My bride is out of town so I feel less guilty about spending significant “face time” in front of my computer poking around exploring on the ‘net and I just got done reading up on, and watching videos about, the cat fight between Shel Israel and Loren Feldman.
Though you can start with this post as the culmination of what’s happening between the two of them, don’t spend a lot of time on it as it doesn’t matter in the scheme of life. What does matter about this little clash — and is perhaps a life lesson about being a player in the game of life vs. a critic or someone in the stands having a hot dog and a beer while the action goes on — is that Israel is adding value to the world and Feldman is riding that value’s coattails as I’ll explain below.
My first exposure to Israel was the book he penned called, “Naked Conversations” along with Robert Scoble. It was the first substantive book about the communications shift occurring that is partially being driven by the blogging phenomena. The core elements of blogging were discussed (transparency being the key one) along with numerous use-cases of blogging within companies that has proven useful ongoing.
Even though I skim 1,500+ articles per day in my feed reader, watch many videos and listen to podcasts, I have so much new media to consume on a daily basis I just couldn’t get in to Israel and Scoble’s new adventure, FastCompany.tv (besides, I’m a little weary of Scoble’s goofin’ on technology without focusing on its meaning and why it matters, and simply didn’t think Israel would have a lot of new and worthwhile value to add).
My first exposure to Feldman was some miscellaneous video posted somewhere that I can’t recall. Besides thinking this guy needed some sleep and maybe cutting down on nicotine (bags under his eyes and raspy throat), I did find that first video mildly amusing as I have with a few others he’s done. He’s graduated to targeting Israel with videos like this “Shel Israel puppet” series in which he interviews Steve Gillmor and others as Shel Israel. Again, I found it mildly amusing but I’m not fond of people I perceive as pure (yet poor) satirists who start taking potshots at people truly trying to add value to the world like Israel (which is one reason why I despise the it’s-all-about-ratings-or-book-sales Bill O’Reilly and Ann Coulter for example). He’s even snagged the domain shelisrael.com to post these puppet videos which I find distastful.
On the one hand you have Shel Israel adding value to the world with books and videos. He goes out and interviews people, obviously preparing in advance and striving for watchable content. Is it perfect? Nope. But then who can say what perfection is with social media? The people and stories on Fast Company TV are of others adding value making them inherently worthwhile.
On the other hand you have Feldman who obviously perceives this lack of perfection and that Israel is probing and packaging the social media phenomena in ways that add value to people trying to figure it out, how they should use it and what it means. Feldman is riding Israel’s (and others) coattails by taking cheap shots at someone who is at least trying to push against the membrane of the future while Feldman lays on his floor, staring into his webcam with, for example, an empty closet behind him with empty hangers (hmmm….is that a metaphor for his content I wonder?).
Here’s the irony and why the old saw is that there’s “no such thing as bad press.” I went to Israel’s actual site as I was reading about this and started to watch some of these FastCompany TV videos. I went to FastCompany TV and watched a few more. I was surprised at what a good job Israel does (and even Scoble as he’s improved since I watched him last over a year ago) and I liked what I saw. They’re offering a lot of interesting and intriguing peeks into the people I follow anyway in my feed reader. I think I’ll be watching FastCompany TV going forward and this little dustup is getting both of these guys more attention, but in a way I’m certain Feldman doesn’t intend.
So Shel, maybe you should keep up this friction with Feldman since it’s good for business…or maybe you already know this and have an implied collaboration with Feldman? Either way, stay transparent, focused on adding value, and investing yourself in pushing-the-envelope content.