We're familiar with celebrities tipping their toes in the social media waters. A number of actors now have their a number of pet projects. Some like Ashton Kutcher actually head up social media marketing firm like the Katalyst Network or Ian Somerhalder and his news activist site in beta called "Ryot," or Justin Timberlakes' current attempt at welcoming defectors back to MySpace. But up till now, there's been no political figures actively involved in a social media enterprise. That was, until Cory Booker created #waywire.
As no stranger to the limelight, this mayor is said by some to have super powers. Saving a neighbor from a burning building, starring in the TV docu-series "Brick City," taking on a food stamp initiative, and letting Hurricane Sandy victims crash at his pad are just of few of the high-energy-charged challenges Newark, New Jersey's mayor has taken on.
However, nothing is as significant as his deep dive into the social media ecosystem of video news-making. Perhaps to compete with the likes of YouTube and Vimeo, Mayor Cory Booker has founded the social media network #waywire. Collaborating with Google's executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, the mayor's new wrinkle on the social networking mousetrap is for users to speak through their videos.
In a promotional video filmed on location at Washington Square Park in New York City, politically-engaged young men and women are circumspect about the divisive soundbite- and celebrity-obsessed state of today's news, eager to offer a more introspective take on news-making.
In a Time Tech interview that Kelly Conniff held with Booker at the recent SXSW in Austin, Texas, the mayor sees his new social network as a way to really impact current events through the eyes of the public. "And better yet," notes Booker, "it encourages people to 'disrupt' the system. . . with videos. . . that allows us to take on problems we haven't taken on before."
#Waywire is media platform that combines original and syndicated videos with relevant user-generated content about what's important to the 'average-joe' as interpretted from their vantage point. “Traditional news sources aren’t in any way talking to millennials,” Mr. Booker tells TechCrunch. "Perhaps the site can start with whether any young adult actually wants to be labeled a 'millennial'?" says the Mayor.
In addition to disrupting legacy news channels, Booker's CEO Nathan Richardson is determined to disrupt YouTube. "Conventional television is dead and YouTube is broken," explained Richardson. "If you go to YouTube today and if you search for the song 'Stuck in a Moment' by U2, you're not going to find the official version by U2. You're going to find the karaoke versions. You're going to find the armpit version covers, but you won't find the one that you're looking for."
#Waywire currently in its alpha stage having received $1.75 million in seed funding so far and said it will launch in beta within the next 30 days. But if you go to the website, there's lots of uploaded videos to provide viewers with insight as to where this social network is heading. Are you an amateur videographer biting at the bit to join? Let us know why, readers?