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Mark Burnett and Brian Solis Chat about New Media and Taking Chances


Image Source: Ken Yeung

You likely know Mark Burnett as the Emmy-winning mastermind behind Survivor, but his list of credits is about a mile long. During BlogWorld 2010, Mark sat down with new media guru Brian Solis to talk about the convergence of media and the future of unscripted drama on the web.

“The need to be certain causes paralysis.” – Mark Burnett

Mark is known for taking risks. Now, reality television and elimination game shows are everywhere, but Survivor was really the first. Although taking risks is scary, during the keynote, Mark emphsized how important it is to your business, and really, to your life. It is a lesson that applies to bloggers just as it applies to television products. You cant never truly be certain that an idea will work. You have to just believe in it and do it.

In fact, Mark went as far as to call the need to be certain a form of procrastination. If you are always worried about getting something perfect, it will never be ready to launch. Perfection is something that will never happen on a blog. Do not procrastinate using the excuse that your site/post/product/whatever isn’t perfect yet. Make it good, and then launch!

Mark’s entire keynote wasn’t about risks, of course. I hope you got to see it live in person or streaming on Ustream at home. If not, check out Rob’s cartoon recap of the event or get your virtual ticket to BlogWorld to have access to all of the keynotes and sessions that happened/will happen this week.

Oh, an something super special that Mark brought along? Never-before-seen footage of his new project, Sarah Palin’s Alaska which will be on TLC! He actually demonstrated the power of social media by posting this video on a random person’s YouTube page and asking everyone to give it a tweet. Check out the video yourself right now:

Mark Burnett with Brian Solis: Convergence

Burnett tells Solis, I pitched 'Joe Lieberman's Connecticut, but nobody bit.

The full title of this session was “Convergence of media and the future of unscripted drama on the web.” Brian Solis (author of Engage and creator of the Conversation Prism infographic you’ve used in at least three slide decks so far this year) interviewed Survivor creator Mark Burnett on how networked communication is challenging, supporting and transforming shows like his.

Cartoon: Jeff Probst tells a contestant 'You've been voted off the island. But on the brighter side, you're trending on Twitter.' It was a fascinating conversation, starting with the essential importance of story to both blogging (something Solis speaks about so eloquently that I wonder if he might have the same kind of spec screenplays buried on his hard drive that I do) and shows like Survivor, where Burnett invoked Joseph Campbell and walked us through the show’s imagery of life, death and  rebirth.

From there, the two looked at the way the online backchannel has transformed water-cooler conversations. Those conversations now start during the show itself, and take place everywhere, Burnett said. “The water cooler is now omni-present.”

Cartoon: two people at a water cooler. One asks: 'So, didja see the liveblogging for Survivor last night?'

The conversation ranged over football legend Jimmy Johnson’s appearance on a rescheduled Survivor to the MTV Movie Awards, before they launched into Burnett’s latest project, Sarah Palin’s Alaska. He described Alaska as “epic”, and we became the first audience to see promotional footage from the upcoming show.

Burnett tells Solis, I pitched 'Joe Lieberman's Connecticut, but nobody bit. Then, at the end, Solis announced a surprise: the footage was being released to the world not through the usual channels, but via Steve Garfield’s YouTube channel. (Burnett acknowledged the plan may have initially caused some agita in the executive suites at TLC.)

TLC exec's head exploding. But tastefully. And educationally. And here, for your viewing pleasure, is that very video:


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