Thursday, June 20, 2013

Instagram launches video

Instagram announced the release of Cinema, the new video sharing component of Instagram.

I watched the live webcast announcement today, and the new video feature looks so cool. It seems social networking sites or apps often add features people aren't thrilled about (Facebook hashtags?). But I think Cinema might be an exception.

Instagram builds on the idea of sharing stories through beautiful photographs. Now, Instagrammers can share stories through video. Instagram shares the beauty:

"We're excited to see what the (Instagram) community will bring to video, whether it's your local cafe showing you just how they made your latte art this morning or an Instagrammer on the other side of the world taking you on a tour of their city, or your favorite athlete taking you behind the scenes."

The Cinema app allows a user to alter their videos to 13 filters. When you load your Instagram app, you can tap your movie camera icon and take 15 seconds of video.

The other cool part? Say for instance you want to run while shooting video. Running obviously makes your footage shaky. However, Instagram teamed up with what CEO and Co-founder Kevin Systrom calls "video scientists". They created technology to make your shaky footage appear more still - it's as if you were shooting a video while running on a smooth path with your smartphone on a dolly.

I'm anxiously awaiting the "update app" notification on my smartphone. Can't wait to try Cinema out!

To check out what your Instagram Cinema videos can look like, watch this:

Here's the live webcast announcement with CEO Kevin Systrom from earlier today:

Thursday, June 13, 2013

smartphone blues

Every time I begin a new job, I'm scared to touch my smartphone.

Will the employer think I'm unproductive? Will the employer think I'm playing games all day? Will they think I'm unmotivated?

In reality, neither of these are the case.

I'm educated and work in the communications industry. It's a fast-paced industry that requires you to respond to notifications quickly and accurately whether at work or at home. It's also an industry where PRs need to seem credible - part of which involves maintaining your personal, online brand.

Everyday, I come across a lot of industry information I'd like to share via social media. My fingers begin to twitch as I stare at my smartphone on my desk that I don't dare touch. Although it's not the end of the world, my social media audience has just missed out. On top of that, my feeds are inactive during the eight-hour work day, and I look like a disinterested slacker.

I'm trying to build my social media audience while working full-time in the industry. More importantly, I'm trying to build my rep as a information provider, a person who is sought out on social media for sharing valuable content.

Of course, the easiest way to post is using my smartphone. Even though it takes two seconds to post on social media sites, I fear I will look like a bad employee if I'm "caught" doing this. Oh the crime!

So where do we draw the line? Should you be able to use your smartphone three months after hire? A year? Or should we be able to do this at all?

I'm a hard worker and I always have been. I also love working in this industry. If I were to use my smartphone at work, it would be for productive reasons. (For the record, my employers are great. I'm speaking in regards to a social acceptance of smartphone use.)

I'm curious to know when or if employers in the communications industry will change their views of using smartphones during work hours. After all, isn't the best employee one who can multitask, finish their job on time and well, all while being viewed as a credible professional in the online world?

I'm not sure when or if this smartphone-acceptance culture will change. So for now, I'll ignore that "buzz" my smartphone just made.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

We want a batter, not a Twitter blabber

Former Cubs infielder Ian Stewart may not be playing in The Show, but he's certainly in the spotlight.

Stewart has spent most of this baseball season playing in the minor leagues due to injuries. A fan tweeted at Stewart asking when the Cubs were going to resign him. Stewart responded "Probably never" and later "They might as well release since I have no shot of a call up...let me sign elsewhere".

Nothing like spilling your secrets to an innocent fan. And the Twitterverse.

Stewart continued his Twitter fury, re-tweeting someone who said the Cubs had "terrible leadership" and said he didn't think the Cubs manager liked him.

It's obvious you shouldn't criticize the organization you work for publicly...especially on a social network such as Twitter where your words can be re-tweeted many times over. The Cubs team President Theo Epstein worked some PR magic by releasing Stewart and wishing him the best.

Despite some Twitter and rep damage, Stewart can find some comfort with the fact his release earns him an almost $2 million dollar pay off. His actions may set a bad example for his teammates, but Stewart should cross his fingers hoping the PR Department of his next Major League team welcomes him.

But then again, it's likely how he plays that truly matters in the end.