It’s been a while since I have blogged and in truth, I missed it. It’s time I get back into it and thought that my first blog post since coming back from a fabulous time overseas in Belgium at LearnTechDay was to share my initial experiences on a new project with a few of my learning and development misfits, sorry, peers.
While overseas, Danny Seals (@DannyBoy83) and Jamie Good (@thejamiegood) invited me to their WhatsApp group. Imagine my surprise of who I found there. Mathias Vermeulen (@MathVermeulen) who I had recently met and worked with in Ghent as well as Shannon Tipton, (@stipton) who I met last month at the Australian Institute of Training and Development Conference in Sydney.
Immediately I thought ” ooh this is going to be good”.
We talked about how to use Instagram TV and doing it in such a way that we could share stories about Learning and Development in a unique and different way. This way, we could express our own personal stories, experiences and in the process, learn more about this new platform that seemed to be taking the world by storm.
We came up with the idea of the Misfits of Learning because we felt at times, that we didn’t seem to “fit” into the traditional roles and expectations of Learning and Development. We created an Instagram and an Instagram TV account and then divided our daily reports between us. It was up to us individually to create the report in any way we wanted. The idea was to get the message out of there – and to learn how (and if) Instagram TV was a good channel for it.
Of course, there are no expectations of building the channel for business, nor to promote our products and services – think of it as a group of people who like a laugh and want to have a play with a new toy.
We have been using Instagram TV for two weeks so far and every week, we try to offer something different than a “talking head” by showing more of our lives and quirks and linking these to personal learning and growth.
My Initial Thoughts about Instagram TV
For the last two years, I explored portrait video and admittedly, Snapchat has been the main platform which was responsible for my “apprenticeship” into the world of portrait video, authentic storytelling and video creation.
I owe a lot of my personal and professional development around virtual collaboration, video creation, storytelling, public speaking, communication skills, network forming, relationship building, global perspectives and working out loud to Snapchat.
Some people may baulk at the idea of Snapchat but for me, this platform has been instrumental in moving not only my thinking and perspective on how people can use social media for good but it’s allowed me to undertake more risks and hence result in more creativity in my work.
At a time when social media still seems to be what we say in Australia, a “pissing contest“, my projects and my use of Snapchat as a personal vlogging platform to show and share my work openly and publicly has taken me down another route. This route is focussed more on using platforms that result in mutual and beneficial relationships, networks and co-operation with people based on trust – and not about ego or competition.
I have written extensively over the last two years about my experimentation with this platform (do a search on “Snapchat” on this website to see all the posts) however, my “apprenticeship” on it resulted in participating and contributing in a long-form portrait video series called CNT News Channel inspired and headed by Cameron Murray (@cammysutra6) who had already been using this form of content development prior to this.
To this date, I have not come across any other individual or company who had created an entire series in this format ( that is, 32 X 30-minute shows delivered weekly that were a global collaboration of people who hadn’t met each other in person).
With this experience behind me, when the opportunity came up to participate with the Misfits of Learning, my initial doubt was over the time I had to commit to it every week without jeoparding the quality of my other projects.
Similarly, there was something else I had to overcome which was the sour taste of Instagram in my mouth.
I was never a fan of Instagram (let’s put aside that it’s owned by Facebook) because to me, its raison d’etre seemed to be more of consumption than creation as well as a representation of photos that had been customised and filtered and which didn’t represent “true life”, the platform never sat well with me.
Scanning a feed of photos of beautiful people in beautiful places would put me in a comatose state and every time I closed down the application, I felt that I had just wasted that time on mindless drivel.
This hurdle of my vehement dislike of Instagram and all its associated videos and stories (which weren’t stories but photos with edited annotations on them) was something strong in me so when Instagram TV was promoted, my first reaction was to groan and cringe.
Instagram TV created this platform as a competitor to YouTube (but in my initial use of it, I don’t think at this point in time it’s a contender). You can read more about what it is in this post Welcome to IGTV or watch Steve Dotto below talk about what it is. (That look on his face says it all frankly).
Leaving aside the constant arguments of portrait or landscape video shooting (I don’t even bother entertaining these anymore), my biggest realisation is that we’re always asking the wrong question when it comes to these platforms. People seem to focus on the platform itself instead of the bigger picture around what and how you want to use these for your particular purpose.
All platforms seem to do similar things nowadays and it’s less about why to use one over another and more about what your purpose is to use it. For me, I’d rather be CREATING stuff and consuming it.
My initial dabblings with Instagram (through the use of my alter ego Shazza Breaknews, foreign correspondent for CNT News Channel) has allowed me to experiment in a somewhat limited fashion of how Instagram can be used. In truth, I think it’s an underhanded and sneaky way for me to NOT use it as yet another professional representation of Activate Learning Solutions given that I use LinkedIn for that and Twitter – to some extent – for that.
In some strange way, using the same “pissy” expression that lots of Australians use… I am “taking the piss” out of Instagram. That is, using it for the hell of it and making it into one big joke.
Do I watch Instagram TV channels? No, I don’t. The content on it to date does not inform, inspire or educate me. The channels that it has selected for me show me drivel.
Instead, it forces me to rethink exactly how I want to use (or if I want to use it) this platform in the future and where my time is better spent.
And no, I don’t use a platform as a channel for monetisation in the future, nor because I want more people to watch what I share, build an audience, a community or a business. For me, these channels are my “playpens” to create stuff in my own way and to not follow ‘rules’ and ‘principles’ set out by others and certainly not, to create channels where the community buys from you.
I want a community that CREATES with me.
So through the Misfits of Learning, I’m doing my own little bit as part of a team to offer something more of value on it. The channel will allow me the opportunity to create something of interest for my peers as well as teach me something from learning about their experiences too.
Sometimes you need to do your experiments and put your personal prejudices aside to understand not just the platform itself, but how people are using it and how it changes people create and consume content which in turn may affect your own work and career. Instagram TV is going to be my nemesis – my personal demon – that acid reflux in my mouth….and the irony isn’t lost on me that it’s the same feelings that people have about various social media.
Let’s see how this pans out. I think my fellow Misfits will be responsible for helping me see the light…
This blog post by Helen Blunden was written in Melbourne, Australia and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.