Archive for the 'Internet Content' Category

YouTube: The Victorian Edition has a new Slide Show piece up today: What the First Movie Goers Saw.

The piece is an essay that includes 10 short films from the first years of the 20th century.

You can link directly to one of the slide show videos here.

These early films are hard to categorize: Often less than a minute long, they are experimental without being avant-garde (except in one case, which I’ll get to). Perhaps they look oddly modern because of the recent rise of Web video: YouTube has fostered our patience for short clips that would probably look insipid on the big screen, and the spirit of improvisation that thrives on the Web seems alive n the Victorian films, as well.

She writes later:

The novelty of these earliest films, most of which simply offered glimpses of the real world in motion, lasted for about a decade. By 1907, more fictional narratives than documentary scenes were being shot; and by 1915, Charlie Chaplin was using movies to generate a new kind of star power.

I believe the same will hold true of Internet: we will have a period of the “real world” and the documentary, but in time “star power” of one kind or another will take hold.

Go down and look again at the video from Britain’s Got Talent I posted. Notice something: people know when something is better than something else. We actually know when something is really well done — and we respond with approval. (I notice this as a child reading comic books. There was no doubt that the work of Neal Adams, Gen Colan, and Jack Kirby (to name a few of my favorites) was superior to the art of other artists in the field — and I responded with favor to the titles they drew.)

Amateur Hour can only last so long. While I believe that the current “folk art” period of YouTube will always be with us, ultimately the novelty of the new medium and delivery will wear off and people will respond to more professional work.

I think and by 1915, Charlie Chaplin was using movies to generate a new kind of star power.” Chaplin didn’t generate that star-power, the audience did. It was a big thank you for making movies even better than they had been before.

Thus my warning to all the executives around Los Angeles excited about making a killing on “user generated content” (read: “We don’t have to pay actors and writers!”) — This too shall pass.

Some folks are going to come along and make what I call “content-on-purpose.” The same shift that Chaplin created when he took a medium that had been very casual and awkward and brought professionalism, emotion and artistry to bear upon it.

The same thing will happen in a dozen different ways with the Internet.

And at that point the buzz phrase won’t be, “How do you monetize it?” but “Get me the next Chaplin!”


A Perfect YouTube Moment

What would a web blog be without random moments of strange sparkle that could never happen without the Internet?

From Britain’s Got Talent. (The across the pond version of American Idol.)

Did this clip tell a little story? You bet.

(I actually thought it was a fake mash-edit at first!)


A New Chance for the Short Form

In the second half of the 20th-century — especially in the United States — the long form of story telling has ruled.

If you were a writer of any ambition, you were a novelist. If you were a filmmaker, you made features. On Television, sitcoms were only thirty minutes, but a “drama” was a full hour.

Many writers who were essayists by temperament (Don DeLillo, for example), often seemed to writing novels because that’s what you did, shoehorning their ideas into the shape of a long form line of action with many characters carrying the water for the ideas at hand. (Raymond Carver notably bucked the trend against all advice that the novel was “real” writer’s work, continuing to ply his trade with the short story.)

Especially with the visual work of Film and Television, the short form really had no means of distribution or a chance to be seen. (Other than repeats of Warner Bros. cartoons on syndicated kids shows!)

But the Internet is about short and punchy — for now, at least. And I’m thrilled by that. I’m an idea guy — but often the thought of having to find the right way to “stretch” a notion into feature length gives me the trembles. Sometimes I just want to dump an idea out, have the audience enjoy it, and move on.

The form for that hasn’t really been viable for a while. But the Internet wants short. People arrive for a quick break. I think we can move beyond “cat playing piano.” But I think it’s important to realize that for a while short pieces can rule — and rule well. It means re-thinking and re-examining what makes “good” story and good structure.

Currently a lot of the more professional work on the Internet is just a long form story divided into smaller pieces. But suspect this is more out of habit of training and experience than purposeful choice.

