The Dead Pixels Society podcast

Early digital photography, social media and life balance with Brian Solis, author and futurist

April 23, 2022 Gary Pageau/Brian Solis Season 3 Episode 74
The Dead Pixels Society podcast
Early digital photography, social media and life balance with Brian Solis, author and futurist
Show Notes Transcript

Gary Pageau of the Dead Pixels Society talks with Brian Solis, author and futurist, about the early days of digital cameras, what Kodak got wrong, the growth of social media, and why balancing your life is vitally important.

Brian Solis is Global Innovation Evangelist at Salesforce, the global leader in Customer Relationship Management (CRM). His work at Salesforce focuses on thought leadership and research that explores digital transformation, innovation and disruption, CX, commerce, and the cognitive enterprise.

Brian Solis has been called “one of the greatest digital analysts of our time.” He is also a world-renowned keynote speaker and an award-winning author of eight best-selling books including, X: The Experience When Business Meets Design, What’s the Future of Business, and The End of Business as Usual.

In his latest book, Lifescale: How to live a more creative, productive and happy life, Solis tackles the struggles of living in a world rife with constant digital distractions. His model for “Lifescaling” helps readers overcome the unforeseen consequences of living a digital life to break away from diversions, focus on what’s important, spark newfound creativity and unlock new possibilities.

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Erin Manning  
Welcome to the Dead Pixels Society podcast, the photo imaging industry's leading news source. Here's your host, Gary Pageau.

Gary Pageau  
The Dead Pixels Society podcast is brought to you by Mediaclip, Photo Finale and Advertek Printing. Hello again, and welcome to the Dead Pixels Society podcast. I'm your host, Gary Pageau. And today we're joined by an old friend, Brian Solis, visionary, author, and business consultant and Salesforce global innovation evangelist. Hi, Brian, how are you today?

Brian Solis  
Yeah, I'm great. You got the word old, right? That's for sure.

Gary Pageau  
Now, you and I met Oh, my gosh, in the late 90s, when you were actually doing public relations, that was sort of where you carved out the early part of your career. So before we get started into the contemporary stuff, let's lay the framework for those who may not have even been born yet are aware of what the digital camera landscape was at the time. And what the digital OH S was all about? Oh,

Brian Solis  
my gosh, yes, Flashpoint. Well, hello, everybody. And Gary, always, always wonderful to see you outside of Facebook, and of course, our past memories. So in the 90s, digital photography was becoming a thing and all the stories, I still tell today about how a lot of this was transformative. And for those who don't follow my work, who have any idea who I am. Back in the 90s, I was a programmer who moved to Silicon Valley from Los Angeles in 1996. And I had this great big vision of just geeking out in Silicon Valley, and at the time was very enterprise hardware. And so in the late 90s, it was this really big shift from, you know, the HPS of the world and the IBM's of the world and servers and Cisco technology to consumer facing digital hardware, and ultimately what would become web one Dotto and the consumerization of the internet. And Gary and I met, we met at this time when hardware and the Internet were starting to merge together. And I think the market was 99.9% film at the time, and the digital assets was flashpoints a very ambitious attempt at creating what was the equivalent of Windows or Apple OS, for digital cameras to standardize cameras on a common platform so that software developers could take more than just the ability to capture digital image. But to do more in camera, much of what we see today, for example, on our phones. And I also in that day worked with Kodak, I worked with Rico, I worked with other software and internet companies like club photo SmugMug go around Flickr, which I actually still use to this day, which is owned by the founders now of SmugMug. And I wasn't just public relations, I was also this digital guy who understood the technology, but also applied my understanding the technology to humanize it. So it wasn't just about digital photography, it was the benefits of what digitization of photos were going to do for society, how bringing those images online, we're going to change society and how we interact and connect with one another which would eventually become social media, and ended up becoming also aspiring digital anthropologists along the way to make sense of how this was unfolding, the consumerization of the internet, how that was changing behaviors, and digital photography's role in all of that. So that's a full mouthful, just but now we're up to speed.

