Who’s in charge?

The Presidents of the United States of America, have released a music video that was shot on cell phones. I thought it was an interesting connection to the movement towards “user controlled” content, on the Web. There’s a big race in interactive marketing between people that feel that the Web is moving towards personalizing everything to people’s tastes, or whether it’s moving more towards being this great, vast resource of public knowledge and information sharing. The good news is that it will probably continue to do both.

Examples, every other day Google seems to launch a new and amazing feature. And every time I go to see the new feature, it always feels like it shouldn’t be so impressive, and yet it is. Take Google Video for example. Google has created a place to archive videos on the Web. Why is that novel? There seem to be a million other places to upload, store and share videos…. but they don’t have the power of Google. What is the power of Google you ask?

Ask the Chinese Students who threw up a video of them messing around to pop music and found themselves all over American TV for doing it. Google is so wide-spread that they can impact the entire Web, even when they seem to just be doing a “Google-version” of something someone else has done. Simple and smart. That’s just google.

So, it would seem that the “making the Web more of a vast, resource” people are winning over the “make the Web as personalized a tool as possible” people… but then you look at sites like Flickr who are offering a place to upload, store and share your photographs, but have incorporated a “tagging” system that allows you to set the categories that your photos fit into. So instead of going to Google, who have built a complex indexing and searching system for other people’s content based on popular keywords and a whole bunch of mathematical genius, you go to Flickr and you search for a photo of “Seattle” and you get anything from a shot of Seattle’s skyline to a picture of someone’s hotel room during their last business trip to Seattle. And you can add your own “tag” to it, so if you see a photo and think “No, I wouldn’t think Seattle when I see that photo, I’d think ‘Sleazy Hotel'” you can add that to the photograph and that photo will show up if someone searches “Sleazy Hotel” or “Seattle” … so the more people that use it and add “tags” the more complex and interesting the connections will be.

Another site that is putting this idea into practice is Del.icio.us which is being called a “Social Bookmarking System”, so instead of tagging photographs, you store all of your internet bookmarks in Delicious (which allows you to access them from any computer) and then share your bookmarks with people that you give permission to (your “friends list”). Again the idea here is that by opening up the way you think and organize your information and sharing that with others, you will begin to make connections that you might not have ordinarily made…

– Sites you would not have seen before
– Learn more about the people in your network (more business connections, personal connections, etc…)
– Make it easier to find things in the future

So… I guess “massive personalization” is giving “massive organization” a run for its money…

Which one will win? Well, I think they are on a crash course. At some point you’ll be able to have instant access to just about any piece of information in the world, and the interface you use to get to this information will be drawing from all of your personal connections, the RSS feeds you subscribe to, really amazing search engines and a whole set of AI that filters out links and connections that are not going to be useful to you…

It’s cool to see how it’s all converging… and even cooler to see that the artists are embracing it as much as the capitalists. I read a great article about MTV2’s “Video Mods” (mod = modified) where people are taking video game characters and manipulating them with their computers to appear like they are perfoming in music videos. (Think of Super Mario lip synching to a Kanye West song, where the stage and the whole environment is actually the video game visual). They were talking in the article (I think it was Southwest Airlines in-flight magazine, that or the San Francisco Chronicle… don’t remember) about how they got the idea at MTV and how they loved it because it also challenges the young generation – the ones who can do anything with a computer – to combine two things they really love… video games and music videos, into a whole new art form called “Machinima” (check out Machinima.com for somemore Video Mods).

Just some recent things I’ve seen that have intrigued me and continue my belief that we’re only beginning to understand the power of the Internet.

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