As I try to sort out what will work best for the Internet, I’m moving more and more to self-contained, short form work. And in the last couple of weeks I started thinking about the writing off the astounding Jorge Luis Borges.

His short works are packed with amazing ideas… But he never stretches them out to full length form. He will write a review of a book that never existed, or discuss an encyclopedia entry of a nation he invented, tell quickly the life story of a man that reveals one fierce spark of an idea or revelation.

In each of these, he takes a concept that might be stretched out into an overblown piece of writing or film-making, padded with plot and subplot, and instead gets it down and out the door.

He wrote:

“It is a laborious madness and an impoverishing one, the madness of composing vast books — setting out in five hundred pages an idea that can be perfectly related orally in five minutes. The better way to go about it is to pretend that those books already exist, and offer a summary, a commentary on them.”

“…related orally in five minutes…”

That, right there, my friends, is Internet gold. Because what is so much of YouTube, whether it is lonelygirl15 or Woody Allen now finding an afterlife in small clips.

When you bring in the strange or the weird, as Borges does in his short pieces, you also create something that catches the viewer’s eye. And such a piece would give viewers as a group something to mull over, discuss and argue about (always good for the Internet.)

Since I believe that for a while it will be actors’ faces and words that will carry the day on the Internet (the screens are I think to small for visual detail to carry too much weight), I’m delighted by the fact Borges points they way by speaking about “orally” telling the tale in five minutes.

This, anyway, is the direction I’m going as I prepare material for Disney and other companies that are looking for Internet specific content. I’m looking at the works of Borges, Edgar Allen Poe, H. P. Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard and other masters of the short form for inspiration.

I think they have a lot to teach us right now.


“CNN the TV Channel Is No Match for CNN the Website”

I’m just sayin’…

“We’re all pretty convinced that news doesn’t break on TV anymore,” said Eric Bader, senior VP-managing director of digital connections at MediaVest. “Almost everybody across pretty much every economic and age demographic learns of breaking news online, increasingly on mobile.” He points to coverage of Sept. 11 as most representative of the shift. “People didn’t have to channel surf to get to that urgent information, especially if you lived outside of New York.”

(emphasis added)

Advertising Age has the full story.


“Stranger Adventures” gets THIRD Emmy Nomination!

Last year I was the Head Writer on an Internet show called Stranger Adventures.

If you’d like to know more about the show, here’s the Sales/Promotional video I wrote and produced. You can hear my voice doing the narration… hey, we were strapped for cash and I was at the office! (And it takes a while to load. If you want to watch it, click on the link, turn off your sound, come back here and read a while…. and then go back and watch it.)

We produced three episodes, two of which were nominated for Emmy Awards last year, and the third, Ian Hollister and the Haunted Hospital, was nominated this year for Outstanding Broadband — Drama. (One of the episodes I wrote, Danny Bowles and the Jade Treasure was nominated for the 2005-2006 Emmy Awards for Outstanding Achievement in Interactive Television.)

Stranger Adventures was maybe the best time I’d ever had. Produced by Riddle Productions out of some floor space provided by Red Car in Santa Monica, we were a mix of a tech start-up and micro-budget production company. Everything was fast, cheap and energetic.

The show used many of the ideas I’d been thinking about for a while (First Person Storytelling, the importance of intimacy on the Internet and so on…) and it was great to have place to try it all out.

Chris Tyler, the head of Riddle Productions and the guy who created and developed Stranger Adventures, taught me a lot of great concepts about how to build a long term show for the Internet. (I’ll be addressing some of them, like the need for multiple posts a day and using the web page to build a full environment for content, in future posts).

Since I’m reminiscing about all this right now, I might as well just keep going…!

