A couple weeks ago I went down to Miami for Future of Web Apps (FOWA). It was a great event and I highly recommend it to web developers and entrepreneurs. I did a keynote talk and the next day I did a three and a half hour workshop. I knew the keynote was being recorded and I had that in my head as I was talking on the stage. I did not know the workshop was being recorded but it was.
After the workshop was over, Ryan Carson, the founder of Carsonified which puts on FOWA and a number of other interesting events, asked me if he could post the 3.5 hour workshop video. My immediate reaction was “hell no” but instead I said, “let me look at it first.”
On Friday I posted two videos that came from the talk I gave at InSITE last wednesday. The entire 1.5 hours of conversation was recorded and is available here. Again, I did not know that the entire talk including Q&A was going to be posted on the web and friday morning, I spent 1.5 hours of time I did not have watching each and every minute of that video to make sure it was cool to have it on the web.
If I seem paranoid about this stuff, I am. I watched what happened to my friend Mark Pincus when he said something highly candid and off the cuff last year in an impromptu talk to entrepreneurs that was unfortunately being filmed. Some entrepreneur asked Mark about keeping control of your startup and Mark said that the only sure way to do that is get revenues early. He went on to say that they were so focused on revenues in the early days of Zynga that they did some things he didn’t like. He then mentioned the Zwinky toolbar and said he installed it on his machine and couldn’t get it off. And then went on to say that he told his developer to take that lead gen offer down.
Of course, that’s not what everyone saw when TechCrunch posted a clip from that unfortunate video. They just saw the comment about the Zwinky toolbar without the context.
So when I see a video of me on the web, I watch the entire thing and look at every minute in that light. I am paranoid about someone taking a 30 second clip and leaving out the rest. If I see anything that is risky in that way, I ask them to take down the video or better yet I ask them not to put it up.
That’s why I wasted 1.5 hours of my time on Friday morning at 5am watching a video of myself. And that’s why I may have to waste 3.5 hours of my time watching my FOWA workshop at some point. I was highly candid in that FOWA workshop and asked people not to Twitter some things I said. That’s how I can provide the most value to the people in attendance (as Mark was trying to do). So that FOWA workshop video is risky in my mind.
Of course, I can simply ask people not to videotape me or ask them not to post it on the web. But that’s not a great option either. There were 30 or 40 people in the room at the InSITE talk the other night. Almost 1000 people have watched the first video on YouTube and over 50 have watched every single one of them. That’s the power of the web, to reach way more people that can attend in person.
So that’s the world we have to live in now. One that assumes when you talk in public, it will be recorded and posted on the web. One that assumes that someone will look at that video and seek an opportunity to pull a clip out of context and post it. And so if you do a lot of public speaking, you simply need to speak with that in mind in your head. It makes me feel like a politician to tell you the truth. It’s a horrible feeling but honestly I don’t know if there is any other way.
Fred Wilson is a partner at Union Square Ventures. He writes the influential
, where this post was originally published.