Television has been getting a much-needed makeover this year,
thanks in part to the advent of new portable video-playing devices. The networks
are scrambling to jump on the bandwagon by offering to sell episodes of various
existing shows, and new companies like Lime are forming to create “next generation”
media. But far more interesting is the explosion of independently produced video
blogs offering lots of surprisingly great amateur video material. Add that to
the always-improving peer-to-peer file-sharing networks such as BitTorrent and
Veoh, which collect and efficiently distribute high-quality video, and video-hosting
sites like YouTube and Ourmedia, which help disseminate it easily, and you get
an explosion of media made by the people for the people. TV is unidirectional
and devoted to its advertisers; post-TV media are made for and distributed among
communities of user/producers in many-to-many networks that open things up. Below,
five great online “shows” that reference TV in some way but go well beyond it.
This Spartan Life | www.thisspartanlife.com|
Damian Lacedaemion’s talk show features his interviews with media artists and
pundits. But instead of doing it in text or video, he meets his guests on the
battlefields of the Halo online shooter game, and they converse while dodging
would-be assassins. Interview subjects in this award-winning machinima show include
experimental filmmaker Peggy Ahwesh, Future of the Book founder Bob Stein and
machinima mavens Ill Clan.
Rocketboom | www.rocketboom.com
| Rocketboom is a three-minute variety show made up of material culled from the
Internet and organized by themes. The September 27 episode, for example, features
a clip from Peter Fischli and David Weiss’ experimental 1987 film The Way Things
Go, the 2003 Honda Cog commercial that’s an “homage” to the film, as well
as a hilarious spoof of the original, all in a quick sequence with host Amanda
Congdon making witty connections.
ACLU’s Freedom Files | www.aclu.tv
| In August, the ACLU began hosting a series of 30-minute downloadable videos
focused on civil liberties. The first one is about the Patriot Act, and the second
is about the Supreme Court, focusing on the case of teenager Lyndsay Earls, who
was required to take a urine drug test to sing in the choir. Co-produced by Brave
New Films, the series is designed to inaugurate a form of “information activism”
by creating a wider context online for considering — and then acting on — the
issues raised in each show.
Nerd TV | www.pbs.org/cringely/nerdtv
| This online talk show from PBS.org, hosted by Robert X. Cringely, is about all
things geek. And while in terms of form it’s fairly standard talking-heads material,
the show is distributed under a Creative Commons license, which means viewers
can re-cut and re-mix episodes and share them with others. Interviewees have included
Internet Archive founder Brewster Kahle, Linux creator Linus Torvalds and Apple
co-founder Steve Wozniak.
Hillman Curtis’ Designer Series | www.hillmancurtis.com/hc_web/film_video.shtml
| Hillman Curtis recently began making short (five- to seven-minute) profiles
of design legends, including Milton Glaser, Paula Scher and David Carson. They’re
lovely pieces, with footage that is designed more than photographed.