8MM Movies And Private Audiences With Steve Jobs Inspire Ex-NeXT Programmer To Give Us Givit [CES 2012]



LAS VEGAS, CES 2012 – For Greg Kostello, an amiable ex-Apple and NeXT software developer with a goofily winning smile, there’s an intimacy and immediacy in a smaller audience. It’s something Greg discovered first as a kid showing his latest home movie neighborhood blockbuster in a small garage crammed with kids. It’s a lesson that deepened giving personal software demos at NeXT in a small office close to Steve Jobs himself. And it’s something that Greg is now trying to impart to the YouTube Generation with his new video sharing site, Givit.

The thing about online video, according to Kostello, is that it’s inherently a spectacle. You shoot a video and upload it to a service like YouTube or Vimeo, where it can be viewed, commented upon and discovered by millions of users. It defaults to public sharing, and while you can make videos private, the process is convoluted: a site like YouTube is making its money off of ad impressions, and so they want each video to be watchable by as many people as possible.

But that’s weird. Most video is actually only meant to be viewed by an extremely small audience. For example, if you take a video of your toddler taking some of his first steps across the living room, you probably only want to send it to a handful of friends and family members. You don’t want millions of people watching it, calling your kid ugly or criticising your choice of wallpaper.

Enter Givit. Something like a Dropbox for video, Givit is a video sharing service that defaults to private, allowing you to share videos from your iPhone, iPad or Mac to a small, hand-picked audience of the people you want to see the video. No matter what platform you’re on, you can quickly store your video in your free 2GB Givit dropbox, add recipients and share it with your friends and family, who can then respond in kind with videos of their own.

For Kostello, this site is the culmination of a lifetime learning lessons about the joys and rewards of a small, personally engaged audience. And Apple founder Steve Jobs himself inadvertently helped inspire the germ of the idea that would eventually become Givit.

Kostello first learned about the importance of a small, engaged audience as a kid who became obsessed with the idea of making home movies. After begging his parents for months for a camera, they finally bought him an old 8mm handheld at a yard sale, and soon Greg had half the kids in the neighborhood starring in his own 8mm epics. Collecting his friends and family in the garage and projecting his finished movies on the wall, Greg was able to appreciate firsthand how his efforts and imagination delighted and inspired the people closest to him.

But it was Kostello’s time at NeXT in the early 90’s that really opened his eyes to the rewards of an intimate audience. After working at Apple for a time on MacWrite, Kostello jumped ship to NeXT in 1993, where he worked creating the original Pages. Unlike the program that still resides in Apple’s iWork suite, Pages was a revolutionary WYSIWYG web editor — half desktop publishing app, half word processor — that featured CSS-like stylesheets years before they became popular.

During his time at NeXT creating the original Pages, Steve Jobs would often come into his office and peer over Greg’s shoulder, pointing out things he liked and things he thought needed changing in the program. The end result? A program that even the notoriously demanding Steve Jobs himself could be proud of enough that even today, Apple still uses the name.

Givit isn’t just another online video sharing site. It’s another part of Steve’s legacy, proving that it’s the personal experience, the way computers can bring us intimately together, that’s really the grand point of all the computers and gadgets in our life. And Kostello says he’s more proud of it than his best work at Apple and NeXT.

You can find Givit on the web, or the free app here.

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  • ddevito

    NeXT saved Apple. How crazy would it have been if Apple did indeed choose BSD to lead the OS X development efforts rather than the NeXT OS?

    Apple may have been an open source company.

    I just blew your minds.

  • Steve Lawrence

    Hmmm… nice idea but there’s a couple of issues. First, people that want to share with closed audiences at the moment are currently using YouTube and either marking the videos as private or making them unlisted, and sharing them that way. I have quite a library already that I share with my family so I’d be wary about jumping ship to a new service and starting a whole new library, leaving my old behold. 

    Second, the 2GB limit seems quite small considering the size of video files. I don’t want to delete as I go, and I don’t want to pay for more when YouTube is free (and probably always will be).

    Lastly, if this really does take off and starts to make a dent in YouTube user numbers, what’s to stop YouTube just refining the process of sharing videos privately? If they did that there would simply be no reason to look elsewhere…

  • Greg Kostello

    Hi Steve,A big part of Apple’s vision is on making complex activities easy. Givit follows that vision by making the workflow of private sharing simple and straightforward. Private video sharing isn’t something that you have to think about with Givit – video sharing is private by default. It’s the opposite of YouTube where you have to take action to make something private. The 2GB limit is very similar to Dropbox – it’s enough to get you going to see if you really like the service. Casual users will probably find it more than adequate.  And just like Dropbox, it is only the users that find the service very useful that end up opting for the premium service.We love YouTube but the primary use for YouTube is public distribution of content. The experience is optimized around that and it should be. The YouTube IOS apps are all about watching video – not uploading and sharing.  Givit is different – the IOS apps are ALL about sharing and creating a private conversation around your video. I encourage you to try the service. It’s free to try. I think you will find the overall experience very different from YouTube. Please give it a try – we welcome your feedback.