So we bought some Viddler-branded Thuggies and started setting up a contest. This year at SXSWi, people came from all around the world to represent a wide variety of ideas and products which generally fell into one of two evenly-populated categories: mobile group chatting apps, and everything else. We wanted an excuse to use video to bottle up a sampling of the wisdom and creativity flowing through the streets of Austin, so we crafted a contest around the idea of letting people “represent” for their product/brand/idea on camera. We decided that each participant would be sent a link to their video via Twitter which they could then retweet and ask their followers to vote for. Using Viddler’s new contest manager, we were able to design a custom contest around this concept and put it on its own unique subdomain at represent.sxswvideos.com.
The thrill of this whole process is that it was all set up with tools that are available to our users. Anyone can use our contest manager to set up a contest just like the one we did at SXSW. Voting is open until the end of the month, so check out what we were able to build by heading over to SXSW Represent!, and vote for your favorite videos. You get 10 votes per day, so use them wisely and spread the love. And if you want to create a contest of your own, take a look at our contest manager and sign up to get started on building your own custom-branded, interactive video contest. Me? I’ll just be chilling at the Viddler HQ with mouth full of dog food.
Gregg, we at Viddler think Rails for Zombies is a fantastic resource for developers moving to Rails. How successful has Rails for Zombies been from your point of view?
Over 5,600 people have completed the entire Rails for Zombies course, over 25,000 people have signed up, and over a quarter of a million people visited the website. We have been blown away by the response to the website, and it feels great to know that we’re giving lots of developers their first taste of Rails.
What inspired EnvyLabs to couple the video content with the programming tutorials?
1. We had first hand experience doing conference tutorials where people had to show up with applications installed. No matter how simple the configuration was to get a library / application installed, people are going to have problems. Inevitably you’ll end up doing a lot of troubleshooting, trying to get crap installed on someone’s computer. We wanted to have the same sort of interactive tutorials, but do away with the configuration issues by allowing users to code in the browser.
2. We realized that learning by reading a book or watching a screencast isn’t as powerful as learning by doing. You actually learn something if you’re forced to solve problems.
Rails for Zombies is very well produced. What made EnvyLabs put so much of an investment out there, and then offer it all for free?
Thanks! It helps that we have a killer video delivery service like Viddler built into it. *warm fuzzies*
About 10 months ago we put out the Rails 3 Screencasts (also powered by Viddler) and I quickly realized that the videos (although they were basic) were targeted towards existing Rails developers. I took a look around and realized there needed to be more (up-to-date) introductory Rails content, so it made sense that the next project needed to be a beginner website.
Regarding the free part: Some people like writing open source software, I like giving back by creating educational content. When you put out content for free it has the opportunity to benefit so many more people. If we were charging for zombies we’d have maybe 10% of the user base we do today.
We at Viddler would like to thank you for putting this resource together. Being a Rails shop ourselves we’ve all referenced the labs to up our Rails game. Thanks Gregg.
That’s great to hear, and I’m happy to say that we’re on the cusp of releasing a new course which follows the same Rails for Zombies format. The course is called “Rails Best Practices”, and it’s targeted towards the Intermediate Rails developer who wants to polish his/her skills. So, if you dig Rails for Zombies and you’ve created at least one Rails app on your own, you’ll really dig Rails Best Practices. Rails best practices sports a brand new interface, point system, hint system, and an all new set of screencasts and in browser challenges.
It’ll be running on a new system called Code School, which will act as a store front (like the app store) for purchasing educational content. We also plan on also releasing a jQuery and HTML5/CSS3 course over the next month or two.
The courses are not going to be free, but they’ll definitely be a lot of fun.
When they’re up, you’ll find them over at CodeSchool.com. If they’re not up yet, you’ll find a form to be notified when they gets released.
Thanks to Gregg and the entire EnvyLabs team for making Viddler their preferred video service for both Rails for Zombies and Code School. We at Viddler wish them the best in their new venture!