First, I’m glad Eric Heisserer, who wrote the Ian Hollister script got his Emmy nod. The first time I met Eric and started talking about the show I knew right away he “got it.” A lot of the writers who came in had backgrounds in TV and Film — and getting them to start thinking like writers for short, first-person videos was like pulling teeth. Not Eric, though. He’s one of the smartest guys I know out here in La-La land — a great conceptual writer with a terrific work ethic. And let me be clear: just cause the guy knows his way around the Internet, doesn’t mean he’s any slouch when it comes to succeeding in traditional media. (Full disclosure: I count Eric as an amazing friend, and I am both delighted and envious of all his roaring success!)

Second, I think everyone did a great job on the shoot. As mentioned, we were a scrappy bunch, moving fast with what we had. Hal Long did a great job as the Director and DP. We rented out an abandoned hospital in central L.A., and Hal used the environment to great effect — creepy, but with enough light to make it all visible on the tiny, tiny screen that is the Internet.

Anne-Marie Mackay, who has helped so many careers in town it’s crazy, led the shoot with amazing grace and aplomb as the Executive Producer. I still feel bad she ended up on the headsets as the Script Supervisor… But as I said, we were roughing it! (When I wasn’t answering continuity issues about the weeklong plot, I was upstairs doing script re-writes and weaving in the puzzle/clue elements that arrived from Chris Tyler each morning!) Ann-Marie, who came from the world rock videos and commercials and sees the Internet as the new “It” knows how to pack a lot into small space, work with limited budgets on the fly and how to tap really talented people to get great work done. Watching her keep things moving was a great lesson every day.

And, of course, Joshua Gause, our amazing creative director, did an amazing job with his Flash team designing the web pages that housed the videos and email and all the Flash animations and puzzles…

And the Flash team, of course, and Amy and Donna Lee… And now clearly I’m gonna go on forever because I don’t have time to talk about how great everyone was. But it was a great experience and everyone was great.

Third, I remember when we were shooting Danny Bowles….

One day we had just wrapped up a shoot at Wacko’s in Los Feliz. As always, we were working with our micro-crew, and about to rush out to a new location to scout the next day’s work. As I jump in my Wrangler and rush up Vermont Avenue I pass another shoot going on… There are 20 star-wagons, countless grips, teamsters and so on… And the first thing that flashes in my head is, “What pussies…” It just seemed so much compared to the off-the-cuff and mobile crew I’d just been working with.

Right now features strike me as those old supercomputers from decades ago — monstrous things that fill an entire room and you couldn’t move if you wanted to. Not only in terms of equipment and crew sizes but aesthetics as well.

Most people think there are different “genres” you get to play with. But the truth is, Hollywood movies (and most TV shows) are kind of done. The blueprints are in place. You know what you’re shooting for any kind of movie, and the makers and the audience judge you according to how well you get near (or fail to get near) that target.

The Internet is wide open right now. Not just in terms of production values, but what the form and the content is. I believe that we’ve got a chance here to make things no one is going to see coming — and people are going to love it.

I’m not making any claims for Stranger Adventures being art, by the way. People were always coming up to me at the office and on the set saying, “You know, this show is pretty goofy.” And I’d say, “It’s a game show with a story attached. We can’t do that much. We don’t want to do that much. Think of it like the A-Team. Did it explore the human condition? No. But it delievered great network TV a lot of people liked. That’s what we’re doing — we’re delivering the right content for this kind of show.”

But as for the rest of the Internet, there’s a lot more to make, a lot more variety. A million people watching a show regularly would be a hit. That’s a niche audience — but a niche audience can support some amazingly compelling content.

That’s what I’m aiming for.


The Habit of Fun

The New York Times ran a piece on girls dressing up their dolls online called, “Doll Web Sites Drive Girls to Stay Home and Play.”

Here’s the opening of the article:

Presleigh Montemayor often gets home after a long day and spends some time with her family. Then she logs onto the Internet, leaving the real world and joining a virtual one. But the digital utopia of Second Life is not for her. Presleigh, who is 9 years old, prefers a Web site called Cartoon Doll Emporium.

The site lets her chat with her friends and dress up virtual dolls, by placing blouses, hair styles and accessories on them. It beats playing with regular Barbies, said Presleigh, who lives near Dallas.

