Imagining A New ‘Video Gawker’ #startup

by Shelton Bumgarner

When I was in Seoul, there was this nebulous little group of creative-types who were doing Broad City-like videos with their phones 15 years ahead of their time. It just occurred to me that it would be cool if you did something like that today. Or, put another way, I think there’s both an audience and a marketplace for something of a micro-video version of Gawker.

If I lived in New York City (which I don’t) and if I had money (which I don’t) I would found a Website devoted to combining the best of The Daily Show and Broad City. Instead of fictional little adventures around New York City, I would find really funny young people to do field pieces about “real” street news.

These field pieces would be no more than two or three minutes long and would have a blog post associated with them that would flesh out the story for nerds who would actually like to, like, read and stuff. The trick is, of course, to find really funny young people who are so young that they aren’t already going the YouTube star route out of UCB.

Anyway, absolutely no one listens to me and I’m just letting off steam while I charge my batteries to get back to writing my novel.

Here’s the video where I gradually came up with this idea.

Of Newspapers & A Better Mouse Trap

by Shelton Bumgarner

It seems to me, the newspaper industry has finally reached a level of crisis and contraction that it might be willing to entertain a hail Mary pass strategy for its continued existence. Now, as I say repeatedly, I have no money, can’t code and don’t want to learn. As such, absolutely no one, but no one, listens to me.

And, really, maybe they shouldn’t.

I’m just a crank who likes to write at this point and the thing I’ve learned since I came back from Seoul is pretty much to be successful you have to be stable, have money and have some inkling of what your career is. To have such a career involves a complex series of metrics that I, alas, will never be able to attain in any traditional manner.

Having said all that, let’s waste some time and mull how one might save the newspaper industry at this late date. To me, this is a technological problem. So, as such, you need to build a new service from the ground up that not only would “save” newspapers via a rebirth online, but also address the existing issues associated with Twitter and Reddit. This may seem like a tall order, but it’s not really if you give it some thought.

What I would do, if I had enough money, is build an entirely new social media service whose whole reason for existence was to facilitate civil discussion. As such, I would look back to that most ancient of social media services, Usenet, for inspiration. The service would use the Usenet experience as a stepping off point. While Reddit is much like Usenet to some extent, I feel it’s such a ham-handed implementation as to be useless for my needs. It seems to me if you did as I proposed, you would have the following features.

Here are, going from basic to less basic the core features of the service I propose.

At the center of this service would be Posts. They would be a full page, multimedia and have a rich WYSIWYG editor people could use to write them with. It would be intuitive and robust and would make writing a post a joy to do. Now, in my imagination there would be two aspects to a Post in this service that would make them different — one is a video conference feature and the other is a minimum word count. You would almost be pressured into throwing in a video recorded video chat as part of any Post you wrote. Also, the service would demand you write, say, at least 300 words in a Post before you could put it into the system. This would prevent someone from simply say, “Meh” in a post, or using a post as a tweet-like thing. You might make some specific exceptions, for say, a politician not known for his long, cogent social media activity.

In-line Editing
One critical aspect to all of this would be in-line editing. If you had the write to contribute to the system — more on that later — you would have the ability to in-line edit someone else’s post in the context of a thread. Again, you would have to write a minimum amount in each edit, you couldn’t just say “You suck.” This might take some getting used to for people who are used to Twitter, but it would likely grow on people.

IRC-type discussions
I would study IRC and figure out ways to incorporate public text chat into the system in a big way. I think that might be really addictive if you did it right and would help with engagement on the service in general.

Now, the thread would also be crucial to this service. Only specific users would be allowed to start a new thread in a Group and this would hopefully significantly increase usability for everyone involved. Only Verified Account holders could start a thread at all. These would be people who the system trusted not to be abusive or go nuts for no reason.

In my imagination, there would be thousands and thousands of redundant Groups that would be created by people called System admins. These people would be in charge of naming the Groups and it would keep some order to the whole thing. Of all the people in the service, these people would be the most likely to be, well, paid. They would have the most rights within the system and as such the most responsibility as well.

Having said all that, how do newspapers fit into this? Well, it seems to me newspapers as we currently think of them are well on their way out and if you completely re-imagined how the public would interact with online content via the type of service I just proposed, I think that’s how you save newspapers. I could go on at great lengths about my specific vision for newspapers in this context, but no one listens to me and I’m feeling sad that I’ve come up with this great concept and yet nothing will ever be done with it.

Oh well.


The Fate Of SnapChat & A Social Media #Startup Based On Usenet Concepts

by Shelton Bumgarner

I may have talked about this before, but I have nothing else to talk about right now, so we’re going to talk about it again. You see, of all the existing social media networks, SnapChat has the most to lose right now. Instagram is eating its lunch and maybe if SnapChat did something out-of-the-box dramatic it might be able to innovate itself out of certain doom.

