Easy multimedia stories

November 30, 2008

Multimedia stories don’t have to be fancy documentaries filmed with pricey gear and slaved over for hours. They just have to be good stories, with compelling anecdotes and stuff that’s fun to hear and look at. Katie Campbell highlighted this New Yorker slideshow on her blog, “Telling Stories.” I’ve heard that editors at The New Yorker are pretty good at telling stories. Katie writes that the slideshow  is “very simple. But brilliant all the same.” If you ask me, it’s brilliant. Period. Multimedia stuff doesn’t need to be complex, you don’t need a fancy camera or videographers to do your pieces for the web. Audiophiles might wince at the sound in this piece, and I could do with a few more pics, but I’d rather tell a good story than let hang ups on gear and picture and sound quality get in the way. Too many people expect web video to be HD and worldclass. If the story’s good enough for The New Yorker, it’s good enough for most anything.

New Yorker slide show

New Yorker slide show

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The web’s “c” word: Five better monikers for web content

November 28, 2008

I hate the term web content.  Hate it.  There are TV shows, book chapters, newspaper articles, symphonic movements, poetry verses, stanzas, lines, couplets, and more. On the web, we throw everything together and call it content. And I am fit to be tied. Sure, execs and administrators love to say, “The web is where it’s at,” without funding it. At the very least, they could dignify the collection of words, pictures, video, audio, blogs, vlogs and microblogs with a better name than content.

Might as well call it hodgepodge. Brochure leftovers? Pasted and “re-purposed” from magazines, memos, and brochures, this static web content boasts no rhyme, no reason and no life.

With that, I’ll offer up a little reason if not rhyme with my top 5 alternatives for the dreaded “c” word:

1)      Web Ingredients: This requires a recipe, for example, combine  a dash of exposition, a touch of anecdote,  and a smattering of bullet points, then pour them not into a 13:9 baking dish but a tidy little 4:3 video and a 250-word feature.

2)      Web Packages: Feature story, video, audio and FAQ all boxed together and gift-wrapped just for you.

3)      Multidimensional web presence: Okay, so corporate it makes me wince, but every office has its king of buzzwords. A multidimensional web presence allows you to “leverage” your “position” combining  elements of narrative.  Some words, some  audio, a video or two and a blog? Instead of always telling people how you are, why not let them tell you how they see you? Word of mouth travels fast. Might as well let them describe the good and bad about you – to you on your blog. Might as well make your case via video and teach people using podcasts. Then you’re “leveraging” your “positions” using several “platforms” and reaching a “cross-section” of your  “demographic.”

4)      Web Masterpieces: Look, the web’s about being fast, cool, edgy, even if you’re selling antibiotic ointment. Could archeologists someday be mining caches of servers trying to decipher and restore aging, yellowing html code? Clean code might never land in the Louvre. But your web site is your canvas. Take care and time to be sure the right lighting, the ideal nuance, the perfect brush strokes tell your story. Treat your site like a self portrait. It might not hang in a museum or get translated by archeologists, but success on the web means telling a gripping story today.

5)      Web Storytelling: A narrative has everything life does. Character, conflict, triumph.  Think of your web site as your story, a personal one or that of a company or organization. What stories can you tell to illustrate your favorite themes or your brand? A few pictures, a few words, some talking pictures? What’s the best way to tell your stories? What conflicts have you triumphantly overcome? Tell those stories… Show the world who you are.

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