State of the SMYN Network Address [2014]

(The written transcript for the speech above is as follows below)

My fellow SMYNjas,

I address to you all at a peculiar time in the history of the SMYN Network. Can you believe it has been nearly two years since we first announced our plans for this group of shows?

Yet, there exist some feelings that we are stuck. That we have stagnated. That we are just going through the motions.

Let’s address that. What has changed since the Network’s inception, or even more to the point, since more recently?

Simply put: Real life happened.

Jobs have been added, subtracted, or have changed in responsibility. Living situations have changed, causing difficulties in new places. Personal struggles, from medical, to emotional or otherwise have hit us hard. Speaking for myself, I need to finish my master’s degree. That, combined with increased duties at work and the beginning of a journey of personal self-improvement has been keeping me in a bind. While continuing the shows I am working on is important to me, I cannot devote the time at this point in my life right now to make my shows grow. As an example, due to travel for work this past week, I have only been home for one day. Not to mention, I know that other Network hosts are going through their own limitations. Thus, stagnation.

See, those who have “figured it out” with their online shows and have reached success? The ones who can currently make a living off of those ventures? It was not an easy road for them. It took time for many of them. Internet “stardom” is not the result of some sort of magic formula, nor should it be an end-all, be-all goal. It’s like the person who wants to be in the anime voiceover industry, just because they want to be invited as a guest to conventions. Guess what – if you want all of the rewards without caring about the work behind it? You just may be doing it wrong!

So, today is NOT a declaration of the SMYN Network ceasing to be. It is an acknowledgment of stagnation and a plan of hopes for future improvement.

My goal is a refresh of the SMYN Network. A version 2.0, if you will. I do not know how long this process will take. However, you need to know that I am not giving up on Show Me Your News and its related shows.

I personally continue to podcast because of how much it means to me and because I have fun doing it. SMYN played an integral role in helping me get the job that I have today. If any of us have hesitations about continuing our respective shows just because “we haven’t made it big yet,” I challenge their motivation for working on their show in the first place.

You know where I stand. If this were all about Internet success, I would have stopped long ago. “Making it big” should not be the only motivation, though it may be a nice thing to achieve. The enjoyment you take in the process and the connections you make with others – that’s the real reason you work in self-started web media. Trust me, as someone who has tasted this “success” before.

All right. So, life is very challenging for us at the moment. What am I going to do about it?

Well, I can only do all I can. I can’t be alone in this undertaking. That said, here is what I HOPE to do.

First, we as a staff are going to need to make decisions regarding the shows that will represent the Network in the version 2.0 refresh. Some shows will have to go by the wayside and some will be added or expanded. Do we see SMYN Top Ten as a viable, stand-alone show in the future, with continued SMYNja support? How will Read the Manual grow with its added slate of shows? How do we best handle Superfluous and Superplex, with the hosts’ current time and technical limitations? These are just some of the discussions that will need to take place.

I feel as if I need to speak for “WTF, Pokémon!?!” at this point, which has gone on bit of a hiatus since Youmacon 2013, due to these real-life issues setting in. See, Marc – who you may know as SwordHunter – and I are at a kind of hurdle with the series. We have accomplished what we originally set out to do with the Indigo League episodes and we even added the Orange League. We are so proud to have completed this. As far as movies and specials go, with the completion of Pokémon Heroes, we have covered the films that we had seen when we were younger. Do we have what it takes to make that next step with Jirachi: Wish Maker, featuring characters we do not know as well, in May and Max? Not to mention, with Blip recently deciding to break their feed connections with iTunes, we may have essentially lost that audience again. We cannot start over on another video portal. Not again.

Here lies our trepidation, and that’s even without consulting Phil on his interest in continuing the project. We would really like to host another Youmacon panel again, perhaps even an 18+ panel that is uncensored this year. There are also things that I still want to do with WTFP, like another musical episode. So, I don’t think we are done counting the errors, logical mistakes, plot holes and poor writing. It’s just a matter of having the courage to take that next step – to cover Jirachi: Wish Maker, Destiny Deoxys, and then hopefully Lucario and the Mystery of Mew at Youmacon. Or, depending on how the timing works out, it would actually be very satisfying to show our take on Mastermind of the Mirage Pokémon at an 18+ panel at Youmacon.

Now, back to improvements, we have a great deal of website enhancements to work through. TheBuzzSaw is going to play a critical role here, which is challenging with his schedule as a full-time worker and a father. Real life strikes again! This is something we have needed to do for quite some time now, though it is really just a matter of getting around to it.

