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.