Speaking on 'Communicating with Youth in a Social World'

Looking back on 2014, one of the accomplishments I'm most proud of this year is overcoming my fear of public speaking, at least temporarily, to deliver a keynote to 300 educators at the Laureate Leaderships Summit this summer.

The topic of my talk was Communicating with Youth in a Social World.  If you're interested, you can watch the entire presentation, along with a follow-up question & answer period, below. I take the stage at 2:45 in.

[link directly to where I take the stage]

If you do take the time to watch, let me know what you think in case I am invited to give the talk again in the future.


Can "The Interview" Pave the Way for a New Film Release Future?

Sony's "The Interview", which triggered an unprecedented deep and damaging data hack, will have significant lasting repercussions. But data warfare, security issues and fear mongering aside, it's lasting legacy on the movie industry's film release strategy will be exciting to watch. 

"The Interview" is the first major studio film to aggressively use alternative distribution models on day one. In addition to being available in 330 independent theaters nation wide, it was made available on YouTube, Google Play, XBox, and even direct from the movie website, at a competitive price of $5.99 to rent or $14.99 to buy, even before the film hit independent theaters. 

Previous tests of same day release windows had embarrassingly prohibitive price tags and restrictions. But with theater monopolies giving up their leverage, Sony had an opportunity to do something different. And the big winner is us consumers (not to mention Google, who was able to put its almost anonymous YouTube video rentals service in the limelight).

A few of the many interesting press quotes about yesterday's release:

"More interesting than the film itself is the unique release strategy Sony Pictures was forced to adopt ... while it's far from a great film, The Interview has inadvertently become a cinematic milestone. Its content led to terrorist threats and an unprecedented studio cancellation. But with its unique release strategy, it may also pave the way for Hollywood to completely rethink how we see films in the future." -- Engadget

"The theater operators have to date been very hostile to the idea that a film studio would put a film out directly to viewers over the Internet on the same “day and date” that the film is released in the theaters. If Sony has a massive online viewership of The Interview today, that could change the dynamic between the film studios and the theater industry ... This could be a watershed moment for over the top online film distribution." -- Fred Wilson

"Many of the roughly 330 small, independent theaters around the nation reported robust sellouts, with festive, star-spangled costumes and a celebratory mood sweetening what was hailed as essentially a free speech rally." -- Mashable

"According to Torrent Freak, “The Interview” has been downloaded an estimated 750,000 times after 20 hours." -- Techcrunch

Paying for and watching "The Interview" yesterday wasn't just a vote for free speech, it was a vote for access to content the way we want it. Hopefully the film did as well both online and in theaters. Hopefully this is just the first domino to fall.


The Golden Era of Podcasting?

You've probably heard by now of Serial, the wildly popular podcast from the creators of This American Life.  Serial has quickly built an audience of 2.2 million weekly listeners, far surpassing This American Life as the most popular podcast ever [Note: TAL has more listeners overall including terrestrial radio]. Its popularity has caused a lot of people to say that podcasts may finally be ready to break through in popular culture. 

Whether Serial's runaway success is an exception to the rule or not, there are a lot of reasons to be excited about podcasting right now.  More talented people are getting involved.  Podcast companies are starting to raise VC money.  New podcast technology is being created.  But the most important thing is, there is more and more great content.  It's gotten so I'm always looking for a new reason to walk somewhere, just so I can have the time to listen.

Here are the shows I'm listening to currently:
  • StartUp -- Alex Blumberg, producer of This American Life, left to build a podcast company called Gimlet Media.  This is his firsthand account of starting his own business, including direct recordings of conversations he's had with VC's and others.  It's an amazing inside look at the startup world.  I hear it's Serial for geeks.
  • Reply All -- The second show to come out of Gimlet Media, Reply All is an awesome show that explores a new unusual story each week about something peculiar in Internet culture.  The stories are short and sweet, sometimes only 15 minutes, but they're always captivating.
  • The Vergecast -- A weekly talk show where the editors of The Verge discuss the week in tech news.  The Vergecast used to be my favorite podcast before it took an extended hiatus and The Verge founder Josh Topolsky left for Bloomerg.  Now it's back and better than ever.  The new cast is really funny.
  • A16Z -- A frequent interview podcast featuring the team at powerhouse VC firm Andreessen Horowitz.  Part of what makes A16Z so great is the guests that join on a weekly basis, such as VC's Marc Andreessen and Peter Thiel, analyst Benedict Evans, or entrepreneurs like Marc Benioff.
  • Product Hunt -- A weekly discussion lead by Product Hunt founder Ryan Hoover about the many interesting new products and companies making their way to the homepage of Product Hunt, in itself a wildly popular new site for tech and startup enthusiasts.  
  • Clockwise -- A weekly roundtable variety tech talk lead by Jason Snell, the former lead editor of Macworld.  Four participants propose one topic apiece, which gets discussed for 5 minutes each.  Snell has other interesting sounding podcasts as well.
  • Foundation -- A sporadic interview series from charismatic serial entrepreneur and VC Kevin Rose.  It doesn't happen very often, but Rose gets lengthy interviews with elite founders like Jack Dorsey, Tony Hsieh, and Elon Musk.
  • How to Start a Startup -- A recording of the entrepreneurialism business class startup accelerator Y Combinator teaches at Standford.  It's pretty cool to be able to audit an entire class like this for free, even if you don't get the visuals that go along with it.
A podcast I haven't started yet but plan on listening to [update: there were others listed here that have now progressed to my "always" list above]:
  • Exponent -- A weekly show about technology and society lead by James Allworth of Harvard Business Review and Ben Thompson.
And in case I have some extra time to kill, I listen to few ESPN podcasts, Bill Simmons and Mike & Mike, for good measure.`

Last, what powers all this new listening.  I'm using Overcast, the incredibly user friendly new iPhone podcast listening application from Marco Arment of Instapaper and Tumblr fame.  I've paid to unlock all of the premium features like cellular download and smart speed, but also to support developers investing time in podcasting, and independent app development in general.

One more thing. You'll notice Serial isn't actually on my list. That's because while it is incredibly popular, I've never actually been interested enough to try listening to it. What podcasts are you listening to?

Blog post photo borrowed from iMore.