There’s this YouTube user pronunciationbook that is most definitely printing money right now in exchange for a modest amount of effort over the past 18 months or so.
With a little Helvetica, not-awful audio and a lot of cultural intelligence, pronunciationbook is teaching the world how to avoid embarrassment at hipster parties by saying something like “dead-mao-five”.
A dilettantes dream! And a valiant community service effort. Turns out mad people look to YouTube for idiomatic language learning. Put another way, while maybe not the best place to learn the difference between its and it’s, YouTube is extremely valuable for that next-level of language learning that includes sometimes useless cultural references.
This is the internet. The game couldn’t go on for too long before someone figured out that ad revs on 200k views PER VIDEO were probably somewhat significant. And anything cool will almost always inspire someone to create a parody account.
Enter Pronunciation Manual, the sinister stepsister of pronunciationbook. Using the same Helvetica and the same highly-optimized video titles, P.M. made a series of videos with terribly wrong but kind of hilarious versions of the same words, and a few of its own.
Bon ee-vare is now bun-Lovell and uh-oh which one is actually right?
The best part of this heart-warming tale of YouTube entrepreneurship is that the new flood of videos is great for both creators because people can’t tell who is who and the view counts are through the roof on both videos. Not only that, but the parody account has far eclipsed the original account in terms of views, despite the fact that the original pronunciationbook has around 4 times as many videos. Yet another example of shameless internet copycatting, or genius cultural parody? That’s up for debate.
What is clear, however, is that the entire effort has been rendered completely useless as a learning tool. After all, when funny 5-second time-wasters are pitted in a jousting match against actual utility, you tell me who wins.
There is what seems like an endless cycle of euphoria and cynicism that drives creative industries (tech included). First you see a world of endless possibilites, where art is judged on purely its artistic merits. And then, you realize that money sometimes chases after me-toos and buzzword-heavy concoctions and wonder if spy-themed-rom-coms really are the future.
Their premiere party was months ago and I still think about how awesome it was. And then I realized — what makes G.W.A.D. so cool is that they didn’t simply re-invent some genre or innovate on some tiny piece of the market (vampire movie with OLD PEOPLE, for example). Whether they intended it or not, director Jacob Krupnik and the rest of the crew innovated on so many parts of the process that they were able to truly create a new type of experience.
Because all their funding was crowdsourced, they didn’t have a studio calling the shots. As a result they could make a 70+ minute music video with no dialog and no discernable “celebrities”. The script was dictated by the images and the music and the genre is up for debate.
Even though they had no one to officially pimp the project, making the entire thing available to view online, for free, means that the potential audience can discover the film on their own terms. Reverse pimpage, if you will.
Kickstarter additionally allows the burden of awareness to be broken into small micro-pieces through the project backers. I told at least 3 friends about the project (in person + in great detail) and then wrote about it on facebook, twitter, and this here blog.
In addition to exploring new ways to fund, storytell and market, the final piece of G.W.A.D.’s innovation lies in the experience of actually consuming the film. While you can always watch it on your laptop, the group has been hosting its own events, showing the film in open spaces.
This is perhaps the most compelling change that they’ve made to the typical movie experience. Watching a movie in a theater shouldn’t be the only way to consume, and that notion seems to be picking up a bit of momentum lately. Or at least, Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ebert saying in unison that they are sick of getting totally and completely ripped off on concessions is notable.
Instead of pursuing mainstream distribution, Girl Walk created a unique viewing experience from scratch. Their version of “watching a movie” includes a large empty space (like a church) with screens everywhere and people standing around and eventually, inevitably, dancing a bit along with the film. It is, after all, a dance video. This structure allows the audience to become that much more immersed in the story. And the added bonus of huge dance parties both during and after the film just rocks.
Mostly, everyone at this party was psyched to be a part of the something that had come from nothing. The L Magazine describes: “Like Girl Talk’s music, it’s a joy bomb—more a mood-altering substance than an actual movie. There’s something in there about New York and public spaces, but mostly it’s about watching people dance, and feeling as if you’ve helped make it all happen.” Maybe this will wear off after a while…the feeling of utter joy and satisfaction that comes from supporting something that you couldn’t really support like this before. I certainly hope not, though we’ll see.
Sure, Kickstarter has created a new and innovative way for money to change hands around creative projects. It’s like saying YouTube is amazing because of its load times and easy embeds (which, btw, it is). It’s what makes it a great business, but not necessarily what gets people excited. I think what we are all looking forward to in the coming years are the projects that come out of it — the products and shops and movies and artists and albums that this type of funding engenders.
Slash Blog is a collection of thoughts about creative technology, mobile product design, new hardware and the future written by me, Amanda Peyton. I am a technology entrepreneur living in New York City working on a new company called Grand St.