How to Make YouTube and Chromecast More Social

Adding a subscriptions tab to profile pages would make YouTube more social, greatly improve Chromecast viewing and empower both users and creators while bolstering views. If it were easier for YouTube users to see what their friends were watching, it would make it easier — and more fun — to discover new programming and subscribe to more channels on YouTube, while empowering the personal profile/channel as a social platform.

“Google doesn’t get social media.” This sentiment’s been bandied about since the dawn of social in the mid-aughts. Google executive chairman of the board Eric Schmidt even admitted recently that his biggest regret as CEO was “not anticipating the rise of social…”

Social media can be very loosely defined as a construct and in the ever-changing operating system of the web and its users, Google is still poised to thrive even as it continues to slowly, but surely ramp up its own platform, Google+. But things begin to get real when some key moves are made to create a more social environment within YouTube. While SoundCloud took cues to become the YouTube equivalent for audio, YouTube can learn from SoundCloud’s superior integration of social subscription discovery and how that improves the user experience.

YouTube Chromecast Subscribe to ChannelsYouTube is Google’s gateway to the living room and with the $35 Chromecast dongle now available in several countries, YouTube could become the primary source of both information and entertainment for both cable subscribers and cord-cutters alike. Chromecast makes it easier than ever to watch online video on a television. Sure, Roku and Apple TV have been around for years but Chromecast has the best YouTube integration and can be controlled via native mobile apps or a laptop.

What’s missing? A way to navigate and discover YouTube content based on your personal interest and those of your peers. A more social YouTube can empower not only users but also content creators while redefining the way we use Chromecast.

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Unofficial SXSW 2014 Parties You Should RSVP To

Jay-Z at Austin City Limits Live ACL Live 2012 SXSW

RSVP to many events. Then roll with it. You might end up front and center like this (Jay-Z at ACL Live, SXSW 2012).

SXSW Interactive is one of the most attended conferences of the year for tech and media types, with 30,000 conference participants flooding Austin. But in recent years, the cost of an official interactive badge has gone up considerably and many are attending unofficial SXSW parties and related events that do not require badges. For people who have never attended SXSWi, it’s good to go with a badge at least one year — the depth and breadth of content discussed across hundreds of panels and sessions can be as valuable and high quality as the networking you’ll do. However, it gets redundant year after year. In past years I’ve attended the music portion of SXSW as well — this is incredibly fun and far fewer people spend time in the actual convention center. Why would you with all the amazing day parties and live music showcases across sunny Austin? Here’s a shortlist of unofficial events that I’ve RSVP’d for this year. For more info and discovery of unofficial SXSW parties I recommend Sched.org, do512, and Unofficial SXSW Guide.

Want to meet up in Austin? I’ll be there from March 6-12. Hit me up!

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Coachella 2013 Highlights, Videos and Photos

coachella 2013

This year’s Coachella lineup was underwhelming from the start, so much so that I didn’t plan on going until a pass fell in my lap about a week before the festival. It wasn’t necessarily the bands in the lineup that I thought was weak, it was the lack of originality and dynamics that I’ve come to expect from a Coachella. No Rolling Stones or David Bowie. No Replacments. Hardly any hip-hop, punk or imaginative electronic music. Too many wimpy “punch-me-in-the-face” bands like Phoenix, The xx, Postal Service… Basically, i feared Coachella had lost its edge. As much as the environment and experience was always more than fulfilling to me, I wasn’t ready to shell out $500 in support of a lineup that seemed staged for taking a big nap on the Polo Grounds.

coachella 2013 panoramic from ferris wheel

Coachella 2013 Panorama from Ferris Wheel: Click to embiggen

In the end I had a blast — Coachella is one of those great experiences that triggers dopamine bursts just at the thought. The first heat of late spring under the desert sun, 100,000 people all out for good times, good music and big smiles. 6 stages (with this year’s introduction of the Yuma Tent) and all kinds of inebriating distractions.

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Interview: Calexico’s Joey Burns

Calexico Joey Burns interviewThe lights went out last time Calexico visited Los Angeles. Fans at the Fonda Theatre waited for hours in darkness, but a Hollywood Boulevard power outage literally stole the show. “My parents were there, my sister and the whole label and we’re all sitting in the dark,” said Joey Burns, singer and guitarist for the band. “I loved every moment and we probably could’ve played acoustically, but there were safety concerns.”

Calexico’s seventh long-player, Algiers, had recently dropped, marking the band’s first opportunity to play live for its new label, Anti. But after a short acoustic song, Burns bid the remaining crowd good night with a promise to return in January. And tonight, Calexico makes good on its promise at the El Rey.

This interview originally posted at LAist.

We caught up with Joey Burns, Calexico’s principal member, to talk about his L.A. upbringing, life in Tucson and more.

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Yes That’s Me in That Cisco Commercial

I got a text from Brent yesterday: “Are you in a Cisco commercial?!” And I knew my fraction-of-a-second of fame had gone live, on nationwide basic cable (namely, CNN). It all came about the Sunday after I moved from Echo Park to Venice (in October). I was walking around Abbot Kinney Festival when a young woman with a Flip camera stopped me. It was election season and I was initially skeptical as dozens of people were roaming about with clipboards and Roseanne/Cindy Sheehan 2012 stickers. Then she explained that she was sent out to cast a specific role for a commercial and the director really liked working with regular, man-on-the-street types found at farmers markets and street festivals. I spoke to her casually on camera about how I had just moved to Venice from Echo Park that week and was looking forward to a nice change of pace on the west side.

A couple days later I got a call.

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Two Weeks in Belize (Photos)

sunrise at ak'bol san pedro belize

Late last year I found a two solid weeks to travel in a country that I’ve never visited and I’m very happy to have chosen Belize. I LOVE traveling and I feel unfulfilled if I go a certain period of time without extensive travel, preferably internationally. This was my first such solo adventure since 2007-2008 when I used up my vacation days (thanks Warner/Chappell) to go to Argentina and Chile. I wanted to explore, and get in some adventure along with some quality relaxation and recharging after an exciting but jam-packed quarter running social for The X Factor (among other things).

Belize was an amazing country to visit and I had an incredible experience first near near San Pedro on Ambergris Caye and then in the jungle and at Tikal in Guatemala before rounding out my visit on the paradisical Placencia peninsula.

Read about my travels in the following photo essay (Click on a photo to view captions and scroll through as slideshow). Special thanks to Milio and Kirsten at Ak’Bol on Ambergris Caye and to Paradise Resort in Placencia.

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Living Without a Gallbladder

I feel healthier than ever as I type this. But two weeks ago I was in the worst discomfort of my life and couldn’t figure out why until I eventually drove myself to the nearest urgent care and ultimately had a cholecystectomy — my gallbladder was removed.

This was major surgery, the first (and hopefully last) of my life. What I thought was severe heartburn that would pass was in fact pain from gallstones and a nasty infection surrounding my gallbladder. It never dawned on me that I could have a serious medical issue but in hindsight I had experienced similar abdominal discomfort on 4 or 5 occasions over the course of 18 months or so. It typically lasted less than two hours and I would simply lay down and breathe through it. I was naïve and assumed I had a much lower tolerance for pain than I actually do.

I thought I was taking ace care of myself — I was (and am) in the best shape of my life. I hadn’t even had a cold or flu in years and apparently didn’t even remember what it felt like to have a fever. But I did have a fever and an extremely high white blood cell count as my body fought to contain a nasty infection.

I learned a lot over the past two weeks. Here’s how it all played out…

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