Getting Rich on YouTube

Fast Company looks at the economic possibilities of YouTube, which is letting more and more people turn cat videos and supercuts into a living, and created a DIY style of TV stardom:

Casual YouTube viewers may not realize the extent of the sub-economy taking place on YouTube, which has hundreds of “partner” channels, mostly with amateurs who built their following online, that make six figures or more per year; thousands more pull in more than $1,000 a month from their pages. Even one-hit wonders like the Double Rainbow guy or the “Charlie bit me” kid can end up making thousands as Google’s algorithms sense when videos are going viral and strike a deal with the creator to sell ads.

Those who’ve found success on YouTube say you can’t treat it like a hobby if you want continued financial success.

FC also gets into some smart tips for how to be successful, things like hire a producer and be patient. If you want to be the next Bieber, check this out.

All The News That's Fit to Click

Now that the New York Times is behind a paywall, you have to make extra special, careful use of your 20 free articles every month. (Or, you could learn how to delete everything after the ".html" in the URL, but let’s assume you’re good, law-abiding people who would never dream of such a thing.) The Atlantic wants to help, and that’s where the Trimming the Times series comes from—the good folks at The Atlantic Wire are scouring the paper every morning and culling only the stories really worth your clicks. It’s a useful summary of the day’s news, plus links to the stories worth more reading. From today’s edition:

World: You should read the profile of Turkish Prime Minister Recap Tayyip Erdogan, and the political landscape he "transcends." Also well worth a click is the piece about three Mexico City architects blithely working to build new parks amid the sprawl. And there’s a report on the IAEA’s finding that Japan underestimated the danger of a tsunami to its Fukushima nuclear plant, but of course that’s available elsewhere.

Super useful, whether you’re trying to save your clicks or just want to get the gist of the day’s news.

Tumblr is the Internet

From mb.com comes one of the smartest posts I’ve seen in a long time, dissecting the appeal and growth of Tumblr. What James Soriano, the author, comes up with is brilliant. Tumblr’s success represents what the Internet is, and how we interact with it. I’d quote less, but I can’t not include all of this (go read the whole post!):

Unlike blogging, where you spend time thinking carefully  about what you say in each post, Tumblr is really more about the moment of consciousness, and capturing a snapshot of it. Hence, where blog posts are supposed to be solid and stand-alone, Tumblr posts stand in relation to an entire thread of posts. That’s why looking at a Tumblr page is like taking a peek into a person’s stream of consciousness. But the winning thing about Tumblr is its reblog feature.

To be popular in Tumblr is to be reblogged consistently. Reblogging allows you to take embed someone else’s post in yours — in a dialog balloon-type frame that’s highly suggestive of what Tumblr is about — or add commentary to it. It’s a little like commenting, but made even better: It’s blogging as a conversation. Tumblr is all about individual streams of consciousness coming together to keep a conversation going.

Tumblr is the perfect expression of what being on the internet is all about these days. It’s about expressing who you are or how you want to be known, and letting people respond to that in a conversation where they express their ideal selves to you as well. Where traditional blogs are prone to self-indulgence, Tumblr admits to it and, having gotten the awkwardness out of the way, lets people indulge collectively in themselves and in others. I think it’s not too far-fetched to say that it’s possible to meet the most interesting people on Tumblr, and that genuine dialogue can happen in it. So it’s not hard to see why Tumblr retains so many people. It’s addictive, even “blogging as it was meant to be,” as one blogger put it. Maybe one of these days I’ll create one myself.

(Via, appropriately, Tumblr)

The Postal Service is Dead, Long Live Email

In this week’s BusinessWeek, Devin Leonard rings the bell for the death of letters, mail trucks, mailboxes, and the USPS:

The USPS is a wondrous American creation. Six days a week it delivers an average of 563 million pieces of mail—40 percent of the entire world’s volume. For the price of a 44¢ stamp, you can mail a letter anywhere within the nation’s borders. The service will carry it by pack mule to the Havasupai Indian reservation at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. Mailmen on snowmobiles take it to the wilds of Alaska. If your recipient can no longer be found, the USPS will return it at no extra charge. It may be the greatest bargain on earth.

It takes an enormous organization to carry out such a mission. The USPS has 571,566 full-time workers, making it the country’s second-largest civilian employer after Wal-Mart Stores (WMT). It has 31,871 post offices, more than the combined domestic retail outlets of Wal-Mart, Starbucks (SBUX), and McDonald’s (MCD). Last year its revenues were $67 billion, and its expenses were even greater. Postal service executives proudly note that if it were a private company, it would be No. 29 on the Fortune 500.

The problems of the USPS are just as big. It relies on first-class mail to fund most of its operations, but first-class mail volume is steadily declining—in 2005 it fell below junk mail for the first time. This was a significant milestone. The USPS needs three pieces of junk mail to replace the profit of a vanished stamp-bearing letter.

