Monday, July 13, 2015

Continuing to think on entertain

Have been quite satisfied with myself and my conclusion that current social media measures how entertaining you are, as I like claiming I'm not trying to entertain, which I'm not. And then I thought about TED talks, and how much I like documentaries. And those are entertaining, where that isn't the purpose?

Reality is that I've learned a lot I'm sure from people who didn't just focus on information, but also on production values, presentation, and audience reaction, as they taught through entertaining formats.

And I'm sure the purpose of a TED speaker is not to be entertaining but to communicate something important for the common good. And I think the same is true for most documentarians, so thinking as well on that aspect of it.

For an example of a TED talk here's one: Tom Wujec, toast and problem solving

If you do click on the link and watch you may notice he's in a suit. And that camera angles shift in a way that facilitates his talk. Also he uses visuals in a profound way. But reality is that all the information could have been presented in a far less entertaining way, but would I have considered it then?

Probably in this case not, but maybe as he's talking systems and problem solving, two of my favorite subjects! Yet the talk is from 2013, and I'm probably seeing it now because it was so successful and had so many views. I might never have heard of him without it. Maybe I'd have stumbled across his work presented some other way, but now I'm also more likely to web search on him, and am more likely to find it.

Maybe then it's not such a big deal at all that getting lots of "Likes" or tons of followers or whatever other metric on social media requires you to have some ability at entertaining. Maybe that's as natural as needing same to be a good host?

It does mean that if you're frustrated by low social media numbers the focus may need to shift from the information to how it's presented. You may find yourself learning production values. Or focusing on how to order information best for a given audience, or what are the best camera angles.

Like just imagine any boring school lecture or any boring lecture you may have had in your life as a speaker drones on...and realize that social media clicks away from such.

However, the plus side of web reality in my experience is that you can ignore being entertaining completely, and just present information as long as it's important, valid and useful. Which is a HUGE change, but really in terms of accessibility.

Today people can zero in on that information with lightning speed when they need it, as web search is so remarkably good. I puzzle over how good it is.

Like I remember noting with fascination when I'd step away from documentaries to do a web search on the subject, to check info, or find out what happened as the documentary might be teasing it out or something.

In minutes I could have everything I really wanted to know, which was being covered in a couple of hours by the documentary. Though I would usually continue, now seeing it as purely entertainment, as I also checked remaining claims against what I then already knew.

For some that may be a relief, knowing that being entertaining is a choice, as they can just provide the information, without having to worry about such other. And as a result, you just probably will not have a lot of followers, which may be what's desired anyway. Not everyone wants millions of followers. Actually, I wonder what people do.

Entertainers, of course I'm sure. Also I'd guess most organizations. But for most of us, what really would you do with millions of followers? It IS work. Possibly it's just as much work involved as being a movie star. Actually I think it's more from what I've seen, like in studying YouTube stars. It's just a modern addition to the range of ways to be famous.

And make no mistake, those people with millions of followers? They do work for them.

James Harris
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