The One-Man Social Media Empire

Social Media Empire BagI was always told “You don’t go looking in ladies’ handbags, you never know what you might find” which seemed more of a temptation to me than a discouragement. And in that spirit, today I’m going to open up my one-man social media empire bag and let you know exactly what’s in it.

First an explanation for those who haven’t been following. I’ve been talking about having a one-man social media empire for some time now. I often stand up at events, lift up my green canvas bag and show off about how it contains a newspaper, radio station, tv station and film production company. I don’t understand why more people aren’t doing it – or maybe they are and I’m too busy bragging about my own stuff that I fail to notice everyone else smirking and tittering behind my back – it has been known. Anyway a large proportion of my time is now taken up creating what I call “Rich Records

I’m tempted to make a video of me emptying the bag, but I’ve decided against it as it wouldn’t actually tell you a great deal more than the following, other than to give you a realistic view of what a ridiculous proportion of cable to kit there really is.

I have to admit that I’ve never been one for splashing out on kit. Ever since I started podcasting I’ve only used what came to hand, stuff that I’d already got – and while I’ve had to replace some items, I’m much more interested in what I can do with them, rather than how much they cost or how funky the spec-sheet is. But this might be useful to those sad souls out there who would like to emulate my empire. Calculating the cost of replicating the kit here is left as an exercise for the reader.

So then, the contents of my bag:

Laptop

OK, so you need something that can connect to the interwebnets, preferably wirelessly and with a battery that holds a charge for a long time. I had to get a cheap and heavier than I’d like Toshiba after my lovely (but stupidly uninsured) Acer Tablet got nicked. Obviously the lighter the better – needs a sizeable HDD to cope with the amount of video and audio that ends up getting stored and plenty of USB ports. I couldn’t find one at the time that fit my budget and came with a built-in firewire port (for transferring video), so I had to get one on a PCMCIA card – fiddly but workable. Some people will tell you that you really need a Mac in order to do podcasting and videoblogging well. In my experience they are the same people who will always tell you that you really need a Mac. I haven’t used a Mac in anger since 1996 so I don’t really know.

Audio recording

For podcasting and recording an audio track for the more formal (snicker) video stuff I do, I use a Sony Minidisc because that’s what I had lying around in 2004 when I met Adam Curry and saw the podcasting light shining from his podfatherly halo. I have improved on the original (which would only transfer audio to a PC in real time down an audio line) by splashing out on a Sony Hi-MD model MZ-NH700. The Hi-MD disks hold 1GB or “quite a long recording time” Note that they don’t talk to Macs at all.

I have no “cans”. I prefer to look stupid for only having little earbuds rather than looking stupid for looking like Phones out of Stingray.

I have two microphones, both cheap and from Maplin I think, but both do the job.

My stick mic is an SBC MD650 from Phillips – came with it’s own cable and I have a phono to mini-jack converter to plug it into the minidisc. I then have a stereo clip on mic for wandering around stuff. This is a Yoga (I consider myself more of an intermediate :-o ) EM-8 which has far too much cable but does give a really cool stereo vibe, especially weird when listening to me walking in traffic.

Video recording

I have a JVC GR D200 which I picked up in Dixons a couple of years ago for domestic use. I chose it because it was cheap and it fits nicely in my hand and those are the technical criteria I would recommend :-). It records on MiniDV and transfers to PC via a Firewire cable. When I need to buy another one, I’d like quicker transfer to PC and an external mic input. I don’t have a functioning stills camera at the moment but will get a digital SLR when funds allow – I grab stills from video I’ve shot or use my cameraphone.

Tripods

I have two, one is a mini one that sits on a table top and has a mic clip too. I usually use this as a mic stand but have to be wary when interviewing thrusting corporate execs who like to punctuate their speech with thumps on the table. The other is a bit of a cheat as as it doesn’t actually fit into the bag. But especially when I’m doing one-man stuff, it’s good to be able to the put the camera down and walk into the shot or just hold it still for a while several feet above the ground. Not essential, but useful.

Software

Partly a function of the hardware I use but I stick with freebie stuff wherever possible.

I have to use SonicStage to transfer audio from the minidisc – it does however now automatically create .wav files for me so that’s a lot less of a hassle than it used to be. I use Audacity to then edit the audio and produce mp3’s.

For video I just use Windows Movie Maker – it’s fine, it doesn’t have all the bells and whistles but they usually confuse me anyway and it does what I need it to do. If I need to convert to Quicktime I use the AVS video conversion suite which set me back something like 15 quid – a useful feature of this is that it will also strip a wav audio file from a video soundtrack for manipulation in Audacity.

Hosting

Obviously this doesn’t fit in my bag…. but it popped into my head that this might be useful information too. I put my videos on YouTube now – may switch if they start to get evil. I also have a couple of libsyn accounts which are useful because they have unlimited download bandwidth but they’re used primarily for podcasts and audio files. I blog here using MovableType but use wordpress.com for freebie blogs.

Cables

Don’t get me started. Separate power cables (with transformers) for each bit of hardware (laptop, minidisc, camera); mic cables; firewire cable from camera to laptop; USB cable from minidisc to laptop; stereo audio line for carrying an audio signal from minidisk to laptop when doing Skype recording (whole other post)

The bag itself came from a very excellent NMK event at the ICA last year – funkiest conference bag ever.

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7 thoughts on “The One-Man Social Media Empire”

  1. Thanks for showing the contents of your manbag ;) I wouldnt dream of looking, but didn’t you forget the bottom 1/3 full of crumpled receipts, sweet wrappers, pens, tissues, rescue remedy, emergency chocolate, and 1/2 a squashed banana? no? that’s just me then?
    What is a Mac in anger?
    I think with cameras the lighter the better, as then you can always have it with you. But it has to zoom. Someone once bought me an SLR (film) and I have never used it- too heavy. I don’t know what digi SLR’s are like.

  2. Well, I don’t do sweets, chocolate or bananas (aaah I’m so holy) but hands up to all the rest – especially the pens (and pencils, oh so many pencils). Oh yeah and train tickets. And crumpled bits of torn-off index card from my “hipster PDA”

  3. Lloyd, great to hear the ‘In The City Interactive’ conference I helped put together while at NMK has left a solid, lasting legacy and so magnificently facilitated your empire. I must dig my bag out and see what magic it works for me ;)

  4. Riccardo – yes I do, I even feel uncomfortable riding the tube with all the electromagnetic stuff in there – but I do make sure I back-up everything quickly…except when I don’t! :-)

    Beth – it’s green, honestly, I know it doesn’t show in the picture, but it’s true!

    Deirdre – thank you for giving it the full title, I was being slack and not bothering to remember it properly. What I must do next is get them branded and get some matching crew t-shirts.

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