Friday, June 20, 2008

5 questions

Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to introduce you to a new feature here on my site. 5 questions. It'll focus on new/social media and the people that create and further it. I'll keep it up as long as I keep getting responses. As always, feedback is appreciated!

Let’s start off with one of the heavyweights of the Pittsburgh social media scene. He is the creator of the award winning, smash hit web series, Something to Be Desired. He is also the co-founder one of the spearheads of Podcamp Pittsburgh. His work with animal rights, creative drive, seeming limitless energy, quick wit and skill in countless other areas have made him one of the cornerstones of not only Pittsburgh social media, but networks all over the country. On top of all that, he’s cute as a button.
Ladies and gentlemen, Justin Kownacki.

Tell us about who you are and what it is you do.
"My name is Justin Kownacki and I'm a social media explorer. In practical terms, that means I'm the creator / director / producer of Something to Be Desired (STBD), the longest-running web sitcom (since 2003). I'm also the co-founder of PodCamp Pittsburgh, an annual social media "un-conference" based upon the original PodCamp in Boston. I've spoken about the future of user-generated video at several conferences, including Video on the Net 2007 (San Jose) and Blogference 2007 (Tel Aviv, Israel).

When I'm not creating web video or attending / organizing conferences, I can be found blogging, Twittering or creating social media solutions for various consulting clients, including Pittsburgh-based startups like Touchtown and ShowClix, or Fairfield, CT-based Creative Concepts, whose clients include NYC-metro area businesses like Bigelow Tea."

Why did you get into social media?
"I was interested in creating serialized video content as early as 1999, but I had to defray my dreams until 2003, when broadband internet service was finally available to a significant portion of the web-using public. I was intrigued by the immediacy of the medium -- the ability to create something and receive real-time feedback from readers, viewers and listeners. I also, admittedly, believed the entire world would want to create web video once the tools became affordable and easy for all to use, so I figured I should get in line early and start my meteoric (read: achingly slow) rise to the top."

What is it that you love about social media?
"Now that I’ve been exploring social media for several years, I find it's the community aspects of most sites and services that keep me engaged. For example, I often first hear about breaking news on microblogging services like Twitter, from people I may not know personally but whom I find interesting enough to "follow" on a casual basis. This kind of partial awareness / fringe conversation leads to a bizarre pseudo-familiarity, in which I can learn a lot about specific people or generalized groups without necessarily "knowing" them in the traditional, knock-on-your-door sense."

What keeps you coming back? Why do you keep creating content?
"I keep creating content partially out of obligation, or a deep-seated drive to succeed -- after all, we've been creating STBD for 5 years now, so we can't stop until we all have mansions -- but also because I enjoy taking part in the ever-evolving sea of new ideas that pushes the envelopes of communication and self-awareness. As long as social media, and the people creating it, remain interesting, there's no reason to believe the future will be anything less."

What is it that you want to accomplish with your media?
"I'm intrigued by the possibility that anyone with a good idea can then create a piece of media that becomes a cultural touchstone for a group of people. We no longer need full production companies or studios to make films, TV shows and cartoons, and so the possibilities of individuals making exceedingly unusual, original and quirky personalized media is ever-growing. Personally, I'd love for something I've created to speak to people in a way that the media of yesteryear spoke to previous generations. I'd also, as mentioned earlier, love a mansion, a limo and cologne with my name on it -- but that's beside the point."

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