The People Powered Web

02/12/2011 11:07 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011
  • Steve Rosenbaum CEO, Waywire Networks; author, ‘Curate This’; Speaker: on curation and storytelling

There's a new web emerging -- a people powered video web unlike anything before it. I've seen it, and there's more on the way.

Back when the web began, it was hardwired to universities. From there, it offered published information -- much like a public library. As the graphic web emerged, publishers, media and corporate 'speakers' added their content to the stream. Individuals were relegated to blogging, or commenting on posts.

But -- all that's changing, quickly.

The future web is all about video. And video made by individuals and entrepreneurs is fast going to overwhelm the corporate content created by media companies.

Here are three examples of how video is changing the balance in the People Powered Web.

Beer Nation

It used to be to make a 'TV' show you needed expensive gear, a big budget, a cable or broadcast channel and talent. Now, you can cross off all but the last item. So when Mike Winn and Seth Wright decided that the revolution taking place in breweries needed its own TV show -- they grabbed a camera and beer stein and headed out.

If you're a fan of craft beer, and you haven't seen Beer Nation, you're in for a sudsy treat.

A web-based video show, filmed in HD. 8 -10 min episodes. Then, some 4 -6, and of course vacation videos they call 'beer cans'. They interview beer masters, bloggers, bar owners. Seth Wright says brands like Bud and Coors are scared 'shitless' as the craft beer world explodes. And, of course, the same could be said of the People Powered Web. They publish every 2 to 3 weeks. The folks they compete with do daily video blogs -- just talking and sitting in front of a camera. But Seth and Mike want to be out on the road, exploring the world. They've been at it for 2 years. It's still more of a work of love than a business, but the buzz is building. He says they're chugging along. They market on Facebook and Twitter. And Seth's day job as a civil engineer pays the bills. They've shifted from a blog format to a video format -- and watching it on your computer.

Seth and Mike are the 'talent' -- there is a two man production company Dakoit Pictures -- that add the editing, sound, and packaging. But with a team of five, including Seth's wife who's created a very high quality graphic look and feel, it's still a tiny team compared to what TV production used to require.

In the past, a team like this would have had to hope to be 'discovered' and the cost of product would have made it impossible to continue without a cable network picking up the tab. But now, with the human energy that is available -- what author Clay Shirky calls Cognitive Surplus -- enterprises like Beer Nation can grow and thrive in the new web video world.

Grace N Michelle

They are Internet bloggers. As they say, if you don't know what an Internet vlogger is -- then you are "their parents." Where can you find their videos? YouTube.come/gracenmichelle. Grace has a daily vlog on MyDamn channel. On Grace N Michelle, they do both sponsored and unsponsored blogs. Which means some for money and some for free. They did a sponsored blog working with H&M to promote their new clothing line Fashion Against Aids. Here's a look:

They describe themselves as entrepreneurial content makers -- trying to balance audience building with sponsored content.

Here's how Grace describes her decision to vlog full time: "I went to Ramapo College in Mahwah, New Jersey. I graduated in '07 with a BA in Contemporary Arts. Go arts! After college I was house-sitting for a bit and started vlogging as a way to document the experience. Vlogging is Video Blogging for you olds. Shortly after, Michelle and I moved to Brooklyn and I started working in the project management department of a television network. It was nice. Then I quit. To wait tables."

Michelle met Grace at Ramapo College. "My first few hours at Ramapo College were like being set free from a bear trap and finding that my leg had not been injured. I loved the freedom that college afforded me and I loved (most of) my classes. Post college, I moved to Brooklyn with my friend Grace and started a YouTube channel. We had tens of viewers!! Aside from the having no money thing, I was blissfully happy."

They often do parody videos -- working with popular songs and material with their own bubbly and off beat humor.

The do the shooting, the animation, the music, the entire production is produced by both of them. The idea that 'talent' was doing the production and post production is relatively new thing. It's time consuming -- often a video can take between 5 and 7 hours. The Lady Gaga video has been seen 66,000 times, as Grace explains -- "people like parodies, people like spoofs." They say they don't make money on the show, but the visibility gets their phone to ring, and gets calls from clients. Twitter, Tumblr, they put their personal lives out -- because as 'Millennials' they live online.

MPG O'matic

Dan Grey is a automotive fan boy turned TV star. He's the creator, host, and brains behind MPGomatic. This web based series is what some politely call 'car porn.' It is a car lovers dream. Each week Grey drives something new. He's looking at both fuel efficiency and on road performance. He is always on the hunt for alternative fuel vehicles. He calls himself Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde because he is both concerned about the environmental impact and the drivers enjoyment. And he sees no conflict in those two positions. He says that all the manufacturers send him cars to drive -- "I've got a new car in my driveway ever week" says Grey. He puts his video on YouTube, and Grey says he makes a living producing the show. "YouTube buys my lunch every day" says Grey. He also posts to CNN iReport, which doesn't pay him anything. But he says the CNN exposure helps him grow the franchise and gets him visibility in front of manufactures. Grey shoots the video himself, deputizing his son to shoot the 'drive by' shots.

He says he does the same routine with each review, the same shots, and the same tests. He says: "It's a lot like Groundhog Day" but with cars. He's got 7.5 million views, 3,300 subscribers on YouTube. He's a long tail publisher, and completely self funded. He doesn't do any paid traffic, it's all organic search. Because he focuses on fuel efficiency and alternative fuel vehicles, he gets search engines who point to him if you search for gas mileage.

Grey loves what he does, and it shows. And the result is that he's doing a gig that used to be handled exclusively by big publishers like Car and Driver or Road and Track. Dan is a one man band fueled by passion. But he's quick to point out it pays more than his lunch, it pays his bills, his mortgage, even the $11,000 property taxes on his New Jersey home where taxes are 'expensive as hell.'

Dan is a perfect example of the People Powered Video web. And he's going to give the network overhead automotive shows a run for their money.

The tools are getting cheaper. The bandwidth is getting fatter. And the screens that used to keep video on TV, and text on the web are morphing into one. The result is that video, once used for entertainment, is now becoming a personal publishing platform for stories, information, ideas, and knowledge.

So -- The People Powered web is going to create a new kind of video, and a new kind of audience. Stay tuned.

Steve Rosenbaum is founder and CEO of, and the Author of the forthcoming McGrawHill Business book "Curation Nation" (March / 2011). Follow Steve Rosenbaum on Twitter @magnify.