“With Barbie, if you want clothes, it costs money,” she said. “You can do it on the Internet for free.”

Presleigh is part of a booming phenomenon, the growth of a new wave of interactive play sites for a young generation of Internet users, in particular girls.

Millions of children and adolescents are spending hours on these sites, which offer virtual versions of traditional play activities and cute animated worlds that encourage self-expression and safe communication. They are, in effect, like Facebook or MySpace with training wheels, aimed at an audience that may be getting its first exposure to the Web.

Most of the Web chatter was about whether or not girls should be doing this at all, encouraging girls to have play dates and general hand-wringing. In general it was decided this was A Bad Thing ™ *.

But the point is this: It’s happening. If you had told someone a hundred years ago that most people in the country would have their eyeballs glued to images on a small box broadcasting game shows and soap operas for 2 to 6 hours a day, they would have called you nuts.

Is humanity worse for Television? Are we doomed? I have no idea. I do know most people seem to like to distract themselves, don’t like to think too much about matters at hand, and enjoy shiny pictures.

The Internet only provides new means of doing this.

As the rating slide continues at the networks, as cable stations continue to get ratings that bottom-tier network shows would love, as kids move from expecting to get their entertainment from Club Penguin, I think everyone should take a breath and realize that The Habit of Fun is changing.

The Habit of Fun is what I call what people think is fun. There are a million ways to have fun. But we can only have fun so many ways. There are only so many hours in the day. And novelty inspires us to drop one kind of fun and migrate to another.

It’s hard to imagine, but once upon a time people had to get used to watching Television. It took time for the networks to develop effective programming. It took time for people to buy TVs. It took time for people to get in the habit of showing up to watch TV. It took time for a critical mass of audience to make talking about one show or another at the water-cooler a given part of the day.

Now, there will always be Theater. And there will always be Movies. And there will always be Television. But I think it’s important to look at what’s happening with kids, because they are the audience that in 15 to 25 years will be defining what the future of entertainment is going to be about.

And I think it’s clear that what kids are doing is finding their entertainment on the internet. There’s more stuff. It’s on 24/7. It’s social.

I was talking about all this with a friend, and she said, “No, not really. Because parents have a big influence on those habits.” I thought to myself, “No, not really. Kids influence kids on this stuff much more than parents.”

And then in the New York Times article I came across this:

Regardless, the sites are growing in number and popularity, and they are doing so thanks to the word of mouth of babes, said Josh Bernoff, a social media and marketing industry analyst with Forrester Research.

“They’re spreading rapidly among kids,” Mr. Bernoff said, noting that the enthusiasm has a viral analogy. “It’s like catching a runny nose that everyone in the classroom gets.”

Kids will migrate to the Internet because that’s what other kids are doing. It’s that simple.

I know many adults will view this as sad, strange or unfortunate. A horrible denigration of attention span. Or whatever. But it is going to happen. And as they get older I don’t think they’re suddenly going to say, “Well, now it’s time to start watching TV or go to Movies.” They’re going to say, “Well, what else is here that I want to look at?”

Children simply will get used to the idea of going to their computers first before turning on a TV or going to a movie. (This doesn’t mean people will stop going to large, face-to-face social events. More on that in another post. But in short: people like people.)

What’s particularly interesting to me is that what we consider “entertainment” will most likely change, too. The verse play vanished with the arrival of the printing press (we moved from verse to pros — and there was no going back). The sitcom arrived with the roller-mounted video camera.

We are so used to seeing “storytelling” these days through fourth-wall, actors on a sound stage that we forget that once upon a time theater ruled the earth, and later the novel. Each of these forms of storytelling had very rich traditions and techniques very different from the “make it as real as possible” traditions we no expect from TV and Film.

