Social Media: Short form long form continuous DIY

Note: Social Media is user-generated, member created, content. Not interactive stuff from a web agency or traditional media company.
I’ve been following 5min_tech on Twitter for a while now. 5min – Find the Best How To, instructional and DIY videos – people uploading 5 min videos to educate other people. It’s called a videopedia. Kinda cool to have people doing stuff for free – how many businesses are having their models threatened now? I would be shoving the videos I usually sell up in 5min chunks on this site, and then using it to promote my live tutorials, workshops and labs if I were in the business of charging for education in business or fitness or any of the subjects listed here:

YouTube is a bit broadcast-y these days. The competitor channels are niche – Citizen DIY (5min), Citizen Teacher (TeacherTube – get paid to upload your courseware), Citizen Pornographer (PornTube – I’ll let you research from the last one yourself. May you learn something useful. Heh. )


So, let’s talk about short form content. For traditional media ( not social media which is user created), short form content is viral videos transmitted preferably over mobile phones where some revenue can be attached, or as an advertisement through the email system. Fun eh? Ok, I’m being sarcastic and not entirely fair – some viral videos are quite funny and make me more than groan before inflicting err passing it on to someone else. Some…

How to Thread a Sewing MachineOpens in a new tab.
5min tutorial on how to thread a sewing machine.
Short form content in social media is probably most of it – a blog post, a YouTube (10 min) or 5min (err 5 min) video, Flickr photo link passed through my social network through discoverability and social viral mechanisms like posted items in Facebook and tinyurl links in Twitter. I don’t really care if it’s socially created or traditional media, if it’s worthwhile it gets passed on, if it’s junk (in my eyes, according to my values, humour, social networks standing and a myriad of other factors) I ditch it . Of course we sometimes make something really bad and annoying go viral so we can all get upset together but that’s a different kettle of fish.


Long form content used to be 1 hr and 1/2 to 2 hours cinema showings. Or an evening movie on TV. If you were 6 years old, with attendant attention span, it was Disney Hour on Sunday nights (part two next week!).

Nowadays (since we freed content into form-shift and time-shift) Long Form content in traditional media ( not user generated) is us sitting down on the weekend and consuming (i.e. pigging out) on a whole season of 24, West Wing, Lost or Deadwood in one sitting. Yes. I said a WHOLE SEASON. “just one more episode” takes over Saturday AND Sunday. After a weekend like that, you are almost in a virtual reality – I’ve had Monday’s where I’m chatting with Josh and Sam and President Bartlett in my head. Ok I’m odd but don’t tell me you haven’t had a similar experience. I’m not saying every weekend is spent in pajamas and takeaway/wine in front of the DVD but once in a blue moon it happens. Watch this winter in particular…

More tutorials and lectures – this time on Ted Talks – long form education on the web.
What does Social Media long form content look like? Ted Talks maybe? Funny how most of it is educational. I wrote two years ago suggesting that documentaries on the web would be huge – it really is taking off. Educational, instructional and DIY in various forms. Everything we do creatively as a social network online – bar silly jokes – is to teach by sharing and collaborating with those around us. Any bloggers out there that think they aren’t focussed on teaching others?

Continuous Form Content

Not sure what this is in traditional media. Take a story and offer it 24/7 – perhaps Big Brother 24/7? It’s not the norm… limitations of broadcast mean radio and TV had to choose the chunks of time and then stick to them. Thus we have this artificial ‘short form’ and ‘long form’ juxtaposition. Not much is continuous.

Unlike user generated content. Social Media often has a continuous form to it. I’m not talking blog posts. They are asynchronous so more like “stay tuned to this channel for more blog posts on this subject”. Twitter is continuous. I can keep having the discussion on Melbourne vs Sydney for days if I want to. Forums too – I’ve seen threads last two or three years with people coming back to add new discussion points. The long tail of arguments and flame wars. heh.

Continuous form content

Virtual Worlds are continuous form content – user generated? Not sure – World of Warcraft means I am the hero, and I write the script (chat channel discussions) in some cases yet follow a traditional media overarching storyline. Second Life is continuous form content which is wholly user generated. Anywhere you can spend day and night mucking about, creating and playing with the content, without being booted off witha “coming up next – stay tuned” message is continuous right?

A really good video of Second Life on the Mobile phone (Vollee)
There was one other form of continuous content but I forget now… Ah yea, anything we have on our mobile phone or cellphone. After all, what is more continuous than having an always-on, synchronous device where we can dip in and out, creating content in 16 or 8 or 14 hour blocks? Second Life on a Motorola cellphone – our social network, our creative cross media platform in our pocket.

Aren’t you glad you don’t have to wait around for the ad breaks to finish or the 6pm News to start now?

Laurel Papworth

Named by Forbes™ Magazine in the Top 50 Social Media Influencers globally, named Head of Industry, Social Media (Marketing Magazine™) and in the Power150 Media bloggers (AdAge™). CERT IV Training and Assessment certified trainer (Diplomas and Certificates etc) Adult Education. Laurel has manager Facebook Pages for Junior Masterchef, Idol, Big Brother etc. and have consulted on private online communities for banks Westpac, not for profits UNHCR & governments in SE Asia. Lecturer, social media, University of Sydney for 10 years and Laurel has 11,000 online students. Laurel Papworth personally connects to 6 million followers online and has taught around 100,000 people in the last 10 years how to be social media managers.

6 thoughts on “Social Media: Short form long form continuous DIY

  1. I’ve been thinking these days about the short form using Sergei Eisenstein’s thinking about the SLOGAN. Now, he’s optimistic about this possibility, lacing a feeling into a form; I’ve been less so, what with the hundred years of corporate advertising we’ve seen since his utopian projections.

  2. RT @edwrather: Supreme court risks destroying what respect remains for the constitution by avoiding eligibility issue http://bit.ly/hPLs …

  3. RT @edwrather: Supreme court risks destroying what respect remains for the constitution by avoiding eligibility issue http://bit.ly/hPLs …

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