Technology is moving fast. Duh. It is pretty much impossible to have the “newest” or “best” of anything these days. The second you justify spending your hard earned cash on any piece of technology, what seems to be a day later the newer, faster, and better version appears on the marketplace. As of pretty much a week ago, when Engadget (www.engadget.com/video/) released video’s showcasing the new iPad2, I thought the iPad was the coolest thing ever. No joke, really EVER. Now, it is a complete after thought. But, do we sit and sulk that what we paid for 6 months ago is now out dated and the new version is now being sold for the exact same price?!?! Yes and no. Yes, I am definitely sulking that my once shiny new toy is now dated. No, I am not sulking in what these new features the iPad2 will bring to the table for my industry.
I am a huge advocate for entrepreneurs and small business owners to utilize new technologies to market their business worldwide. Technology has allowed the “little” guy to compete with the corporate giants. No longer is there a need for large marketing budgets to deliver your message to the masses. We now have the ability to be personal and connect with our audience in a way large corporations cannot dream off. Through social media, blogs, and various other channels, small businesses can react to the world in almost real time, avoiding the obstacles that large corporations have built for their employees. We are not scared to “mess up”. If a blog post flops, we try something different the next day. We didn’t spend two million dollars on our marketing campaign. We just spend our blood, sweat, and tears (hopefully not too much blood).
The new iPad2, released today, has once again changed the game. With back and front HD cameras, small businesses and entrepreneurs have been given another vehicle to connect with their audience faster than ever. We are now armed with a portable tablet with HD video, editing, and mobile uploading capabilities. Face to face marketing is the best way to spread your message, no doubt about it. If only we could be everywhere at once. Small businesses and entrepreneurs do not have the manpower; so efficiently spreading the message in a personal way is key. Digital video has allowed us to look our potential and current clients in the eyes and show them we are human. The release of the iPad2 today further shows that digital video is deeply embedded into our future. It is important that we incorporate this marketing tool into our attack in order to be as successful as possible in this ever-changing world.
Charlie Sheen has taken to the social web to build a loyal following that is impossible to ignore. Celebrities in the past have been able to push their message via social networking but no one has had the immediate success like Sheen. By making the transition from Twitter to digital video his manic message has fully exploded and the public cannot look away. It is important to take notice how digital video has allowed Sheen to escalate his following and create a deeper connection with his audience. How can we extract these basic principles and apply them to your own small business model? Let’s set aside the catch phrases and comedic value for a minute and look at what Sheen has been able to accomplish with the social web.
Sheen took to Twitter like a mad man, gaining 1 million, yes million, followers within a 24-hour timeframe. He now has over 2 million followers! When Ustream.com approached Sheen to do a live video cast from the “Sober Valley Ranch”, Sheen jumped on the opportunity faster than his need to drop a #tigerblood hash tag. “Sheen’s Korner” was then created and to no surprise was wildly popular from the get go. 600,000 viewers on night 1 followed by 2 million, yes million, viewers on the following episodes. Now let’s pretend for a second that Sheen is selling a product/service or even promoting a charity. Ok stop laughing now. By using the vehicle of digital video Sheen has been able to spread his message like wildfire. Sheen has invited us into his home, his life, and his wonderfully manic mind. Now when Sheen was primarily using Twitter to spread his message we all knew this was something “special”. When Sheen started to appear on national talk shows though this experience came to life. It became more of a reality. We were able to connect with what was going on with Sheen in a different way. That wall between text and visual was broken down and the experience was taken to an entirely different level. Yes his tweets painted the picture but when I saw it on video a whole different dimension unfolded and I was immediately engrossed in everything that is Charlie Sheen. Like any train wreck, you just can’t look away.
Now let’s revisit the crazy idea of Sheen promoting something of actual value, besides comedic. Stop laughing. If we take out the basic principle of how Sheen used digital video to connect with his audience, we can apply it to all small businesses. I say small because Sheen is a one-man operation himself. Digital video let’s us connect with our audience. It allows us to break down that wall, look our potential customer in the eye, and spread our vision in a more personal fashion. Sheen has done an unprecedented job of marketing himself through the social web and even though “crazy”, we must not ignore his accomplishments. We all must look at the principles of Sheens success and apply that to our own business model. Digital Video has allowed Sheen to engage his audience and build a loyal following. That is the exact intention of any company looking to grow their customer base. Potential customers want to feel comfortable and what better way than looking them in the eye and expressing your message. Why not use the same methods to engage your own audience?