As we mine the Internet for new ways of engaging an audience, I expect we’ll find fascinating methods of engagement that don’t look at all like TV and Film. Entertainments like World of Warcraft and Disney’s new “Pirates of the Caribbean Online,” a new massively multiplayer online game based on the “Pirates” movie franchise might confuse older folks, but it won’t confuse a generation of kids growing up on it.

Microsoft’s Xbox Live depends on this. And in a bold move (or maybe not so bold!) FASA Studio’s new Shadowrun game is being release only as a multiplayer online game–there will be no single player version of the game you can play alone.

I believe audiences will expect this kind of entertainment in the future. There will be plenty of variations on this idea, but I think a couple of people interviewed in the Times article have it right:

Sherry Turkle, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who studies the social aspects of technology, said that the participants on these sites are slipping into virtual worlds more easily than their parents or older siblings.

“For young people, there is rather a kind of fluid boundary between the real and virtual world, and they can easily pass through it,” she said.

For some children, the allure of these sites is the chance to participate and guide the action on screen, something that is not possible with movies and television.

“The ability to express themselves is really appealing to the millennial generation,” said Michael Streefland, the manager of Cyworld, a virtual world that started in South Korea and now attracts a million users a month in the United States, according to comScore, a research firm. “This audience wants to be on stage. They want to have a say in the script.”

(*A side note here: It always amazes me how naive most Americans are about the variety of ways of life that exist in their own nation. Some people commenting on the article said essentially, “Of course you get the neighborhood kids to play together face to face.” It took some folks who live in both rough urban areas and low-density rural areas to point out that life for some folks is not as simple as that.

The fact that kids can play safely inside with other kids without having to let them wander out into high traffic areas or without negotiating long drives seems to have escaped folks who live in the suburbs as A Good Thing.)

Is an online-ad firm really worth $6 billion? has terrific article on on-line advertising today.

Here, I think, is the key quote:

Television, magazines, and newspapers may be hanging on because they are more powerful media for reaching the consumers companies most want to reach. But I suspect they’re hanging on for another demographic reason. Advertising is supposed to be a with-it, hot, trendy, tomorrow-based industry. But at root, the business of advertising is one of allocating capital, not cooking up clever jingles. And the people who make the decisions about how to allocate that $300-odd billion in capital each year—CEOs of consumer products companies, Fortune 500 executive vice presidents, media buyers, brand managers, agency heads—well, they’re old. It takes time to climb the corporate ladders to get to the rungs where really important decisions are made. Of course, these people, most of whom came of age as consumers in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, use the Internet, spend a lot of time on it, and buy stuff on it. But they don’t understand it intuitively the way the younger crowd does. Do you think the CEOs of Ford, Citigroup, or Procter & Gamble are uploading photos to their MySpace pages, downloading music, and blogging.

I find this a lot with advertisers and studio executives I talk to.

It’s like there’s this huge infrastructure. This infrastructure is composed of a physical infrastructure (like buildings and avids and a high end production pipeline) and mental-infrastructure, which is all the work people have invested into thinking a certain way to succeed. And this huge infrastructure is the size of a huge oil tanker. And you say to people, “Really. You need to turn the direction of the boat.”

But they can’t or they won’t. Because they’ve already invested so much in this huge thing and the direction it’s going.

45% of European Broadband Users Watch TV Shows on Computers

This Motorola study surprised me. (And I’m not often surprised by this stuff.) I had always thought that long form content would not work that well on the Internet. How we watch TV or a movie — relaxed, leaning back, settled — seemed perfect for settling in for a while. Computers had more of the feel of jumping around and being busy.

Not so! As the article notes:

The results further strengthen the business models of startups such as Joost, that seek to target a massive potential audience through the use of streamed content over a P2P network, but with the safeguards of DRM and imposed advertising delivery built in.

Just the other day I was at a Kinkos doing some work and I saw a woman waiting for her husband at one of the computer work station cubicles. She had her laptop out and was watching The Scorpian King.