Gary Pageau  
Well, the thing is, I don't think a lot of people realize is in that era, it wasn't a given that digital photography was going to take off in the format that it eventually did. Because you know, at the time, hardware was very, very weak. In fact, you needed up until, you know, digit on some of the other operating systems within the cameras, you needed a PC to actually process the file, right, you had to actually log in. And so I know it seems kind of archaic now, but it really wasn't a given back then. So there's a lot of different attempts. But there was a vision even back then that digital photography in some form, whether it was going to be film being transferred to digital or something like that was really going to enhance society as a whole. And being because there was no citizen journalism thing that was starting to happen. You're trying to transmission images and things like that, which today seems kind of quaint, but at the time, it was very, you know, groundbreaking. Moving forward through the 2000s. How did social media Yeah, effect photography as compared to what the way it was to where it is where it became,

Brian Solis  
you know, I love I'll bridge it by addressing one point that you brought up here. And then we'll go to the next, which was, as you said, digital wasn't a given. And that was really a lot of my work, which was not so much public relations as it was market cultivation, which was to help help consumers and and business users and everybody understand what we could unlock through digital photography that we couldn't with traditional photography. So it wasn't just, let's not just think about cannibalization. Let's think about augmentation. And where that got us to social media was sort of this interim step with, you know, at the time, when online photo sharing, like club photo market pioneer, came out with the ability to post your photos online, nobody in their right mind was going to put their pictures online of their families and friends and most private moments. And this, this is the late 90s. And social media really started to unfold around 2005 2006. And I wanted to paint that picture for everybody watching and listening that that's how fast this went from all film, to suddenly social media sharing pictures online. And this is what's really important. It I still teach this in my books, and in my keynotes, which was, you know, Kodak is often blamed for missing the boat on digital, but you and I were there when they had some of the best cameras on the market. Yes, they quite famously said they didn't want to cannibalize their film market. But I think the thing that Kodak the way I talked about as the new Kodak moment was, this is a lesson for businesses everywhere. And social media was sort of the catalyst for this was it wasn't so much about being late to market because certainly we've seen laggards come and go look at GoPro, right, they weren't the first to make a digital video camera, they just found their opportunity. But what Kodak missed was the the evolution of the Kodak moment itself, which was one of the Soulja one of memories, one of printed images in shoe boxes and albums to what digital really did, which was empowered consumers to take so many pictures of so many things that had shifted from memories to experiences. And then what social media facilitated was the sharing of those experiences in real time to keep up with as much and as fast as you were taking those pictures. And so social media essentially was a renaissance, I think for digital photography and digital imaging, but it was no longer as much about nostalgia as it was about experiences. And that was a milestone and a marker in the shift of how consumer behaviors and consumers related to photography, images, and, and community around those images. And I think what social media did for better was it brought us together around our experiences sure created, it created interest graphs and created micro communities of people who shared the same passions and interests. Ultimately, what I didn't foresee because I was a hopeless optimist was how social media would transcend photography into vanity, narcissism. And a lot of things today that we see that's wrong with how, how this, this projection through photography, edited photography, I should say, is communicating to people how we're quote unquote, living our best life, when in fact, we're not ourselves in the photographer in the photography that we represent, at least at a at a mass consumer level. Now don't get me wrong. I also think lastly, to your question, social media also unlocked things like the integration or the hybrid integration between digital photography and digital video, you know, with with hybrid DSLRs, for example, like I use, I still use my my canons, and now my black magics with my Canon lenses to do more than photography, but to also stream stream live video or to stream video in ways that I couldn't do before. So there's this, there's this magic of it, but also this completely new market for all of the things that have happened. And last bit, it was a big question, Gary, which I think is for your listeners and your and those watching right now was that all of these things also create new opportunities for businesses, for ecosystems for markets, in that we haven't seen yet? What's totally possible. The Evolution has been fast, it's been sweeping, but it's still it's still nascent, and it's still it's still it's still party, and we get to form whatever ways we want it to go.

