Saturday, 12 March 2011

Finger on the pulse.... What The Trend

I have never really been the sort of person who has their finger on the pulse, whatever the hell that really means. Pretty much I'm fine with it; I like what I like, and mostly I like things that have a timeless quality if they are not very strongly self referentially scewed. If something is affectionately taking the piss out of it's time or outright satirising it, I'm down with something that is so blantantly referencing the things of it's year or decade that will probably not be relevent a few years from it, but in general I like timeless. Maybe that comes from being a movie buff; one of the first things you take in when learning what makes a good film is whether an old movie is still relevent when you watch it at whatever time in the now that makes it classifiable as 'an old movie'. Ignoring the dress, the sets, the technology, the politics, the global status, the slang... is the story still totally relatable so that it's timeless?

But that doesn't stop me being a bit jealous of the people who can lead their normal lives, have jobs and big social lives, lots of hobbies and side projects and tastes, and yet somehow everyday they also know everything that's going on in the world, everything that's happening in technology, and everything that is considered popular by the whole planet on a given day. I went to Uni years ago to learn about Human Rights partly because I knew that the Political history of different countries and their interconnectedness would be covered, and I really wanted to understand the history of so much in global politics in an attempt to understand what is happening now. It didn't work :p

The best reason was no matter how much I read, watched, listened to, discussed, archived, organised, whatever, even spending most of my days learning about the politics of the past and reading the papers everyday I still didn't effortlessly take it all in, and it was practically a full time job. To also be great at knowing what's hot in a casual sense as well, what the geniuses and nimrods of the world alike are obsessing over in a day to day sense, I don't get how anyone can remember it all. And the people who use that to keep themselves at the forefront of their field with constant relevant knowledge, getting exposure to the globe for yourself and how your brand your image? Irritated by and still a little jealous.

Well today I finally saw one of those illusive (to me) ways that people simplify the task on the net. I started reading What the Trend. Now see, being slapdash about whats going on in the world, as the above pertains to, I do read the places and hear the stuff about the best websites for this or that utility that might or might not initially seem like the most useful thing in the world, but I usually end up dissatisfied. The website isn't a breakthrough, the blog doesn't have that much insider knowledge, the new technology being treated like one of the tablets the ten fucking commandments was chiselled into isn't actually that great, and already usurped by some other crappy bit of tech.

But What the Trend?

Maybe this only applies today precisely because I've hit that point where I do want to learn more about the real ways of gaining exposure (targeted and blanket) because Ant really deserves more attention for what he's done in the past and what we hope we'll be doing in the future, and we are hoping the next year might be the one for real exposure, exposure for something worthy of large attention, not just wistful fantasies about some day. Forearmed, Over-prepared, whatever, I believe in knowing the relevent areas like self promotion and PR, even if you plan on hiring someone to do it in the future :/  Ant really hates self promotion but at some point understanding it, even if he feels cheap and tacky (which he does) is going to be necessary, and even if I stayed in the background most of the time I want to understand it to be prepared for if that time came.

Now, back to the point. As I said, maybe I'm only seeing things this way today because it's hit the point when I'm thinking, in a genuine practical sense, of how this works, and why it works for other people. What The Trend today apparently shows that what the globe has most been talking about via the web is:

1) The tragedy in Japan. Regardless of fluctuations this is the main thing in many different ways, and I'm sure it will be for quite a while.
2) What people did before they had twitter. I would hope this one would disappear quickly but I guess it has something tangible at the centre because it's staying high for hours, not just a quickfire meme then.
3) Different Celebrities and Sports Stars.
4) teasing Jaden Smith
5) trying to figure out who said it was ok to do or say something.

Apparently that is what the world is most interested in today and yesterday and maybe the day before. This is literally the first time I've ever read a website designed towards definitively telling you what is 'trending' around the world. What, I guess, billions of people are bothering to communicate about today and hope to find many others to communicate with about it too.

Obviously the only one I'm interested in is Japan. However all of that information is useful if you were setting your public image, your career, your presentational brand on being in the now.

If you were someone wanting to get as famous as possible through being at the centre of the now every minute that the now is happening I guess you would have a blog, maybe several blogs, and naturally profiles on every social networking site possible, IDs for every comments board available, your own websites just about life in all current event senses of the word, and you'd be free to use this sorta stuff every minute to be at the forefront of each and every discussion until your ID is so ubiquitous that anyone behind you in the public profile stakes will be enamoured with your presence and assume you must be real important to know everything happening all the time before it happens.