Now, again, I don’t exactly get this. I was watching over her shoulder for a few minutes (I always like to try to guess a movie in as few number of images as possible), and the panoramic shots of the city being sieged lack all sense of scope. At first I couldn’t exactly tell what was happening!

Now, clearly people make the same arguments of moving Film down to the scale of TV. A shot of a horizon in a John Ford western is going to be much more effective in a movie theater than on TV. But you can still see what’s happening.

What happens when you move that down to a streaming video player? Or this: I saw a kid watching the first Pirates of the Caribbean on an iPod. Could he even see the details of the movie? What did an establishing shot of a ship sailing the horizon at night look like to him? Was he watching it for the first time (where a lot of details would have to be lost), or was he watching it again — an on this reviewing certain shots “triggered” memories and facts he knew from previous viewings? (My guess is the latter.)

Clearly, no matter what, I’m an old fogy on this issue. I’ve watched episodes of Heroes on the NBC site that I had missed — but only so I would be up to date to watch the next episode with friends. But I wouldn’t make it a habit. But it will become a habit.

The question on my mind is only this: what sort of content will work best on a computer screen. TV didn’t just port the cinematic style of Film and shrink it down. It built it’s own “language” of storytelling, which depended far more on close-ups and dialogue than Film. The three-camera sit-com is a wonderful invention for TV, but would be dull in a movie.

I expect while people will continue to watch TV and movies via broadband — and in greater numbers — content that is designed to work well and specifically for computer screens will grow alongside it and become dominant. What that dominant content will be — first person video storytelling, Alternate Reality Games, Massive Multiplayer Online games, things we haven’t even thought of yet — who knows?

Notes of Excitment and Congratulations

I co-host a New Media Lab for my Alumni Association. (The Northwestern University Entertainment Alliance.) My co-host is Jeff Shuter, and we meet at his offices at Gain Enterprises.

In the first half of each meeting, we bring in a guest speaker, who does a talk on anything from video piracy issues to pitching new concepts to MTV. Then the speaker answers questions.

And then someone in the group puts a project he or she is working on “on the table” and we all give notes and suggestions, from both the creative and the business end of things.

Inspired by the first meeting, Shana Krochmal came with a pitch for a Twitter Soap Opera and sold it to The project was featured in an NPR piece this week.

I love this project because it grabs a new media by the horns and finds a way to tell a story with it. Sure, it’s still an experiment. But it’s an exciting experiment.

And Paul Jury introduced his comedy site to the group. I’m impressed with the site. First, it has a great catalogue of videos. There’s no way to see it all in one visit — which means if you like it you’ll go back again and again.

Second, it’s a strong site.

By that I mean, instead of being a weird amalgamation of all sorts of video slapped together, has a specific editorial content. If I want what pandasmash has, I’ll go there — because it will deliver what I want. I don’t have to hunt and peck like a lot of web sites. It’s right there.

I believe that these kind of specific content sites are the future of web-publishing. Right now we have what I think of as the TV network model as the most popular model — one site with a shot gun approach to content. However, with networks they stagger different kinds of content through the time of day, so you’re not having to sift through all of it all the time. On a website that’s overstuffed, like YouTube, it’s your job to sort through all the crap to maybe find something you like. While that can be fun, I don’t think ultimately it’s a sustainable model.

I prefer what I refer to as the “magazine model,” with a strong editorial focus for a web-site. Whether it’s comedy, horror, political, focused on teenage boys or moms, a given site delivers a variety of content along an editorial focus — like O Magazine, or The New Yorker, or The Atlantic, or Maxim or whatever.

This way, surfing through videos and text is more like flipping through the pages of a magazine — but with the increased odds that I’m actually going to like what I see because I’ve already decided I want to see the type of stuff the website has posted. (The very successful already does this with content slanted toward the Maxim crowd. In my view the teen-age boy market is already well catered to. Other demographics surf the web in great numbers as well… Time to go after them!)

The New Media Lab is going really well. I’m proud of it and looking to see what members create as we continue.

