The Inertia

On the latest episode of Jamie O’Brien’s podcast, he sat down with Blair Conklin to discuss river waves. At the top of the episode, they got into a discussion of the development of Conklin’s career, particularly how it has been augmented by his appearance in viral videos online. It turns out that Conklin has an interesting and very compelling theory on how the sport of skimboarding is inherently catered to producing viral content online.

“I think that there’s a kind of a formula to a viral clip these days, and skimboarding seems to fit that mold pretty well,” he explained. The first cornerstone of his argument is essentially that skimboarding is relatively accessible to spectators, especially compared to surfing. He went on, “You want to get people’s attention really quick and with skimboarding the action is right in front of you. Whether you’re running from the beach or running into a wave at Kelly Slater’s wave pool, it’s all happening right there.”

Building on that, the accessibility of skimboarding to audiences makes it equally easy to amass footage. “Anyone and their grandma can film it with an iPhone,” added Conklin “so you end up with all these iPhone clips, whether you want ‘em or not. There’s some really good stuff you can end up with, just from going down to the beach on any given day and getting one good wave.”

Finally, the timing of a skimboard ride fits perfectly into that viral video ‘mold,’ from the dramatic opening seconds to the bite-sized length of a full clip. “It’s almost like the perfect timeframe, too,” said Conklin. “It’s around a 15-second ride, maybe a 10-second ride. The first three seconds is someone sprinting their butt off – ‘Where are they going? What are they doing?’ It kind of puts that question mark to it.”

In the end, the fact that skimboarding seems to be tailor made for the internet has benefitted not only Conklin, but the entire sport. “I think that’s what really put skimboarding on the map, was how well it does on social media,” he concluded. “Now that there’s a bunch of people doing it, and really, really at a high level, it’s helped grow our sport a lot.”


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