I’m thinking, of course, of the social media startup concept I have based on the old Usenet. What if SnapChat took the basic concepts of the platform I’ve talked about at great length and use it to save itself from being eaten by Instagram? I have no clue how exactly they would do it, but right now SnapChat has the means, motive and opportunity to save itself by doing something crazy like completely re-imagining the entire service. What if public snaps were threaded in such way that you could have an intelligent convertation using them? Throw in a new desktop app for the service and all kinds of cool stuff might happen.

But, really, I can’t help but keep thinking about the startup concept I have. It’s just so cool. It’s too bad that I have no money, can’t code and don’t want to learn. It’s weird that we’ve actually gone backward in the last 20 years when it comes the functionality that Usenet once provided. Throw into the mix some IRC functionality and you have the makings of a killer app for sure.

One issue, of course, is would Facebook either co-op the service or buy it out the gate? I think if you made it clear that it was Twitter now Facebook the service was gunning for, then maybe they’d settle for an investment, just like Microsoft did with Facebook many moons ago.

I just really like the idea of bringing back the concepts of Usenet, which were so addictive to me 20 years ago, to modern social media users. But, alas, no one listens to me and if they do they’re just frustrated with me for not being willing to code. This has a lot more to do with me just needed something to talk about than anything else.

Mulling How To Share Posts In A Usenet Concept-Based Twitter Killer

by Shelton Bumgarner

One thing people have come to expect is the ability to share information they like within a social media environment. With Facebook it’s Sharing, with Twitter it’s Retweeting. With Reddit you can “vote up” content you like.

So, the question is, how would you do this with a Usenet concept-based service. This is an interesting, and crucial, question. You can’t have people vote up posts because that’s a direct rip-off of Reddit and people would see it as such. Meanwhile, Sharing like on Facebook is problematic. The best I can think of right now is some combination of “Starring” and Sharing. You might Star a post you liked, and Share it on your “Wall.” Or something. You would have to think of some way whereby people would feel like they were interacting with the content.

This gets into the whole concept of how you would represent Trending Topics. You would have to do in a dramatically different manner than Twitter and I think you could figure out something. I was thinking a pull-down menu that would be feature rich and give you all kinds of different options that either Twitter already has or are unavailable with Twitter.

Anyway, all of this is moot because I have no money, can’t code and don’t want to learn. But it is interesting to dwell on.

Use Case: The New York Times & A Social Media Platform Based On Usenet Concepts

by Shelton Bumgarner

I’m bored, so here’s another use case for my social media platform concept that is just my personal daydream. Imagine there’s some breaking news about the Trump Administration. The New York Times writes a story about it and if my concept were real, they could shoot the entire story into the platform.

Here’s where the cool stuff happens. The game changing stuff.

See, not only could they keep the formatting and advertising of the original article, but users would be able to inline edit the content (in other words quote the article directly and write within it) in such a way that people would be engaging with both the content and the advertising in manner that could be profitable for both The New York Times and the service that enabled the whole thing to begin with.

I would say, at least from a content producer’s standpoint, that’s the most compelling use case of this proposed service. It’s really cool. It’s a completely different way of using content. Too bad no one listens to me and this just me daydreaming in a public manner.

Some More Mulling Of This Service As A ‘Twitter Killer’

by Shelton Bumgarner

I have written at length — and talked at length on Instagram — about this concept, so I’m only writing this because I’m bored and don’t want to go to bed just yet. But this concept is really, really compelling. And, yes, I know: I should just shut up and learn to code.

I am not going to do that. Fuck you.

Anyway, here are some interesting observations about this proposed service in the context of existing discussion options online.

I use Twitter a lot now after years of disinterest and I think that’s probably why I keep thinking about this concept. I keep looking at Twitter and thinking to myself, “There has go to be a better way. In fact, there is and it’s name is Usenet. And let’s throw in IRC for good measure.”

The issue for me is Twitter is like a raging, uncontrolled river of information but not a lot of knowledge. It seems to me that if you leaned on thought leaders more, gave them goodies because they were verified account holders, that that would draw them in big time and they would really, really love this service as I have dreamed it up.

I like how this service aims to do the same thing Twitter does but in a much more controlled fashion. You would have the same huge amount of information pouring, but it would be controlled. It would be controlled because you would have a stream of live chat in the context of a Group that you would interact with, then should the owner of the Group decide to begin a thread with a post, you would have the option of interacting with that post in a threaded manner as well as having the option of inline editing what the thought leader had written originally.