First Person Storytelling — Now With Pictures!

So, in my view part of the engine driving the Internet as a form is the First Person form of storytelling. Whether it’s a fictional blog or a person speaking into a webcam, or a mini-documentary made by someone walking you through the incidents of a story with a hand-held camera, what we’re talking about is First Person storytelling.

Now, there’s nothing new about First Person Narrative. All it means is that the teller of the tale is involved in the story somehow. We use this method in daily life all the time: “I went to the store, and there was only one line open at checkout, and you would not believe how this checkout clerk kept chatting with every customer…!”

But we can also tell fictional stories in the First Person. Daniel Dafoe did this with Robinson Caruso, which was written as the journal of a man stranded on a desert island. Dante tells his fantastical journey through Hell, Purgatory and Heaven as if he really had been on the journey and was now relating it to us. And, of course, soliloquies from Shakespeare’s plays all depend on the character directly addressing the audience or reader in one way or another.

What is new is that we are not used to seeing this form in Television, Video and Film, which have become our dominant forms of storytelling in recent decades. Where once characters in a play could break the “Fourth Wall” of the story and speak directly to the audience, the traditions and techniques of the 20th Century film and TV demand that, as much as possible, the illusion is created that the characters on the screen are being recorded “objectively.” The idea is that the events on the screen are “really” happening, the characters are really involved in the circumstances and the camera is an invisible presence recording it all passively.

While we are used to seeing people talking directly to the camera in documentaries, it was the rare narrative that used these techniques to build a fictional story.

Some precursors that suggest the possibility of this technique are, for example, This is Spinal Tap.

But notice that the characters are not talking to the camera. The camera is still a somewhat passive observer, and the characters are still going about the business without telling a story or relating directly to the audience. (As characters have done for centuries in plays and novels.)

A closer example of the current Internet style might be The Blair Witch Project. (I couldn’t track down a good clip from the movie, but check out the little bit of footage at the end of the trailer…)

But to find the really perfect YouTube-like moment from film and TV we have to go all the way back to 1987’s Annie Hall:

The piece seems ready made for YouTube!

Of course, Woody Allen’s work in that minute and a half is better than most of the stuff on the internet right now. The form will not save you. But the point is, simply, it can be done, and it can be done well.

There is no reason that we can’t start finding new ways of bringing First Person storytelling to video and film. It might not be dramatic narrative, but it will be narrative.

And while we’re busy figuring out how to “fake” cell phone cameras and characters who happen to be toting around video cameras while they go out on adventures, my guess is we’ll soon be coming up with way ways to incorporate First Person narrative into video and film work in the much more playful and “reality-breaking” methods employed by the theater in centuries past. There’s no reason we can’t find even more compelling and playful ways to have someone tell us a tale intimately — even in a medium like TV and Film.

The Internet is about Intimacy…

… even if it’s fake.

The Internet grew out of direct communication between people. Emails and web pages designed to say, “Hey, I’m here! Hello! Talking to you!”

There’s a reason that YouTube videos are all about people talking directly into the camera. Part of it is about being “interactive.” But part of it is simply the environment of the Internet. It’s place where people gather to say, “Hello. I’d like to talk. From YouTube to MySpace to Twitter, people like to connect to other people. It’s what the Internet does.

As you’re thinking about storytelling on the Internet, keep this in mind. When I watch videos online that are framed and shot like a standard TV show I always am taken aback. It’s like someone has put “quotes” around the image.

The form of the Internet is not objective. We’re not standing outside looking in. We’re in it, and I believe that for next 5 to 7 years what works best on the Internet is what feels like someone talking to us.

Whether it’s a text on a blog or a video shot in lonelygirl15’s bedroom, the material should be intimate, personal and voyeuristic.

This doesn’t mean it has to be true. And it doesn’t guarantee quality. But it’s a point of entry to keep in mind when thinking about the form you want your content to have when designing narrative for cell phones and the Internet.