Film maker Carole Joskowitz, has so far produced two beautiful no-budget puppet movies through her Company Carole's Magic Workshop. She loves making film but dislikes marketing. When I saw on her MySpace page that she'd just completed her most recent, I offered to help her marketing it, Web 2.0 style.
Her first response,
"Michael..yes I read this but I'm not crazy about putting the whole movie on the web in a lesser quality ...I also don't like twitter ...and don't use pay pal...I'm lousy at marketing."I think Madison Avenue is also lousy at marketing. Advertisers are insulting peoples' intelligence with ironic associations that aren't confusing or funny anymore. The game has resolved down to branding our brains with repetitive "smart" associations, so when we see it on the store shelf we'll buy against our better judgment. Nice. Perhaps that's why people avoid TV now-a-days like the plague. What ever happened to vested self interest - marketing products that have real value for the people your selling them to?
Those secretive, a moral, usury tactics make me double-ly enthusiastic about "New Media Network Marketing" - which empowers communities through technology to spread word about a product because they like the product, and the community they've helped build that is, and is spreading a good thing. It's a schematic that mirrors the way Jane Jacobs saw neighbourhoods as foundation stones of livable cities.
It's also a great way to get your art out, so as many people who want to see your it, get the chance while participating in the creation of a dynamic culture in the process - you know, being fans. It's the same way the big ad firms have been marketing for years through broadcast and print, but new media is making marketing democratic, because we are learning, and implementing marketing theory to benefit our communities.
Shortly Carole agreed to have a look at it. It was then that I realized that though I have spent years learning Web2.0, I didn't know where to begin to teach it. And how do I talk marketing to folks who have learned to edit out the white noise of modern ad speak; who hate marketing and 'turn off' when they hear terms like 'bringing eyes', and 'creating a buzz'. I knew that if I used the vernacular of marketing I wouldn't get through.
I realized the best way to communicate these ideas was to do what I do best, write a blog post.
So, here goes, this is my pitch to Carole - out here in a public space in the traditions of the Open Source Movement and Web 2.0 Marketing.
First, let's get rid of the word "marketing", which has fifty years of secretive manipulation associated with it. A more appropriate word in this new two-way media universe is networking, or community building.
Effective Web 2.0 networking says Tim O'Reilly, is a combination of "harnessing collective intelligence, openness, and empowering network effects".
"Collective Intelligence" is the way a network of people can produce high quality work quickly through working collectively. The best example of this right now is Wikipedia which is an online encyclopedia written by everybody - with-in a clearly defined set of rules - working with-in view of everyone else, acting as peer, mentor, editor or proof reader to each other.
"Openness" means that the project a network is working towards is transparent to everyone. Everyone knows what's being created, how and why. Twitter is a good example of an open creative process. It is a simple and therefore dynamic application that is being developed further by the people you use it. In this case, at this time, it's more open than any other application on the net because no-one knows where it's going to go. It's so flexible, a function of it's design, that the possibilities are endless.
"Network Effects" is a complex idea that includes systems analysis and group dynamics (math and social science). The short history of social networking reveals some truths about networks - like the size and influence of a network will expand exponentially. Once a networks gets to a certain size it begins to double its' size and the quantity of its' functioning, which then doubles again. The process creates better quality links through the social creative interaction as it goes forward. So quality also exponentially increases as it morphs towards its' destiny - which is predicated by it foundation elements.
So how to put these understandings into play on the internet. How do you build a network of motivated fans of Carole s' Magic Workshop that will become a dynamic sub culture, an exciting community of active participants?
The best example of this strategy is the "webcomic" xkcd. Physicist, Randall Munroe started scanning his doodles and posting them on his web site. In 2005 Randell s' friend, author and publisher Cory Doctorow, convinced him to put the comic up on a separate web site. At the time that was unheard of, people back then believed that evil-doers would steal the art and perhaps sell it to people as theirs. The usual way cartoonists got paid was by submitting comics to magazine and newspaper editors until an editor decided the artist was consistent and funny enough to publish. A hard road.
Cory Doctorow though gets this Web 2.0 thing at a deeper level than almost everyone - probably because once he cognized the idea he immediately threw the theory into the practical work of publishing his web site - which has now become WebMagazine BoingBoing. And, being the Canadian that he is, and thusly stupidly romantic - he believes that if you build it, they will come. He must think he's some kind of Jesus figure, laying it all on the line like he does, with absolute faith that the idea is true in the largest sense. And good for him. :-)
Doctorow s' take was that by putting the comics up on the net for free - to copy, re-purpose, send to a friend, post on your site - the content in the hands of consumers would motivate readers to spread news of the product to their friends. By allowing people to own their own copy of the cartoon they thus feel a part of the xkcd movement, and they tell their friends all about it with a salesman s' passion - and a free sample. It works - as publisher John Paton recently pointed out - because the production of new cartoons is on-going - the value is in the history combined with its future history - the next cartoon is read and shared by a living 'ecology' of consumers.
The webcomic quickly became very popular, garnering up to 70 million hits a month by October 2007. No one stole the art and sold it behind Munroe s back because the word spread along with the comic - that it was available for free on the web. Since then several publication have picked up xkcd, which has allowed Randell Monroe to earn a living as a cartoonist.
Well, back to the beginning. This is the letter I wrote Carole in facebook, after I found out her new movie was finished. (Bigger? Right click -> open in new tab)
So there's the philosophy and a practical plan.
A Snippet from Carole Joskowitz s' new movie on her Youtube Channel.
I'm not a know-it-all, I know that, but I know when I know I'm ready to act on an idea. This is a Masters Thesis, hopefully Carole agrees to the PhD project.
As we put our learning and intuitions into action in the tricky ecology of human culture - everything about this thesis will begin to change - but because the cause is true, it is sure to be good.
Carole Joskowitz has produced two films: 2007's "Realm of Fantasy" And 2010's "Cactus Psychosis". Both films are available for sale by leaving a note with contact information at any of the social spaces linked in this post. Snippets of the films are available in Youtube and in facebook.
Image of Tim O'Reilly at Web 2.0 Summit, courtesy cnet.com/.
Image of xkcd comic by Randall Munroe, courtesy Wikipedia.
Image from facebook was produced via ScreenPrint32
Thanks to Youtube for the embedded Video.