Gary Pageau  
You know, it's interesting, you said because I was at a meeting a few weeks ago with what you were traditionally called camera stores, right? It was a meeting of Cameras are dealers. And a lot of them were talking about their customers, not as photographers, but as content creators, right? That was the language that they're using to adopt. And they're, you know, putting in microphones and gimbals, and all these other products around that low. So I think that the market is getting it right, that they're seeing that, that there's a different level of visual literacy that's out there. Now.

Brian Solis  
Visual Literacy, I like that. I really liked that it's true. In in, in my world, I just call them creators. And those are folks that can go anywhere from Instagram to now tick tock, my goodness, talk about a next breed of creators to those that we know from 2004 that are still thriving, like, like YouTube, but there's going to be there's gonna be a next tick tock like, you know, just like after Instagram, there was Snapchat and then tick tock came on the market, but what all the what what all of these platforms share and how they've all evolved is how a Creator takes equipment, to transcend that experience, whether it's content, whether it's live streaming, whether it's like, just full on cinematography, like we're seeing and like these mini movies that are now on Tik Tok crazy, it's absolutely crazy. And there is an entire market that isn't just for them figuring it out on their own, but for those who want to emulate them, and it's really hard, I'll tell you as, as someone who's been in this game, but also as a consumer, you know, for example, when I when I, when I got my Blackmagic, pocket cinemas, I, I you know, you know how long I've been in this game? I still have a lot of the cameras we talked about earlier, you know, the, I had to I had to have someone show me how to translate the content from these amazing cameras into these new microformats are these new media formats that that visual literacy requires you don't just know and go and grow, you have to continue to evolve if you want to, if you want to be part of these new media, these new media experiences.

Gary Pageau  
And what's interesting is it's almost equipment agnostic, right? I've go to a conference and I put my iPhone 12 Pro on a gimbal. And I have a wireless mic and I interview people. And it's golden material. I mean, in terms of the quality of the video and the audio. And it's it's transparent to the user, what type of equipment is being used, as opposed to you know, there wasn't a time that were long ago where you could really tell it Yeah, that was shot with a handheld that was shot with a point and shoot that was shot with a disposable camera for God's sake. So I think taking that out of it has actually freed up some more opportunity for people taking the hardware requirements out of it, per se.

Brian Solis  
Absolutely. If you look at Versa, Apple, if you're if you're if you're watching Kubrick please get higher resolution face facing cameras. That is, it is got to do that. Second, the wireless mic revolution has been on it's been transformative. gimbals, of course. But road, I work with a company, a friend of mine started a company called Mike me and might see me they have just some of the best high performance cardio mics that you can take anywhere, including labs, like they changed the game for the quality and the caliber of content people want to create, essentially, helping technology keep up with the imagination of the creator and the capability of all of these new platforms, which is just mind blowing, right? We haven't even seen the extent of all of this. But also, there's there's next gen cameras out there too. In fact, Alex, who was one of the cofounders of or founders of Reddit talks about Alexus he talks about a new camera that he just invested in that is essentially not your typical webcam, but it's your webcam that you can take anywhere that emulates like that SLR richness, so that you don't have to understand all the geekiness of these higher performance cameras. But you could still have that look. And that hit that inspiration was to sort of give that to give that experience to everyday everyday only you know, we live in a video first world now. So what what can we do to enrich that just traditional image that we're so used to seeing in meetings all day, and to make it more immersive? And then you add that with filters and we can we can start to do great things. But I guess the long story short of that is what we're doing now, as a result of COVID. And video meetings and all of these new social platforms is unlocking imagination, in how we work, how we create how we consume media, where essentially, everybody in their own way, shape or form, whether they know it or not, is now now in the video game. You, you, you're watching it, you're projecting it. And now you get to choose how you want to experience it and be experienced.

