Do you ever wonder why everyone posting on your Facebook wall is happy or tan and interesting? Always eating at fabulous restaurants…or in my case only drinking the very best wine?
Welcome to the ‘other’ social filter.
Social information filters allow us to see what interests us, find more relevant information quicker and connect to people or causes of like mind effortlessly. They are core to the value of the social graph and of course Facebook.
They are magic of sorts. We hang around Facebook because it is relevant in a world we define.
But we also feel at home on Facebook because we are the architects of our physical identity which is inextricably tied to our social identity. We filter and control our physical image and persona. It’s human nature and part of socialization to look our best. Facebook understands this and let’s us easily architect the info we show. Everyone of us deletes posts from our wall that we don’t like.
We can “control the lighting” if you will on how we are perceived.
In an interesting post by Om Malik yesterday, “Now Starring You, in a Movie about You” talks about what he calls MeTV that ties into this perfectly:
‘I always thought millions of us were living inside our own weird version of reality television. But reality television can be ugly and sometimes too stark. Movies are curated, edited and have a sense of polish. That is one of the main reasons why Ratcliff (developer of the app“100 Cameras and I”) believes apps like his and Hisptamatic are selling briskly on the iTunes store. “The filters can turn ordinary into extraordinary.”
Turning the “ordinary into the extraordinary” is a potent phrase. This is about the intersection of identity management and personal fashion on our Facebook walls and blogs. It’s naturally what people do on Facebook, at a party, in a meeting and in life.
Om is mostly talking about photos and points to the massive growth of Instagram as a photo filter as an example. He is talking about images and filters…I’m thinking about live social video and chat.
I’ve been an enthusiast for social video for as long as video has been pushed around online.
All the infrastructure barriers to social video are mostly gone. Cheap bandwidth and free storage abound. Handheld mobile play and capture. And we have Facebook and Twitter identities as the social glue to tie us all together in a world where sharing is a behavioral norm.
Despite a host of interesting early products and a focus on the less self-conscious Y generation, social video and chat are still a juicy promise but a very early reality.
Even I, with all my passion for the medium, infrequently use any of the services except Skype for international business calls. Something has been missing.
I think Om, by identifying the ‘why’ of the boom in photo filters has found at least one important key to the puzzle. Social video chat feels and acts and looks like a dorm room video cam. Home-movie like. Awkward and overly self-conscious and glaring.
This is a filterless, uncontrolled reality. From childhood on we look in the mirror to see how others see us. Suspending the ability to control this seems antithetical to human nature.
For a long time I believed that the social and video chat market was waiting for a behavioral change in people to share more visually. I now feel the core human tenet of filtering our image to control our persona and identity may be the missing link.
Adding filters to video is not easy. It’s simpler for a B roll edit or filter, very challenging for a live stream. That’s why broadcast studios are what they are…expensive and complex and few.
To borrow a few words from Om’s terrific quote, in order for the ordinary to become extraordinary, we need to filter and stylize the video stream. And in order for that to be part of the social graph, everyone needs to be able to do this on the fly.
Seems possible in the face of all the other barriers that have been erased.
On the heels of Om’s post, the media was abuzz yesterday with the launch of SocialEyes, a well-funded startup with Rob Glaser of Microsoft and RealNetworks fame as the Chairman and product guru Rob Williams as CEO.
Om’s ideas and Glaser’s new company connect in an interesting way.
Rob Glaser understands the intersection of digital and audio video with the mass market better than most. And he has the chutzpah and connections and vision that few in this segment have. And first glimpses of the product coming out of Demo yesterday are interesting. SocialEyes looks like it has separated itself from the crowd and has learned from the companies that pioneered the space.
I believe that social video is the next communication’s frontier and have been blogging on it almost since the beginning. I want SocialEyes to get it right. I want someone to leap the chasm and unlock the gate for social video communications. Rob Williams, a really smart product guy, has mashed up some cool features. Adding B roll and content feeds with what looks like curated publishing channel on YouTube creates a semblance of dashboard and video publishing control. He knows that the market needs something more.
My only question is about you and me and how we can control the filters of our appearance, which is our social identity online.
Call this segment video chat or video conferencing or social video…it’s a lit image of ourselves nonetheless for all to see during the event and shared across the web in snippets of your live image.
The utility of live chat and the fun of connecting live with friends and partners is very compelling. My sense is that the more you can controlling the lighting and airbrush the image so we look like ourselves, the faster the mass market will grab this and make it their own. All the other components are in place, just the filters have been missing.