it is really the funniest and is contagious. (carolperez)

I don’t really think people know what funny is any more. Everyone has conformed to this sick minded society and can turn something so innocent into something so wrong and laugh about it. Just the other day my roommate came upstairs laughing because he had watched a fake Steve Irwin death video. So explain to me how anyone in there right mind would find something like that funny. I know I am probably not making any since at all but what I’m trying to say is to make the people of the world laugh (Welcome2Broadway)

I do agree that some popular videos are sad statements on how our humor can be cruel or mean spirited, but I am not feeling like that’s “on the rise” permanently. I believe the anonymity of social media and online-video provides a temporary release for the darker side of humor, but that in the long run… good natured comedy will prevail.

P.S. Will Reese background: When in 1999 I saw the Internet as becoming a BFD, I joined a company called “Frontier Media Group,” which was evolving from a multi-media creator (video, kiosks, interactive CDs/DVDs) to a web-strategy firm. It was later acquired by Qwest telcom, and spun off to Cadient. That’s where I met Will, who was a lowly project lead at the time. Now he’s the company’s brain, and I’ve had the pleasure of watching him in pitches at major companies. If you’re pitching against Will, walk away.

“Funny or Die” Defeats Death. And Gets My Secret Sauce to a Phoenix-Like Revival.

In a brave move by Will Ferrell, Adam McKay and their gang, Funny or Die has finally moved its content to YouTube. The FunnyorDie website has always had an identity-crisis. It certainly wasn’t a sage financially-driven move, but a fantastic creative outlet for spontaneous and risque comedy by Ferrell, McKay and friends.

funny or die ferrell landlord screen shot

It was a bold moment where the actors and writers stood before the public — without layers of intermediaries muting their brilliance. Could Hollywood have produced Pearl The Landlord? The most epic star-created viral video ever (and interestingly not appearing on the YouTube FunnyorDie channel).

Then other stars jumped on the bandwagon. While the site was rarely “top of mind” even for comedy enthusiasts, every few months something would draw us all back for a reunion. In the spaces between, there were dips in recurring traffic despite some great star-powered comedy. Furthermore the site wasn’t sure if it was a pet project, a consumer-generated content play, or a mini television studio. It was, in fact, all of that.

A partnership with YouTube will now give the team a recurring audience, which takes the pressure off the “hot viral” clips that would remind us exists. And it will most likely drive more traffic to FunnyorDie than the site would get otherwise (especially if the team is smart about how it teases content is keeps exclusively on FunnyorDie). I’m not sure I’d advise the CollegeHumor approach of posting content 1 month prior on its own site. Instead, I’d post best-of content and occasionally have Ferrell talk to his subscribers about what’s new in his life and on FunnyorDie.

Remember, FunnyorDie… the most popular and most-subscribed YouTube channels aren’t networks as much as people. Give Ferrell or McKay a Flipcam once a week and post weird unedited stuff…. then you’re sitting on traffic gold you can monetize on YouTube and back on FunnyorDie.

Here’s what I find most interesting and maybe concerning to the FOD folks. Despite a significant push by YouTube (featured ‘n spotlighted videos), we’re seeing only 20K subscribers to date. Compare that to the nearly 500K subscribers TheStation picked up in just weeks (due to its already popular YouTube “star” cast promoting it). TheStation picked up 20K in about 45 seconds.

Here’s where the “blatant self promotion” comes in (it’s disclaimed in the damned masthead, people). I first established a Nalts FunnyorDie account I wrote Will Ferrell a note naively thinking he might write back. Well here’s an open public invite, Mr. Ferrell. I will promote the living crap out of “Funny or Die” on YouTube to my 150,000 plus subscribers. Just let me meet you for 7 minutes and get some footage. We’ll do a collaboration, which is the fastest way to get a loyal for you to pick up a loyal YouTube following (see my free eBook “How to Become Popular on YouTube Without Any Talent” to learn more). After these 7 minutes or up, I’d like you to scream at me to leave. And I will.

I’m serious. A Nalts Will Ferrell collaboration. I’ll meet you anywhere, sir… New York anytime. In San Bruno during Thanksgiving. Toronto next week. You make me proud to be a middle-aged guy with a spare tire. I just want to bite your arm. Not a flesh-piercing bite. More like a gentle but awkward nibble. It won’t hurt.

Tag Junking Doesn’t Get You Video Views, Captain

Dear video creator…  Somewhere on the web you found this collection of keywords, and someone convinced you that they’ll drive views. The good news is you’re not alone. It’s a batch that appears in many videos, and evidence that some “view genius” has promised you it will get you famous.

Give it up captain. Go read my dated but free “How to Become Popular on YouTube Without Any Talent,” and forget the tags.

Remember- Google no longer crawls metatags of websites, so I’m seriously doubting that tag junking is going to do much for you on YouTube… except for annoying creators who monitor their own usernames to see who’s hating on ’em this week…

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This Post Will Make You Hungry

If the folks at Twinkie sent me a crate of these timeless snack foods I’d make them part of my banner, and totally demote the piece of cheese. This is in honor of Jan, for her patience and persistence.