Viral Videos: YouTube vs. Vimeo

I spent the past week producing a promotional video for Social Harbor, the new website developed by Ingenex Digital Marketing. Derek and I went to the Diag on UM’s campus last Wednesday to get some primary video footage. I took the tape home and used iMovie to import and edit the video clips. I found a song that was available without royalty fees on Incompetech.com. Kevin MacLeod writes and records all the music on there — and he only asks for optional donations.

Once I had the film cut to about 1 min. 45 sec., I exported the final product as a Quicktime Movie file in order to upload it to the web. We had chosen YouTube as the service to host and share the video. Of course we could put the video right on the Social Harbor home page using a flash player. But we want to be able to send a link in emails and embed the video on blogs and other websites. We also want people to be able to share the video on social bookmarking sites like Digg.com. YouTube offers all of these. In fact, it’s commendable that YouTube has maintained the “king of the hill” status for so long in the realm of web video streaming. Most Web 2.0 sites that got that big have sold out and gotten ruined (like MySpace, for example).

I did run into some problems with video resolution while uploading to YouTube. They broadcast at 425 pixel width, but iMovie exports at about 320 width by default. It was no easy task to get the ratio correct AND have the video streaming the way it’s supposed to. I had to find a tutorial to help with expert settings and export the video the correct way. Of course, I figured it out right when my brother — who just moved to LA to get into the film industry — told me that Vimeo is better for high resolution videos. They don’t compress your video so much, and you can even host a video in HD quality.

There are some negatives to Vimeo. First, you have a limit of 500 MB per week that you can upload. On YouTube, a single clip can be as large as 1 GB (1000 MB), and there is no limit to your total uploads. Second, you’re not supposed to upload any commercial content. Vimeo is intended for personal creations only — as in home movies and short films. That means I’m not supposed to load the Social Harbor video to Vimeo even if I want to.

The end result: The video is on YouTube, available for viewing by the general public: Social Harbor video.

Nature and Technology: Forever at Odds?

Our Human brains tend to operate in dichotomies: good and bad, man and woman, Obama and McCain and… nature and technology?! Humanity, or more specifically our advances in technology, have largely been responsible for the degradation of ecosystems, exhaustion of resources and extinction of species. Technology is therefore intrinsically in opposition to nature… or is it?

Ok, so our societal advancements have not always treaded lightly on our Mother Earth. It cannot be denied that we have done some irreversible damage. That being said, we are still a part of these integral ecosystems and what is done has been done. It is then, perhaps the most beneficial to utilize our technological advancements to help preserve, conserve and reduce what damage has been done (when possible). Yes, this is a rather large task, and one may ask simply how can you even begin to approach this? Well…

With the advent and ubiquity (literally) of the internet, solutions may be as simple as running a Google search. I recently stumbled upon a website boasting the ‘30 Best Eco Sites.’ As is turns out I hit the green goldmine of eco-sites! This site features a list of some of the best green internet resources. These top 30 sites include everything from environmental blogging, eco-clothing and products and day-to-day living tips. Each and every site serves as an excellent educational green resource, and I highly recommend that you check it out.

On site on this list that caught my eye in particular was EcoGeek. EcoGeek focuses on the connection between nature and technology and aims to prove that green gadgets can be good. Ah ha! Just what I was looking for- people are actually synthesizing these two concepts that until recently (and I mean recently) were definitively at odds. Maybe, just maybe, we can use this internet thing as a platform for a universal green movement…? Sure, technology has been bad for our planet. But it’s time to realize that technology may also have the power to begin to heal the environment. Shunning or ignoring the omnipresence of modern day technology will do nothing to save the planet. We must accept the reality of this situation and begin to use the tools we have at hand to begin to work towards a more sustainable future.

Plastic Bag Bans Raise Environmental Awareness

In the past several years, the hideous truth about plastic bags has been gaining more and more media attention. People are beginning to realize what these bags are made from (petroleum) and how long it takes them to disintegrate in landfills (a long time, should they make it there). 

I began to realize this anti-plastic bag mass movement has trickled down to a variety of large chain stores in the local Ann Arbor area. Although perhaps this is an attempt to tap into the ‘green niche’ rather than operating out of eco-consciousness, I feel optimistic none-the-less that environmental stewardship is beginning to be addressed on a larger scale level.