What about, hypothetically, being a filmmaker who wants to get exposure any way possible. Say, you don't have much of a defined style of passionate direction? Again lets assume this type of person has profiles set up everywhere, accounts on every video site, etc etc etc.

You could firstly do a bunch of diary videos for your youtube about the crisis in Japan, how you feel about it, how much you care, how everyone should try to help; spam it everywhere so that even if it's so unnecessary (being just an emotive opinion piece with no real impetus to do something to make a difference) that it drops off the relevancy scale in minutes, you've spammed it so widely that you'll pull in at least a large chunk of the people looking for updates that minute. You could try to do interviews with some relevent people, or at least blog vigorously catching every link available to relevent places so your blog looks relevent even if you're just directing people elsewhere. You could keep doing this so that your blogging becomes something to return to and you get a rolling return of hits. In the background you could organise a benefit for the relief needs if you can't think of a way to film anything really pertaining to Japan (such as, going there and helping) and as soon as it looks like you have a real event in your area you can blog about that, about how you cared so much and needed to do something so the benefit will have artists, poets, bands, theatre, dance and all the money goes to Japan, but definitely mention that you'll be making a documentary out of it too, which people can donate money to download after, all proceeds for the relief of course. Through this you could go from looking like just another piece of hay throwing in a comment about how much you care, and move into showcasing your moral imperative, your passion and commitment, your lifestyle focus, your community ties, your networking skills, organisational and management skills, your filmmaking ability, your philanthropic nature and your production company.

Or, if you think that those 'add this to your status update and make your friends cut and paste it too!' things are any good you can repost and retweet and blog the 'Pray for Japan' thing over and over so many thousand times that you are at least genuinely spending real time on it, even if you can't tell whether anything useful is really getting to Japan.

Or if you are trying to shape the opposite image, say, someone like I really am - a right arsy, offensive, unpalatable cunt - you can focus on being negative. You can make yourself a hate figure and post opinion videos and blogs about how funny the tragedy is, how everyone is making too much of a deal out of it. Or even better, pretend you have a high horse to get on, act passionately inflamed and make it a conspiracy, ranting about how the emphasis on caring about these tsunami incidents is in sharp contrasts to how much people care about what happens on their own shores blah blah blah.

Or you can wrap yourself around the hate figures and hate on them. One of the trends of today has been the tiresome propagation of Godzilla jokes; you could easily do a bunch of fictional comedy shorts, design some memes to oppose the japan hating memes out there, of the just desserts for all these Godzilla jokers out there.

Ignoring the sarcastic presentation of the options provided above (I actually care about natural disasters and I love Japan, so the hollow focus in so many parts of teh tinternet is fucking me off, not that that's everyone, but it's a lot) it does help me see how, over months or possibly even weeks, you could get yourself at the forefront of public figures dealing with blanket awareness in any industry without actually being the first one to learn something and share it with the world, feet on the ground style. As a filmmaker, you could produce cheap, issue focussed films on a practically constant basis, if you were web savvy, you could produce a variety for each issue depending on target audience (as in, a personal to camera opinion piece if that seems to get you the most attention on youtube, a more defined piece of filmmaking production with a story for vimeo and all other filmmaking focussed sites, a community based documentary piece about public perception of grassroots activity for more community and charity based websites, and whatever works on presenting yourself on blogs). If a filmmaker was to tackle every issue that popped each week doing videos in whatever focus and direction that seemed the most appropriate, two things could be acheived. One, your image - very on the pulse, in the centre, knows whats happening before everyone else, a community leader. And two, you would make youself visible to the globe by so constantly taking advantage of what is most being looked for via all searchable sites, the keywording and spamming bringing people to your site making it higher in rankings etc etc, until you would rate very high on all search engines blah blah blah...

Interesting. Like I said I always knew this stuff was out there but didn't ever see it myself. 'Course I'm not hypothesising in order to do this, it's just interesting seeing *one* of the ways certain types of web users get so popular. Any filmmaker who would make films about anything popular just to be a name known to everyone should be thrown to the dogs.  I might make trying to learn the genesis of certain trends a bit of a hobby though, just cos some of them seem so random I imagine I can't even picture the people who would spend their days on them. Like, trying to figure out who said it was ok to do or say something, who the hell started that? And was it intentionally supposed to become popular today, or are they so popular (whoever they are) that loads of other users would make it popular just to have a tenuous reason to reference them?


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