You might not have heard of SooMeta yet but I suspect you will soon. The team that brought us Dragontape has now made a tool that allows anyone to create CNN mini wrap reports (see an example below) but with minimal effort and skill…almost nothing. It’s simplicity is quite beautiful. Oh and there’s a big play on polls… read on for more about that. Current partners (APIs being used at least) include Soundcloud, YouTube, Yahoo! Images and Twitter… sounds like a good mix for breaking news. I grabbed its Co-Founder — Tamas Szakal — for a quick interview to go a bit deeper into the service, its features and future.
So what is Soo Meta? Who is it aimed at and why did you set it up?
While working on our first cool product with our company our children started schools and we realized that education hasn’t really changed for at least the last 30 years. The same tools and methods are being used now as when we went there. Today, kids grow up with smartphones in their palms and of course, to get them engaged and excited we need to change the models around learning!
Education, like journalism and other forms of knowledge transfer, is very much based on storytelling. We learn from stories a lot more since we remember them better than facts. So we came up with a concept and a video-based technology that allows teachers, students, but also bloggers and journalists to tell immersive rich media stories in minutes by using videos, pictures, text and sound from any source on the web.
You are doing something with content which always makes my copyright alarm go off — while there is no monetisation right now, how do you get round this — especially YouTube issues?
When our users pull media elements from different sources the content remains at the original location; we don’t move them to our servers, Soo Meta just streams or displays it right from there. Each piece of content is automatically credited, referenced and the source is linked, so the viewer can click through to see the original context. We store only the metadata that defines which piece of information will appear to a given moment.
Fair enough. You are simply helping people curate. Let’s talk about polls later and if this changes anything there. Talk to me about brands — how can they use the service?
First of all, they can use the it for content marketing purposes. Soo Meta’s new format allows them to create engaging pieces of content as [an] addition to their existing blog posts. Since Soo Meta can be seen as a new iteration to blogging it can even replace traditional articles about any topic that is relevant for a given business where the editor uses more videos and pictures and less text. At the same time the platform’s polling capabilities can be used to measure the impact of a product / service or just to get controlled feedback from fans and visitors to basically any question related to the business.
Okay polls, this is how you make your money. Talk about that for a second — how did you come up with the pricing strategy — why do you think polls are so important?
Everyone who creates and shares content wants to know how it is perceived, what the reactions are and how it influences a certain community. Comments are a good form of getting feedback but it is not easy to get relevant results for a number of reasons: people are often shy to tell what they think, comments must be moderated (and often there are no resources to do so), users need to sign in for the service, etc.
That’s interesting insight — it’s a bit like gaming comments in a way. Sounds like it would be useful for anyone to know what’s resonating and then upweight it. Newsrooms are doing this already in different ways, how do you see them using/liking the service?
Viewers expect visual content instead of long-form articles especially on mobile devices. News organisations can use Soo Meta to supplement news stories with short movies without the contribution of pricey and time-consuming video editing processes. Every journalist and blogger can easily create a visual story in minutes. Also, news editors can poll the audience with the help of the service and get detailed statistics about their reader’s viewing habits, their feedback and their geographic location.
What has surprised you about the early uptake?
A story published with Soo Meta looks easy and simple but creating a complex piece is a complex process as you need to synchronize different types of media and keep your potential viewers in mind all the time. Compared to text editing it’s heavy of course but it’s radically easier than any video editing solution (think iMovie or Premiere). It was surprising how quickly our users learn how to get started. We’re focusing on a simple-to-use environment but we wouldn’t have thought that journalists and teachers adopt it so fast. We’re really happy about it.
What is interesting/inspiring you right now?
I’m very much inspired by the idea of reversing traditional learning methods. The model is called ‘flipped learning”: educators move traditional lectures outside of the school: students watch pre-recorded video instructions at home on their own devices while turning the classroom into a collaborative learning environment. This allows teachers to spend the time with problem solving, interactive discussions, quizzes, 1:1 sessions, etc. A simple but great concept! In this case technology radically alters behaviours and leads to a cultural change: students get much more excited and interested through an engaging form of learning while teachers get extremely motivated because they can start focusing on filling the classroom time with meaningful discussions, a lot more interactions and creative workshops.
This article by Paul Armstrong originally appeared on PaulArmstrnong.net, a Burn Media publishing partner.