Why Google's "Hangouts" is a Whole New Medium: Page 2

Business people, marketers, managers, thought leaders, consultants and others should be having a field day with this new video medium.
Posted January 4, 2012

Mike Elgan

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I consider it totally new kind of “thing” on a totally new kind of medium.

Journalists conduct interviews. The purpose of interviews is fact-finding, education for the journalist and possible quotes and perspective for a story.

Businesses hold focus groups. The idea of focus groups is to get a bunch of people in the same room and rapidly extract their attitudes and knowledge about a narrow subject.

Video podcasts exist. These range from the least professional to the gold standard in video postcasts, the TWIT network. (TWIT calls them “netcasts.”)

But the “Flying Circle” isn’t an interview, focus group or video podcast, though it blends elements of all three. And it won’t replace the need for these things, either.

It’s like an interview in that a journalist is using it for journalistic purposes. But it’s not an interview in that it will be everybody talking to everybody, rather than one person asking questions and others answering. It’s a journalist-mediated conversation.

It’s like a focus group in that a group of people are gathered for a facilitated discussion. But unlike focus groups, it will be broadcast to the public live.

It’s like a video podcast in that it will be broadcast and archived. But it’s not a “show” -- we will try to forget about the audience and just have a conversation with each other. There won’t be much visual appeal. There will be no sound or visual effects.

If I were to do a video podcast that involved interviewing multiple guests, I would need special equipment. I would need a producer to orchestrate everything and book the guests. In short, I would need money.

But the way I’m doing “Flying Circle,” I don’t need to spend a penny. The orchestration is handled crudely by hangouts itself, which auto-switches to whoever is talking.

And I’m not “booking” guests. I’m inviting a bunch of experts on each topic area, and whoever shows up gets on the hangout. I don’t have to worry about last-minute drop-outs. I don’t even have to worry about finding guests. I just crowd-source it on Google+.

I don’t need any special equipment. Google streams it, then posts it on YouTube.

In other words, I’m launching a whole new kind of “thing” on a whole new kind of medium that will be broadcast live to tens of thousands of people and archived online -- and I will literally not spend a single penny to do all this.

Above all, the “Flying Circle” is experimental. I’m going to let it evolve as the medium of hangouts itself evolves, and see where it takes me.

That’s just one example of what’s possible. Business people, marketers, managers, thought leaders, consultants and others should be having a field day with this new medium. There is so much potential -- and so much upside for the early adopters. As with all new media, careers will be made by hangouts for those adventurous enough to jump in early and fully explore.

And when you do jump in, please keep me posted. I’d love to learn what you’re doing and how it’s working for you. Circle me here.

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Tags: videoconferencing, Google +, hangouts

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