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Thanks to Fred Graver, you can't watch the iotum Talk-Now videos any more.

UPDATE: This story actually has a very happy ending. Fred contacted me in September and apologized. He turned out to be a wonderful guy, and generously offered to write and produce a video for us, which we released in December to promote our New Years call.

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I had a tough decision to make this afternoon.  I pulled our iotum Talk-Now demo videos down from YouTube. 

All week long some friends of mine have been telling me that the video I built showing the iotum Talk-Now application looked amateur.  Well, it did.  It looked really amateur.  That’s because it was.  I shot it with some help from some of the guys in the office, on a Sony Camcorder I bought for my wife for Christmas.  I edited it on some really inexpensive software from a company called AVC Media in the UK.  Then I posted it on YouTube and Google. It was only the second video I’ve made in my life.

Nevertheless, I was pretty pleased with it. Yes, it was long.  But I thought it important to show people a demo of the product.  Yes, I’m not the best voice for video.  I thought it important to tell people what it was about in our own voices.  And yes, the screen jiggled and shook.  That’s because we were shooting video of real Blackberries in use by real people.  I thought it important that people see the product in action, rather than a Flash demo

My friends warned me that because it was amateur looking, it could be subject to ridicule.  If it were ridiculed, the ridicule might become bigger than the message that the video was trying to convey.  And if that happened, iotum would be associated with that ridicule rather than the cool new product we’re trying to promote.

I chose to take the risk, believing that the benefits of actually showing Talk-Now outweighed the risk.  I was wrong.

The ridicule that my friends predicted might happen, did.  Fred Graver slammed it on his blog.  Now, Fred’s a nobody in the blogosphere.  Bloglines says that 5, yes, count ’em 5, people subscribe to his feed. Technorati ranks him 347,247, and Alexa ranks him 906,171.  Judging by his Wikipedia vanity piece (mostly edited by himself, it turns out), he has a Hollywood-size ego. He seems to be trying to make a name for himself by “routinely pissing people off”, to quote from his site.  An old media VH-1 video producer, he’s trying to break into new media by writing a blog.

What are the odds that anybody reads this guy?  Not much. Nevertheless, satire and ridicule go viral, which made the risk too great to leave the videos up there any longer.  So I pulled them, and we’ll replace them with some professionally produced ones at some point in the future.  (sigh) The last thing a start-up needs to do is spend a bunch of money doing expensive video production.  Thanks to Fred, however, it appears that we have no choice.

You win Fred.  And by extension, the net loses. 

If the only kind of video that can be shown is highly produced soundbites of material, then internet video is nothing more than television extended to a new medium. Isn’t that the television industry’s agenda, anyway?  Oh yeah, I forgot, Fred’s a producer for VH-1… his agenda and the television industry’s agenda would be the same, wouldn’t they?  That would explain the tagline on his blog (“Same idiots.  New idiot boxes.”). 

Enough about Fred and his idiot box. 

We’re still open for people to test-drive the iotum Talk-Now application.  We have a few hundred folks using it now, but more would be even better.  If you’ve got a Blackberry 8700, a Pearl, or a late model 7200 series device running OS 4.1 or better, you can register to use iotum Talk-Now at http://www.iotum.com/blackberry.  And if you’d just like to know more, there’s a user guide and FAQ available also.

{ 5 comments… add one }

  • MatthewS January 20, 2007, 3:12 am

    What an ass. Sorry this happened.

    Video is HARD. It doesn’t matter whether it has become the baliwick of the masses. I think you did right with your video–put yourself out there, never mind “Choose Your Own Adventure”.

    That said, is your market likely to be affected (by your video) in a + or – way? Not just the individuals using IOTUM, but the corps that have or might buy in?

    If the answer is “it won’t”, then screw him.

  • Moshe Maeir January 20, 2007, 2:00 pm

    As a nobody (my blog http://www.flatplanetphone.com/wordpress is 424,258 on technorati :-) ) I was really impressed by your video. But then I probably am not typical of your target market which I assume is Corporate America. They of course might mistakenly equate the quality of the video with the quality of the product.

    Which brings around the real issue – what good is all the "new media " if it only can be used for social activities???

  • Moshe Maeir January 20, 2007, 2:10 pm

    oh – and I forgot – the worst part is that this Graver guy is using you to get publicity for himself…

  • Vernon Lun January 20, 2007, 2:38 pm

    Alec, I'm impressed by the honesty of your post. That level of transparency can only serve you well as a blogger and as a company. I'm not convinced it was a mistake… if it drove 30,000 viewers to your site, I think you would have ignored the comment of the individual anyway.

    Maybe next time, suck a Mentos and take a swig of Coke before conducting the interviews :), you're sure to get more YouTube airtime, especially when they see your users frothing at the mouth to get your product.

  • Alec January 21, 2007, 7:59 am

    Thanks for the supportive comments guys. We’ll be back again with another video. I am just not sure what or when. And maybe it needs mentos or outrageous bike stunts… I dunno.

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