Video is the killer app for innovation
If you haven't seen last year's Academy Awards performance of the Legion of Extraordinary Dancers (LXD), check it out now. The energy and precision of their acrobatic dance moves will blow you away. Mastering such incredible moves has undoubtedly required years of dedicated practice. What strikes me, however, is that some of the LXD performers are largely self-taught. They watched hours and hours of video created by dancers all over the world on a channel available to both you and I: Youtube.
In a recent WIRED article and of the best talks of the TED conference in 2010, curator Chris Anderson explains how web video powers global innovation. Through what he calls Crowd Accelerated innovation, global communities are created giving members both the means and the motivation to hone their skills and broaden their imagination. This kind of innovation requires three ingredients – a crowd, light, and desire – and online video brings all three to the table.
A crowd is simply a community: any group of people with a shared interest and at least a few people capable of innovation. Since the first days of the web, communities have exploded in number and size. No matter how niche the subject, anyone who publishes video content has the potential to reach an audience of hundreds or thousands formerly known as strangers.
Light refers to visibility. All members of the community need to be aware of what others, particularly the most talented members, are up to. Recommendations, viewing numbers, ratings, etc. make it surprisingly easy to select interesting contributions out of a plethora of content.
Active learning requires hard work, and what often drives all that work, is the Desire to be recognized for your work and skills. Admit it, if you upload a video, write a blog post or even tweet, you will check the number of viewers, comments and (re)tweets. These metrics are such powerful motivator, because they are social: behind these numbers are other people who have responded to your work.
You might say that these forces have been present since the early days of the Internet. True, but people’s contributions have long been limited to text, pictures and audio. In real life, these inputs are combined and video offers the closest match. Consequently, online video is not just pushing innovation in areas where you need moving images (e.g. dancing or skateboarding), but in any field imaginable. It is accelerating the sharing of ideas through conversations and presentations. The best example is the TED conference. The high quality recording and tightly edited talks offer a near physical presence in the room. You can see the passion in the presenters’ face and listen to the emotion in their voice. If TED would just put slides online, it would never have reached a global audience.
Online video is the killer app for crowd accelerated innovation. Watch and learn.