We have all been sitting like couch potatoes for years in front of our television sets, passively watching what we were fed into our available brain time ( (c) Le Lay… – French joke).
It was time someone tried to rebel against it. About 3 years, Mihai and a small team of which I was a member set off to start glowria, an online DVD rental company. The goal was to take away that barrier to active and interesting content, and allow anyone to time shift their preferred movies on demand: choose the movies YOU want to see, WHEN you want to see them. The upcoming VOD offer will allow that demand to be further met by delivering content almost immediately.
Then another startup, by our frieds F. Pie and his team, vodeo.tv, decided they wanted to bring all old french TV shows to you, including documentaries. The kind of stuff you like but that you only get to see at 4am in an obscure channel on cable. I myself haven’t yet bought any program from them, because I tend not to have time to watch TV anymore (I cancelled pay-TV from canal+ with lots of pain, and rarely use my glowria account). But something else has happened in the past few months. I’ve become totally addicted to online video shows. Some call them vodcasts, videoblogs, vlogs… whatever. Video content, available online.
I fully understand that my computer screens are not exactly the normal size that you get, and my viewing experience is great. A bit lonely, as the family does not join in, but great. And what do I watch ?
Well new shows produced by people for online people, such as in the Tech field (commandN, diggnation, twit, NerdTV), occasional blah blah (Steve Garfield, Eric Rice, Clint Sharp…), interviews of people – I just love talk shows, I used to watch only that on TV as well – mainly the French guys lately (Loic Le Meur, Thomas Blard…), regular shows (Pierre Alexandre from Wall Street, MobuzzTV, Rocketboom, xolo.tv, etc.) etc.
TVs have had online content for a while, and they fit your purpose for time shifting and content filtering. But not everything is available online, it’s not available around the globe (some guy was ranting about not being able to buy Lost episodes in the Netherlands on Adam Curry’s podast the other day), and is expensive (Alex on diggnation was calculating that if he bough 2 shows at 2$ each every night for one month, it was way more expensive than his cable TV package!). Bandwidth will shortly not be an issue anymore (depending on your definition of shortly, but you can stream decent content at 750kbps easily or even less for smaller formats); mobile devices such as phones, PDAs and pocket-whatever are going all to be data-enabled and video-enabled. So that’s not an issue either.
There’s enough content online that you won’t ever need to turn your TV on again. Don’t know where to go ? try Peter’s mefeedia.com (great stuff aggregated there, and the man is a charm.), or DTV, or.. anywhere basically. And if it’s not there, create it !
The danger here is that a lot of crap is going to be produced, and you find that on a lot of video sharing services. I don’t even go there anymore. Just clips from TV, trailers, etc. Pooxi was warning everyone the other day about the intellectual property of videos you publish. He’s right. And in addition, I’m not (maybe you are) really interested in watching stories about your gold fish, or another joke, in video format. As in everything else, the good content will stand out, or find its niche, and bad content producers will eventually stop doing what they are doing. In any case you can yourself stop watching as well.
But what I’m really excited about, is that a whole new generation of people from many walks of life and interests will discover video as new medium of expression, and will start sharing their insights into their environmennts and theirs lives. You all know that I’ve been working on a new venture for some time. There’s been a lot of wrong predictions out there about what vpod.tv is. The other day, in front of Loic Le Meur’s camera, I gave a hint: vpod is a codename for Video Publishing On Demand. Nothing revolutionnary, nothing earth-shattering and disrupting as my VC friends would like to see. However we’ve only shown a small slice of it so far: just a way to enable people to talk and voice their thoughts. Rebecca McKinnon’s initiative with Global Voices would be similar in spirit (only text and audio AFAIK), although she’s way ahead already with her energy and success. She’s into great content, I’m into technology for great content. Technology today is a barrier and it shouldn’t be. The only thing you care is that the device that you have in your hand can create and/or watch video. Period. Or maybe, that its intrinsic quality is average, good or bad.
As an example, have a look at lebloggenealogie.com. It’s the sister blog of a great genealogy service called geneanet.org (disclaimer: I’m an advisor there). It’s just a collection of tips, tools, pieces of information about the hobby that many of us share: tracking our ancestors. Recently, the company’s GM has been testing the service with us. He went and bought a 16:9 camera just after our first meeting that same afternoon (BTW, Thomas Blard did too!), and started experimenting with footage and with video editing service. And we help him publish it online. What is totally fascinating to me is the result. Check this page: only 2 videos are online, but I know for a fact that many more have been shot. It gives an audience to many professionals and volunteers in genealogical circles, that would never have had the reach that they get in these videos. If you don’t like genealogy or don’t speak french, then bear with me .
But as a genealogical enthusiast, I’m thrilled to watch these “vlogumentaries” (vlog + documentary) brought to me by Christophe. And I will be thrilled when Pierre (another alpha user) starts interviewing for us the behind the scenes at tech companies listed on the NASDAQ. Or when Jean-Michel Billaut (scoop!) starts publishing all his 20–years archive footage from COMDEX shot with old cameras. Or when Versac starts publishing straight-talk interviews with unknown politicians, instead of the usual faces we *always* see on television. Or when you start creating fanstastic content.
Yep, you read it between the lines. The long tail of citizen media. Welcome to video 2.0 !