(Via Andrew Sullivan)

A Sane Guide to Cord-Cutting

If you’re thinking about getting rid of cable (I did, and it’s mostly been great), you’re probably thinking about being free, and the happiness and love and magical rainbows that come with not having another bill show up every month. But swapping cable for the Internet isn’t so simple. Man of the House guides you through a few critical things to consider. Among them:

You Still Need to “Pay” for TV”

That’s right. You do. While you don’t need to pay for cable television, you’ll still need to sign up for a Hulu Plus and Netflix account. Combine these two monthly subscriptions and you’re almost golden. Between these two subscriptions, you will be able to get (most) all of your favorite TV shows for a fraction of the cost of cable. Hulu Plus and Netflix are each $7.99 a month for streaming only. Netflix will run you two more dollars a month if you wish to have DVD or Blu-ray discs sent to your house.

The Best Headphones For Any Workout

When you’re working out, you need music. If not, you’ve got some rich inner life that I clearly lack. But if you need music to workout, you’ve probably sweat your way through a few pairs of headphones, or suffered through the constantly-falling-out-of-your-ears experience. MSNBC’s Gadgetbox gets into how to pick the right headphones for any kind of workout, and picks a few great pairs:

Two things to keep in mind when picking out a pair of headphones for working out are moisture resistance and ambient sound. If you’re just walking, a regular in-ear pair should be fine. But if you sweat heavily or want to run outside in a light rain, you’ll want a pair that’s labeled as water-resistant or waterproof.

When running on a jogging trail, through a park or on city streets, you don’t want to be isolated from the sounds of your surroundings. It’s a matter of personal safety. But if you’re at the gym, the last things you want to hear are the grunts from the next bench or panting emanating from the neighboring treadmill. In-ear headphones are best at keeping out ambient noise, while on-ear headphones and earbuds (like the ones that came with your iPod) allow you to hear what’s going on around you.

Personally, I’ve been nothing but happy with the Bose IE2 headphones, which I reviewed here a while ago. The StayHear tips keep the headphones from ever even coming loose in my ears, and the sound is so loud my music is easy to hear over traffic or the treadmill.

Good headphones are very much worth the investment, but be wary: once you’ve listened to good ones, you’ll never go back to cheap, came-with-the-player headphones again.

LDL: Let's Discuss Live

Virginia Heffernan, at the New York Times, wants to make a new acronym go mainstream. I hate LOL, G2G, OMG (though FOF, Frown on Face, is awesome), but LDL might catch on:

Oh, how times have changed. The idea that e-mail is chiefly a conduit for anger and lies seems almost quaint. After too may careers ruined and personal lives upended by online indiscretions, it should now be crystal clear that there are some things one must never, ever commit to e-mail.

And that’s why some bankers developed “LDL.” “LDL” — which means “let’s discuss live” — is an acronym that surfaced during the S.E.C.’s investigation of Goldman Sachs for its role in the nation’s financial shame spiral. How do the pros use it? Goldman’s Jonathan Egol is the first known master. When a trader named Fabrice Tourre described a mortgage investment in e-mail as “a way to distribute junk that nobody was dumb enough to take first time around,” Egol shot back: “LDL.”

Like vs. Love

Fair warning: pretty much anytime Jonathan Franzen writes about technology, or something I can spin as technology, it’s going to get posted here. This time, it’s an adaptation of Franzen’s commencement address at Kenyon College, where he talked about what it means when we want to be liked, and Liked:

A related phenomenon is the transformation, courtesy of Facebook, of the verb ‘to like’ from a state of mind to an action that you perform with your computer mouse, from a feeling to an assertion of consumer choice. And liking, in general, is commercial culture’s substitute for loving. The striking thing about all consumer products — and none more so than electronic devices and applications — is that they’re designed to be immensely likable. This is, in fact, the definition of a consumer product, in contrast to the product that is simply itself and whose makers aren’t fixated on your liking it. (I’m thinking here of jet engines, laboratory equipment, serious art and literature.)

But if you consider this in human terms, and you imagine a person defined by a desperation to be liked, what do you see? You see a person without integrity, without a center. In more pathological cases, you see a narcissist — a person who can’t tolerate the tarnishing of his or her self-image that not being liked represents, and who therefore either withdraws from human contact or goes to extreme, integrity-sacrificing lengths to be likable.

Tweeting Live from the Scene

Brian Stelter, a New York Times reporter and possibly the best reporter anywhere, did some of the best reporting of anyone on the disaster in Joplin, MO. Twitter, Instagram, email, and his iPhone were critical companions:

I wound up at a McDonald’s south of town, where the power was on and where the Wifi worked. There, I uploaded more photos, uploaded iPhone video to The Times’ FTP site via a cool new app I had happened to download the prior week, and typed up my notes from interviews. The anecdote about the 22-year-old made its way into the live news story on NYTimes.com.

I sent a few e-mails and made a few calls to The Times suggesting that my Twitter feed somehow be incorporated into the coverage. It was, after all, the place where my latest reporting was being posted. Late in the afternoon, The Times published a link directly to my Twitter feed on the home page.

Looking back, I think my best reporting was on Twitter. I have archived all of the tweets here.