Gary Pageau  
Speaking of experience, I know we're short on time here, but I want to touch on your last book, which is about how to experience your life, life scale, right? How to put all this stuff in perspective. So you were just mentioning, we're inundated with content, we're inundated with video, we're inundated with images. But to some extent, we need to scale back

Brian Solis  
yeah, in in a couple minutes or less. Life scale was my number eight book. And it was not the number eight book I set out to write. I was having a hard time writing book number eight, and I'd come off of 2017 2018, my keynotes at South by Southwest and a couple other conferences around the world, we're increasingly focusing on not just signal to noise ratios in our life, not just the overconsumption or the firehose of information in our lives. But the signal the signal, and the intentional disinformation signals, the signals and the constant distractions and using our phones and trying to keep up with the Joneses, and likes and followers and all of these things that I was constantly presenting new findings of what it was doing to us as individuals and societies as markets, how distractions were not the healthiest how they were rewiring our brains or bodies, how we were now changing our Maslow's hierarchy of needs to things that were more as I called accidental, we became accidental narcissists, and then also how that made us vulnerable to actually perpetuate the vicious cycle. And I realized that Oh, I can't, I'm not just observing this, I'm not just studying this and publishing research on this, I'm also affected, you know, I looked, I looked inside, I looked around my life and said, My goodness, my creativity is just dwindled, my, my ability to just keep in the zone and keep with the flow is just rocked the, my relationships are suffering, the ability to be present to be not just present, you know, with attention spans, but to be be present, you know, to be in someone's life. And that's when I realized, like, I also had had a problem, but you know, at the time, there was not a lot of stuff about what to do about it, you know, go to Burning Man, or go, go to go to a detox camp, or go to the salon Institute in your Big Sur, but those were all temporary solutions, right little fixes, and decided to research it, it's been a couple of years, just understanding how you will first understanding what it's actually doing. So that you can make the case to say, Hey, did you know and or if you've ever felt this is why, but then the rest of the book was dedicated to here's what to do about taking control of your life in a digital first world without getting rid of technology. I mean, I couldn't get rid of my phone I needed I needed in my immediate everything and everything I do, right. So the thing that was really interesting was that it was awakening, but also empowering, to then create a path, which is the life scale path, scaling your life forward with intent and purpose in a direction that you see today. But also that you can grow and scale over time, how you can use technology to actually accelerate and activate that new direction. And I still, it's right here, I still read this book all the time. Because it keeps me on course, there's always new challenges, there's new, there's always new apps, new distractions. And there, there are always new things to do as you unlock the things you set out to do before. So that's life scale. And it is, the last thing I'll do is be incredibly honest with you is that it didn't sell like my other books, because no one and still it's still a thing. It's more important now than before, especially in this just, you know, work from home world, that nobody, nobody knows they have the problem, or that there is a problem or that you know, all of these, these things that they do or don't do are the result of exactly what this is talking about. So it's been the people who get it and the people who've read it, you'll certainly just feel it and they it's been transformative for them but I'm still on the I'm still on the bandwagon of trying to get out there and help people understand. It's not just about the book. It's about just at least being aware of the fact that this is, this is not this is preventing you from actually being living your best life. If people wanted

Gary Pageau  
more information, where can they go to either learn about you or life scale or the digital OS.

Brian Solis  
Speaking of digital, as I heard from Steve Saylor, who was the CEO of that company, recently, it was really nice to hear from him and John Hoye from our Fujitsu days back, and he Wow, anyway, but that's You can reach me at briansolis.com Or at Brian Solis, and all the social platforms if you're interested in life scale, or maybe watch the social dilemma on Netflix if you want to fast forward to see why you should read live scale but life scales on Amazon all my books are on Amazon or your local bookstores support your area go or and other than that, you know, if you ever have any questions or you just want to you want to talk online, just I am I manage my own social media accounts. I'm the first behind and I'm actually engaging with people still.

Gary Pageau  
And you are to your credit, you are responsive everywhere I have interacted with you on I think two or three different platforms. And I don't know how you're scaling it but you're doing it well because carbon response Alright, my friend, take care and great to have you on the show.

Brian Solis  
It's great to see you Okay.

Erin Manning  
Thank you for listening to the Dead Pixels Society podcast. Read more great stories and sign up for the newsletter at www,thedeadpixelssociety.com

Transcribed by https://otter.ai