Last night I was shopping for various toiletries at my local Rite-Aid. I noticed that even they carried cloth bags emblazoned with their logo! I was a initially a little shocked, and proceeded to the cash register where I told the clerk that I didn’t need a plastic bag. He seemed amazed at my ability to carry my three items by hand out to my car. He proceeded to let me know that some of his regular patrons will ask to double bag unnecessary items (such as a gallon of milk).

Wasteful behavior such as this makes me feel fortunate that many stores are beginning to add additional taxes when you use plastic bags. Additionally, many cities and states are beginning to propose an all-together ban on plastic bags. Both measures have proven to be very successful. In fact, China’s ban on plastic bags will save an estimated 37 million barrels of oil! This ban extends to the free bags distributed to customers. 

Unfortunately, not everyone is willing to ban plastic bags or even to tax them. The city of Dallas’s local council recently stated that banning plastic bags and food containers would have a “negative impact on the local environment, the economy and the school system.” They went on to say they believe in educating people about what is responsible behavior and simply “not to litter…” a preventative measure that works oh so well…

All in all I am totally in favor of bans or taxes on plastic bags. I think that this is absolutely a step in the right direction; if people are more aware of their conspicuous consumption, then they are forced to take a step back and reevaluate their behavior. This increase in environmental awareness in recent years has spurred many programs that adress the urgent need for stewardship and sustainability. 

Recently, Ingenex has begun to research Michigan State University’s Be Spartan Green program. As discussed in my recent blog post, we hope to bring our eco-friendly internship program to help bring digital and environmental education to East Lansing. It is through awareness and education made possible largely due to digital technologies that we can work and strive towards a more sustainable future.

Utilizing Digital Media in a Smart and Relevant Way

As a recent college grad, I have rapidly gained a wealth of knowledge regarding digital media and the beneficial (and not so beneficial ways) to utilize these various forms of technology. Most job seekers these days begin and end their search online. With wildly popular sites such as Craigslist, Career Builder and Idealist, it’s hard for the broke twenty-something not periodically check them out. Whether you are pursuing grad school, or prefer to enter the professional world as soon as possible, there is no doubt that there are resources to help to you do so and they’re only a mouse-click away.

Generally speaking, I’ve found mixed messages about working towards the ‘next step’ in cyberspace. In career resource guides, such as What Color is Your Parachute, warn in the dangers of being too heavily reliant on websites. Statistically speaking, this is far from the top of the list in terms of job-search success rates. But personally, I would beg to differ with this. I currently hold a job at the Ann Arbor Hands on Museum, an internship with Green Market Fundraising and of course serve as a member of the Eco-Friendly Internship team at Ingenex Digital Marketing. All three of these employment experiences I just so happened to stumble upon during several late night job-search sessions. 

Although I realize that I may an exception to this supposed rule, this raises several questions has to how one should approach the job search from such a plethora of digital listings and how to present yourself additionally. Personally, I would recommend to know yourself going into the search. It sounds stupidly simply, right? But take a moment to consider: What are you good at? What do you like doing? Where do you want to be? Are you interested in working for a non-profit for a for-profit organization? By asking yourself questions such as these, you can target sources of media that cater to what you really want. Approaching these utilities with an idealized outcome definitely proves to have advantages in terms of potential outcome.

Job search websites barely even scratch the surface of digital media’s usefulness for a young professional. As I discussed in my most recent blog post, social networking sites are a great way to make legitimate contacts and help get your presence known among an online community. LinkedIn, for instance, acts not only as a social utility that connects you to peers and superiors in any given industry, but allows you to actively search the United States for current job openings.

Many professionals, both young and old, may have difficulty creating a profile that is appropriate- whether their constraints be caused by lack of time, lack of experience or unfamiliarity with the given interface. Ingenex Digital Marketing‘s newest product, Social Harbor, offers a solution to this. Social Harbor offers professional online profile management- for a fee, they will create an online presence for you on a variety of social networking sites, create inbound links to your sites and create maximum SEO efficiency. This resource is entirely unique and offers a service unlike any other profile building agency on the web. If you’re interested in creating a legitimate, presentable profile online, I highly suggest you check it out!

Of course, these are very few examples of available online digital media resources relevant to recent college grads or those on the job hunt. These types of resources are ubiquitous; the ones you choose to use and how you choose to use them is entirely up to you. It is indeed important to present your self as you, but it is important to do so with considerable thought.