Thursday, April 1, 2010

Lessons from the past

I started this blog a year ago today. I wondered if the April Fool's joke would be on me, but I've managed to keep it up pretty regularly.

For this post, I wanted to look to the past. Not a year ago, but almost 50. It's a clip Casey sent me from TV Squad, with a primetime Jackie Gleason trying to make good for a bad game show he had been involved with.

The show, called "You're in the Picture", was a typical celebrity guessing game where guests would stick their head into an amusing picture, and guess what the scene was based only on hints. It lasted one episode.

The following week, Gleason appeared sans set, smoking and drinking, and addressing the audience with a hilarious apology for what a bad show it had been.

The reason I find this relevant today is that I believe there are parallels between online communications today and TV in the early 1960s. From this perspective, both media are at a point where they had been mainstream for about a decade and a half, had moved from experimentation to standardization of content, and are entering a new phase of adapting to (and even being created by) generations who had grown up with them.

What Jackie Gleason did in 1961 is what creators of digital content need to do today:

• Admit mistakes
• Be yourself
• Be transparent
• Be engaging
• Be humble
• Be fun

I wish I had been there at the time to watch this funny fat man turn a TV disaster into a fantastic piece of broadcast performance. But thankfully, the Internet never forgets:

Jackie Gleason : "You're in the Picture"
Uploaded by werquin. - Independent web videos.

It's almost 10 minutes long, but it's worth it. Solid gold.

Thanks for your readership over the past year. I'll be back after Easter.