On Wednesday (2.17.10) I hosted an event in Los Angeles. It was about Social Video and how people use it in online communities.  Yet, the evening really became a conversation about the impact of video on obscurity. Our speaker Mark Horvath (http://invisiblepeople.tv) taught me that.

My client, Vpype, a live, interactive video app on Facebook (http://apps.facebook.com/vpypebroadcaster) has done a cool thing by letting us put together Meetups (Meetup.com) all over the world. I feel like that Leonard Cohen song about taking Berlin, because we have now done Meetups in San Francisco, Los Angeles, next month London, and soon New York – so why not, I think we’ll take Berlin.

Anyway, we have these meetups to talk about what Social Video is. Yes, and about the product. But, mainly, we have people show up who are passionate about video – as filmmakers, as media people, app developers, pastors, VJays, bloggers, small business owners. Everyone wants to know about social media, and everyone seems to believe that they need video in their lives.

For me, interactive video seems like the absolute right next step – text is not the only way to interact, and the social graph is in fact a modern bonfire where we sit and tell tales.  I want to SEE and HEAR my storyteller.

Mark Horvath has taken social video to the street and is exposing the invisible.  Mark began as a successful producer in Hollywood. He then found himself homeless, and survived, invisibly for many years.  He found a way into a new life, and began to work in homeless shelters. And, in the last year he has attacked social media with a passion: with not a whiff of sentimentality.

Mark is not documenting. He is not preaching. He is not even thinking about how to “monetize” his content.  He is taking video and social media to the streets and doing two things:

  1. Using social media tools to capture remarkable stories, and doing mass pushes of individual conversations with people without homes to EVERY social distribution channel out there
  2. He is teaching people without homes to use the tools themselves.

As Mark travels this month to Alaska to talk to the hundreds+ people now without homes, or off to South By Southwest (SXSW) to interview leaders there about solutions for the epic growth of homelessness (across all economic spectrums), he is engaged in a new practice: social media as a raw lens on social behavior, NOT just an exploration of online behavior as distributed through tools.

My colleague Arnold Waldstein (www.arnoldwaldstein.com) and I have been talking a lot about this – and Mark proves it: pushing data out to millions of people does not mean a thing if you have no story to tell. And, with video, pushing quick cut videos of yourself talking about your last hot date, and uploading it on Youtube, is a static version of an infomercial about your narcissism.

The real question is this:

What do you want to say?

What person’s life do you want to share through video?

And, really, really, does EVERYONE need to see your video – or are there a few communities that must see your story who can make an impact – on you, on your topic, and on your vision?

Social video is becoming for me a dream of the director John Cassavetes: a way to tell a story that is not neat and slick, but full of a good story – full of people you have never seen.  A way towards being visible – with depth.

Mark Horvath. Rock on.