Any time a video that shows Lowell in a negative light appears online, the reaction is to find ways to suppress it. But that only gives it more attention. The best antidote to bad publicity is good publicity and, with so much good stuff – or at least “not bad” stuff – going on in Lowell, it should be easy to flood the market with videos showing good things about the city.
Thus far, that really hasn’t happened. It can’t be due to a steep technological threshold: pretty much every cell phone in use today can record pretty good video and audio and uploading it to YouTube, especially, is easy and free. I suspect many people still see video as the professionally produced, 30 or 60 minute block that we see on commercial television. But that’s not the future; that’s the past. The future is short-form video, clips that are less than 5 minutes long, that don’t have high production values but that have interesting content. And when I say “interesting”, I don’t mean “Super Bowl commercial” interesting. One of the marvels of the internet is that your audience is almost infinite so no matter what the subject of your video, someone out there will be interested in it. So make an early New Year’s resolution: Create your own YouTube account and post at least one video by January 1, 2013. Can’t think of anything to record? Why not use the city’s “15 second promotional video” contest for motivation. Even if you don’t submit a video, do your own, unofficial submission and post it online. Use 2013 to flood Lowell online with videos.
My “Visit from St. Nicholas” video mashup was an early attempt. I found the poem online, printed it, and carried that “script” around in my coat pocket along with my old reliable Flip video camera. As I went about my day – coming and going from work, roaming around downtown on weekend days, attending events like the LTC annual meeting – I’d pull a person aside and ask if they’d be willing to read a line of the poem on camera. More than once someone pulled out a schedule and asked “when do you want to do it?” to which I would reply “right now.” Following that approach, I accumulated 56 clips from 56 individuals. Once all were obtained, stitching them together on the computer was easy. Since this recipe worked pretty well, I’m already planning encores: “Paul Revere’s Ride” for Patriot’s Day; “Casey at the Bat” for mid-summer. I’m looking for other suggestions. For now, though, here’s the “St Nick” video. Merry Christmas and get those cameras recording.