Thursday, February 22, 2007

IMA 2007 - Thursday Keynote - Michael Rosenblum Says Everything You Know Is Probably Wrong

Today's keynote speaker is a guy named Michael Rosenblum, a self professed iconoclast who has made a career out of smashing the conventions of television production. Rosenblum promotes a lean, mean style of content acquisition which he sums up succinctly as: "Here's the camera. There's the door. "

Rosenblum's approach is essentially this: You can't innovate if you can't afford to fail. He says that inexpensive high quality "prosumer" cameras and editing tools offer low-cost entry to the world of television and online video. Low cost video production means you can afford to take risks, fail more often, and hopefully - innovate more often. Makes sense to me.

Rosenblum has worked with stations like WKRN in Nashville to implement his ideas about the VJ (video-journalist) driven newscast.

He offered some great examples of the cultural and historic effects of disruptive technologies, beginning with the longbow in medieval times - and leading through the printing press, telegraph and radio in the modern age. I had to laugh when he put forth an image of pubcasters as medieval monks - fixated on the the elaborate calligraphy of their Bible transcriptions - too busy to notice Martin Luther fomenting revolution by distributing his criticisms of the church using a crude printing press.

This was a good way to open the general sessions. Rosenblum is a lively and entertaining figure with a unique perspective on our industry. He's been involved in designing numerous TV production and distribution models in the States and abroad. Rosenblum says these days, when he's not pushing the VJ kool-aid, he and his team produce quick turnaround documentaries for Discovery and other cable channels. He was a key player in the development of Al Gore's ungainly "Current TV." But I have decided I won't hold it against him. After listening to him speak, I can understand how he sold the idea. In his own words: "Hey, I could sell ice to eskimos!"

Take away messages: Leave the sanctorum. Have the courage to embrace new technology. Don't fear the future. Take chances. Fail. Succeed.

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