All of this is all thought out already because I’m simply using what I remember from Usenet and updating it about 20 years. There isn’t a lot new in what I’m proposing, but the way I want to implement it I think is pretty cool. There are just so many different aspects to this that I really like.

I like how you self-select by joining a Group. I like how you have the quick reaction time of a live chat as well as the option of interacting with a post by a thought leader. I’m sure there are quirks here and there on a social level that I’ve not thought through as well as maybe I should, but I think the general concept is exceptionally strong.

I really like it, if nothing else.

Direct Comparisons Between A Service Based On Usenet Against Twitter & Reddit

by Shelton Bumgarner

So, right now, you have Twitter and Reddit when it comes to what I would call “public” discussion online. Facebook is a whole different type of discussion because the engagement between individual users is higher. In other words, you’re more likely to know the person you’re talking to on Facebook as opposed to Reddit or Twitter.

Let’s do a direct run down of the service I’m daydreaming about against the services it would compete against, Twitter and Reddit.

To me, Twitter is a piece of shit that just happens to have lucked out with Trump’s election. It gives people something to use on a daily basis to interact with strangers they agree with on the latest Trump screw up. But imagine a service that is built, from the ground up with not only the ability to have live, archived text chat with people you don’t know, but you also have the ability to in-line edit posts from your favorite thought leader. And, eventually, you might even be able to do that with content from major publications.

That’s pretty cool.

Twitter is so bad for so many different reasons that it’s difficult for me to articulate it. The major problem with Twitter is it’s a constant deluge of directionless information caused by absolutely no subdivisions beyond poorly implemented “Lists.”

It would be cool if you had even more immediacy than Twitter in addition to the ability to have inline editing of content from others with a full page to make your case. Now, Reddit, in a sense, has something akin to what I’m thinking, but not really. You have something like Groups and you have a main post that you can comment on, but as Reddit is currently designed, you don’t have inline editing of a post in the context of a thread. I find that really fucking annoying. And as far as I know Reddit doesn’t have any of the features of IRC I’d like to integrate, either. Again, one threat to this service would be either Twitter or Reddit redesigning their services to co-op any of the cool stuff you come up with it. But that’s life, bruh. You’d have to keep innovating to combat that. Reddit is more likely to come at you than Twitter, I suspect.

But, whatever. I don’t know. None of this is ever going to happen. But, as I keep saying, it’s fun to talk about. I really love this concept. I wish I knew how to code. I’d start on it right now. But, alas, I’m just a writer you likes to daydream.

Of Podcasting, Soundcloud & The Music Industry In The Context Of Usenet Concepts

by Shelton Bumgarner

Now, the reason why I think you could use a service based on the concepts of Usenet and IRC to revolutionize not only the publishing business but music is because if you see these concepts the way I do, then there are any number of use cases you can think up.

So, this post is about the use case of music industry, podcasting and this service.

The interesting thing about this concept when it comes to podcasting and music is it’s a natural fit. If, as part of developing the site, you were to buy Soundcloud on the cheap and integrate it into the service you could do some pretty cool things. I say this because the key to making the service a success is finding different communities to use as source of growth marketing.

Establishing this platform as one where you could discuss podcasts and music would be pretty cool. The entire service would be designed to encourage debate and discussion and pretty much given the passions associated with music would be a perfect fit. People love to talk about music and podcasting and if you made it so you could actually do a podcast native to the service, all the better. Though, because I’m a former user of the now defunct video service known as Blab if I had anything to do with it, I would try to take things to the next step and use video as much as possible.

But imagine Pod Save America dropping on the service. There would be a Crooked Media post beneath the podcast and people could inline edit that content in a threaded discussion as well as have an archive live-text chat about it as well. This is pretty powerful stuff on a conceptual level, if nothing else. While I’m sure these concepts are floating about here and there, I can’t think of a site like the one I imagine that would do it all in one place seamlessly.

Or the latest hip-hop video drops and you get to not only watch the video, but get a full-page ad for merch and tickets to venues where the performer in the video is going to sing. That’s pretty cool, I think. And because people are interested in this content in the first place, they won’t mind that they’re interacting with an enormous ad while they talk about the music.

It seems pretty obvious that EDM would be the perfect subculture to promote this service to at first for no other reason than they have a huge amount of passion and they would love the ability to talk about venues and music and what not. Now, I know there are probably plenty of sites that already exist that allow them to do just that, but I like to think the service I’ve come up with would be so cool as to draw at least a sizable amount of those people to the service.

But, as I said, no one cares what I have to say. This is just daydreaming. I will grow tired of it soon enough, but for the time being it’s relaxing to look at this concept from different angles.