The art of social networking
I began to frequent YouTube in the summer of 2006. Where else on the Internet could I find The Mystical Knights of the Oingo Boingo, Kurt Vonnegut on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, the making of the new HBO series John From Cincinnati, Indy 500 footage from the ’60s or cute babies doing embarrassing things — all on the same site? I started posting my own music videos and vignettes from California and also Broad Ripple. I soon discovered the greater possibilities for social networking; people all around the globe were having dialogue. YouTuber Mr. Safety, who also has a page called SMP Films, posted a personal video about a new phenomenon, which he called a “YouTube Gathering” that took place in Hollywood. I learned about other gatherings in San Francisco and Europe, but the one that really attracted my attention was the 777 Meetup in Greenwich Village’s Washington Square Park.
I arrived in New York City, entered Washington Square Park around noon and moved through the crowd of YouTubers. I spotted an elaborate setup of Diet Coke bottles and two men in white coats (EepyBird and Fritz) toting numerous packages of Mentos near the park’s water fountain. They were about to create a scene similar to a Guinness Book of World Records event in Cincinnati, where a multitude of participants sprayed soda fountains of Diet Coke mixed with Mentos. In NYC, city park officials shut it down before anything could happen — much to the chagrin of the YouTubers.
(Later on, Kevin Nalty, a marketing manager, who goes by Nalts on YouTube, organized a watered-down but much videotaped version of the experiment. Nalty and a computer programmer named Paul Bracewell, who runs the youtubemeetup.com site, were the event’s primary organizers.)
I conducted interviews with colorful characters, such as superhero impersonator themightythor1212 (whose video sent to the CNN/YouTube debates made it to the international airwaves); expressomax, who looks like a character from a Wes Craven movie; and MrPregnant, one of the largest men with dreadlocks and gold teeth that I have ever seen.
A YouTuber who goes by the moniker Phantom Razor says to me, “A lot of people here like to be on camera and are a little off center of reality. I feel right at home.”
A Hoosier in the crowd, supricky06, now lives in L.A: “My subscribers are here and it’s fun talking to them. It’s good to put a face with a name. It makes them more real. We’re all real people,” according to supricky.
Christine, who goes by HappySlip, was constantly surrounded by her online fans. Not long before the event, one of her videos, in which she is singing and playing a Hoagy Carmichael song with her own words about going to the 777 event, was featured on the YouTube homepage.
HappySlip said she’s received responses to her videos across various cultures and generations. “From the feedback that I’m getting people are relating to the subject matter because they see their own family members … the things that I’m parodying they see in their own lives.”
The event was scheduled to end at 5 p.m. but YouTubers continued to stick around and shoot video, finally breaking away to find eating establishments. Later that night, the 777 After Party took place at the Grand NYC, a club on East 58th Street. We partied and danced to hip-hop, modern rock and even classic rock and disco into the wee hours of the morning.
Midwestern born and raised, Dan Niswander (pronounced nice-wander) started singing at the age of 5, appeared in some Hollywood movies and played music in the L.A. underground scene. Since returning to Indiana in the mid ’90s, his one-man show, band and variety show “Mystery Monday” at Birdy’s Live became local favorites. In 2004, he took time off to finish his marketing degree, but now he’s back as an Internet artist, showcasing a lot of his work while social networking on Web sites such as YouTube.com.
His “New York Video Journals” can be seen at nuvo.net along with links to many other videos. His 100th video on YouTube, “Top Ten Things YouTubers Really Like About Letterman,” was also recorded in New York City. For more information, you can visit www.niswanderrocktheater.com, www.youtube.com/niswander, www.myspace.com/niswander, www.cdbaby.com/niswander2, www.johpadgett.com/monticello."""