Furthermore, there are some things that I personally need to take care of before I can devote the full time and effort that I strive towards for the Network. First and foremost, I need to create and finish the documentary that I am working on for my master’s thesis. This keeps weighing on me because without it, I cannot graduate, receive my Master of Arts degree that I have been working on since 2011, and move on with the next chapter of my life. Currently, the project is stuck in university-mired pre-production and the goal is to be finished by the fall. I have a lot of work to do here.

At the same time, house improvements at “The Dojo” continue. This summer’s project is the production room, which could have a very positive impact on SMYN’s future. Yes, the room where I currently podcast from is still a complete disaster of a mess, thanks to our huge basement construction project. To have a clean space with an in-set recording booth, revamped lighting for proper use of the green-screen wall, and an ideal area for vocal, video, and music production – that’s the dream. This has been on my mind for a while now and I think it could benefit our Network tremendously.

Marc and I have been making these kinds of investments already, with our new streaming computers that enhance our Twitch quality and presence. After the cost involved in finishing the production room, the next big planned purchase for SMYN will be a professional video camera. Since I am technically working in that industry for my full-time job, the purchase has justified beneficial applications there as well. Also, to put it simply, a webcam or Flip camera just doesn’t cut it anymore for my personal aspirations. The hope is to have this done by the end of the year. Can you see it now? A Game of the Year award show that is presented as an edited video? One can dream!

Anyway, these thoughts about video relate to something that I have been thinking about for a while now. Podcasts are a great means of entertainment for their portable applications. However, as digital media lends itself more to video every day, staying in an audio-only rut will only lead to future irrelevance. Consider this – what was one of the main reasons why SMYN was so popular in its early days, aside from its niche in a very specified audience? It’s because it was 2007 and an audio-only podcast was great for web media consumers at the time. Think about the media that is popular with audiences today, in 2014. Tastes and consuming habits have totally changed! Abandoning a podcast is not the answer, but diversification of media absolutely is. That said, for the SMYN podcast as we know it today, I hope to give its livestreamed video and YouTube archive version a facelift, assisted by the inclusion of group Skype video calls. Additionally, some further refinements to the podcast’s format are being considered by Super, Tony, and me. I hope to discuss these with you at a later date.

However, the refinement of the video version of the podcast is not the only addition I have in mind for the “Show Me Your News” brand. My hope is to add a video show that complements the bi-weekly, gaming news overview podcast. This YouTube show would take place on a much more frequent basis, perhaps every couple of days, and it would be a means of reacting to gaming news in a faster, more focused, more opinionated way. I see it as a kind of format blend between ScrewAttack’s “Hard News” and GameTrailers’ “The Final Bosman.” SMYN Dailies? SMYN Soapbox, perhaps? Obviously, the show is still in concept only and production can only begin properly once the video camera has been purchased. I just wanted to give you a sense of where my head is at, in terms of future show development.

Group video calling also expands possibilities for Down the Sidelines, as I would like to move that into a video format in time, as well. Perhaps something that has a visual structure to the SMYN video podcast in 2009? I still maintain that the format attempted then was bold for its time and it struggled for a few other reasons. So, five years later, the technology advancements should allow for a revisit. Again, this is in the “hope” stage right now and it will still need some time before it is used officially.

Finally, there are other projects that I would like to attempt in my spare time, which happen to be music-related. The last album that I recorded with my own original guitar music was completed in 2007, before the days of SMYN even started. For those that remember my decision to include one of those songs in the Easter Egg of Episode 13 of SMYN, yes, it has been that long! Also, I have been wanting to make a “Let’s Strum” show which highlights guitar chord progressions for popular songs that I choose to play. You may remember some of these types of videos that I have done before, but this show would take a more informative and instructional approach.

All of these thoughts. All of these hopes. I don’t know how my personal self-improvement process will change things soon. I don’t even know how a future romantic relationship could change things. Change happens. It is unpredictable. All we can do is adapt the best we can.

In the end, it all comes back to you, SMYNjas. We do this for you and we can’t do this alone. As the summer begins, I encourage you to ask your fellow community members – “What can we contribute together?” You are the reason our wide network of friends still exists today and with your individual talents, I know you can do something great. It just comes down to finding the time.

Because yes, real life happens.

And you all deserve to know that I haven’t given up on the SMYN Network. Not by a long shot.

Thank you for listening. I will now take any questions and comments you may have.