Sunday, October 17, 2010

Ze Frank on emotion and the Web

I first became aware of Ze Frank when he was doing his Web video show in 2006. He was a manic personality whose head filled the tiny video frame as he delivered witticisms with machine gun-like timing.

Frank was attracting a huge audience on the Web long before I discovered him though. He was given a Webby award for the best personal Web site in 2002, when few people even bothered to build personal Web sites.

The video show, by its own design, ended exactly one year after it was started, but Frank continues to keep his loyal fans involved by collaborating with him and each other in clever projects, and linking to other delightful stuff on the Web.

I find it interesting that one of the Web's earliest personalities is still one of its biggest phenomena. Frank is an artist. The Web is his medium. And the connection he has with his huge audience is an emotional one. 

There is a lesson in this for all of us who are furiously drawing flow charts that link Web sites, blogs, social networking feeds and Twitter, in the hopes of finding a magic combination that will generate a Network Effect. The technology itself is not a starting point. The Web is long on technology but short on attention span.

The secret for reaching people is still the same as it was pre-Internet. Ze Frank's success has always begun with empathy for his audience. This allows him to produce participatory performance pieces that build on the emotional connection to delight and fulfill.

His July, 2010 program is now featured on TED Talks, and he just posted it on his Web site. Enjoy.

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