The world is sick right now. Infected by fear. Fear of shifting demographics. Fear of an uncertain future. Fear of changing economic opportunities. And fear of each other.
Of course, there have always been illnesses in the human condition, and at times outright societal disease. Historically, we seem to vacillate between periods of relative good and relative bad. But sadly, we seem to be in a global trough right now.
In times like this, we all need to ask ourselves if we're satisfied with the world around us. If the answer is no, the question then becomes, what can I do in my daily life to help. Some of us will have good ideas. Some of us will have bad ones. Some will have good ideas, but limited ability to enact them at scale. Others will have marginal ideas, but through the sheer force of dogged execution, will still help anyway. Sometimes circumstances outside of our control will keep good ideas from working. Sometimes they will buoy ideas that seemed destined to fail. But on the whole, if we adopt a culture of attempted change, the aggregate will succeed.
In large part, VidMob was born from this train of thought nearly two years ago. It struck me then that one of the bedrock conditions of the American dream was threatened by the changing economy; namely, the promise that with hard work, each successive generation could count on having a higher quality of life than the previous generation. Since the birth of our country, this belief formed the root of generational hope, and its truth propelled one generation after another to put in the labor that built modern America. Today, though, the successive job shrinkage in the agricultural sector, manufacturing, and now machine-enabled white-collar labor erosion, have threatened the belief in this promise, if not its reality. People are afraid. How will they earn a living? How will their children earn a living with the bogeyman of technological unemployment always growing in its perceived threat? Security and safety fall near the bottom of Maslow’s hierarchy, and financial security is a key part of this. Without it, all of the forces of belonging, love, and esteem that buoy a sick world in better times cannot thrive.
These are the things I thought about when considering the idea of a culture of change, and how I could play my small role in helping. I spent a long time thinking about education, and how today’s models will need to adapt. It seemed to me that if we all have infinite access to information at all times, then traditional methods of teaching may no longer be optimal. What’s the point of memorizing facts, if facts are infinitely abundant and instantly accessible? What’s more important is the ability to synthesize information, and apply creativity in the application of that information. And then it hit me – human creativity was key. Technology will continue to apply pressure to labor in an expanding array of markets, but creative services will remain protected. And with the web accelerating in its shift from a static text and image-based medium, to a video network, I believe that communications will grow in its role in the overall economy.
And so VidMob was born. From day one our mission has been to build a technology-enabled video production platform centered on empowering human creativity. Why? Because we think this field is one that will grow substantially in the coming decades. We believe it is insulated from the pressures of technological unemployment. And as a result, we believe that if we do our job right, and if we truly build the production layer of the web, then we can help create millions of jobs. There are, after all, 50 million companies that have some sort of social presence on the web. And at some point soon, they will all realize that they need a lot of video. Everyone at VidMob believes in this mission. And it’s something that we take very seriously.
So this was point 1 for us – build a platform to create as many jobs as possible. With positive employment, people have pride and dignity. When these conditions exist, it’s harder to be fearful. And when fear is diminished, it’s easier to love. So, how are we doing? Today, we have created over a thousand jobs in the first six months of our public existence. Are many of them full-time? No. But an increasing number are. And as the platform continues to grow, more and more people will have the option to choose that if they like. All of our internal metrics are based around this foundational statistic – how many jobs have we created. We don’t measure ourselves on gross profit, or gross revenues. We measure ourselves on jobs; because we know that if we succeed in driving the latter, the former will be just fine.
But we hope to play a role in today’s ails in another way too. Admittedly, though, this second focus will likely not be driven by us. VidMob will just be an enabler. I have written previously about what I saw as the dangers of an increasingly narrowcast world. Technology has made it easier than ever to become a content creator, and part and parcel with that, for viewers/readers to program their intake to fit their viewpoint. It is human nature to be drawn to sources whose views match your own belief system. It validates your thoughts and makes you feel good. But as we all collectively move further and further down the rabbit hole of Breitbart, Drudge, MSNBC or the Huffington Post, do we risk evolving into cultural Galapagoan finches – unable to relate meaningfully to each other even when we fly to a neighboring island?
I do not see this trend towards a narrowcast world changing anytime soon, but occasionally, a story is created that is so compelling, so universally accessible, that it breaks out and enables people with wide ranging viewpoints to share an emotional touch point, even if only momentarily. After all, we are all remarkably similar. And when a story is so good that it helps different people realize how alike they are, that also helps diminish fear.
We hope that VidMob will play a positive role in advancing a culture of change in this arena too. It is why we spent so many months building our collaborative project technology. The economic ROI of enabling thousands of people to collaborate on a single project is de minimis. It creates only one job after all. But by applying a professional video editor to the contributions of the many, we believe great collaborative works will be made and we hope that some of them will have an impact. We will try to create projects from within the organization, and we have already discussed this with some of today’s leading news organizations, but as with so many things in the world today, the great works are far more likley come from the fringes. We can only hope to help make it easier for those individuals to pursue their own vision, and their own role in the change movement. And whether we are successful on our own right here at VidMob, or the stories we play a small part in helping create move the needle, I’m happy that we are at least attempting to play our part in the change that is so badly needed today. Yes, the world is sick right now. But if we all care, if we just try something instead of accepting the status quo, in the aggregate we will succeed.