A river that needs crossing political and tech blogs - On the political side, there is arrogance and ignorance, on the geek side there is naivety and over- complexity

My videos are on these two youtube channels visionontv 3,832,876 views and undercurrents 22,689,976 views

 

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An idea for internet TV from 2001

This is a old draft from the early ideas stage of visionontv

Short proposal

 

Imagine a TV channel where anyone can put anything in and take anything out, which streemed personalised channel just for you. To achieve this we can use the internet to make jump from current TV to future TV by providing the simulation of a traditional streaming channel personalised to the viewer, while at the same time opening up the interactive possibilities intrinsic to the mediam (and the age).

 

A global TV channel, starting small with the current technology and skills, in stages moving into an open universal global media outlet. The content can be freely added by anyone, from more conventional channels or archives to new community or low-budget specials. Content can consist of local issues on council flower beds to the latest Hollywood blockbusters. The e-comers model will mean that all content whoched will reseve a revenuw.

 

 

Undercurrents in the Mainstream

The Trojan Horse Application

 

A Universal TV Channel

 

A proposal for a world-wide workers co-operative approach to New Media

 

By Hamish Campbell

 

We are moving into a cybernetic age, we rely more and more on computers in our everyday life, the mainstream of this is a dulling social control by faceless corporations. However, many people are attempting to use technology as an extension, a facilitating of human potential. Imagine a TV channel where anyone can put anything in and take anything out. Imagine a personalised channel just for you. To achieve this we can use the internet to make jump from current TV to future TV by providing the simulation of a traditional streaming channel, personalised to the viewer, while opening up the interactive possibilities intrinsic to the internet. That is carry a profile of people's interests and work at stretching that profile, just challenging them enough - to widen their tastes, to give them the opportunity to follow different streams.

 

The project is similar to the interactive book in Neil Stevenson's novel "The diamond age", "A young lady's primer". Which by interactive story telling instills confidence in the readers own wearth and influence. In this, it has an ideological path - the pursuit of freedom and justice. Our art and craft as a TV channel is to make that path visible and accessible to a wider range of people. Firstly to inform, secondly to spark off the interest necessary to leave the bland confurt of the mainstream, to follow more humane secondary streams.

 

The project sets out to make real the liberal ideology that our societies applaud. It is an attempt at "concrete-utopia", the transmission of the best within our society as it stands, rather than the more normal, problematic, radical approach of overthrowing the status quo to create the new.

 

Thus the channel inbody’s the mainstreem liberal ideals of:

  • Individual liberty

  • Equality of opportunity

  • A mixed economy

  • The green, world approach and local approach.

     

     

    How this will work with broadband Internet TV

     

    Profiling

     

    In the mainstream the mantra of who, what, where is not new, though with interactive consumption it is taking on a new importance. Profiling is big on the NET, everyone is after personal information to "personalise" the alienation of blind consumption. Looking into this can of rotting worms can we find anything worth composting to enrich our garden?

     

    Proposal for a self-directed TV channel.

     

    A global TV channel, starting small with the current technology and skills, in stages moving into an open universal global media outlet. The experience for individuals is that each has a channel of there owen, and you can sample others' channels by amalgamating them with your own - you meet someone, and like their outlook... merge their profile into yours. You like a pop band, merge their channel to yours. This will create overlapping virtual community channels.

    In its interactive shape the channel can be made up of tasters, with a list of viewing options, or can be set to play a more traditional no-interactive schedule. Instead of reaching for the TV guide, just look at the options available on your own channel - or any other global mainstream or counterculture channel.

     

    You choose what to whach as any interaction will bring up a new list of content - much like a real-time review engine. The system then "creates" a channel for you [these will be made up of basic templates*]

     

    * The templates will be baced on traditional TV scheduling the differences will lie in the content. An example would be the BBC 1 schedule. News and life styeal for breakfast, daytime soups, B films, early evening???? Local and global, News then mainstream drama and documentaries, music and such. The programs would be a mixture of live streams (news and sport), new productions and seareals mixed with archives. All profiled the majority to your inclananation, with links and a minority of conflicting views. This will be mixed in with a "random" selection of the "best" that others profiles are watching and some deserving editorial "gems".

     

    Your profile will be adjusted in real-time by your choices of program subjects, by your choices of what is in your profile and, finally, you can go into and directly edit your profile.

     

    The content will be freely added by anyone, from more conventional channels or archives to new community or low-budget specials. Content can consist of local issues on council flower beds to the latest Hollywood blockbusters.

     

    The individual or corporation who adds content, fills in a basic profile for the program. When submitted, this is first sent to "reviewers", that is people who have expressed an interest in reviewing content. They then each add to the program's profile and when there has been a large enough consensus the program is dynamically added to the schedule, with the new consensus profile. The reviewing process is open to all. The System is open to content from all over the world.

     

    All the profiling data is dynamic. If you give a program a good rating its whole profile will be merged with your current profile. Trashing a program will reverse this - it will subtract the profile. This process will be elastic in its effect - it will have a moderate immediate effect and a smaller long term effect. Thus if you are a sports addict and for what ever reason you trash three sports programs and chose a comedy program instead, for the rest of that day you will get comedy and "teasers" of other subjects, the next day you will get half comedy and half sport... on the third day you will get the majority of what you watched on the second, and some of any "teasers" you followed. This process works in reverse, with individual viewers' profiles affecting the profile of the programs themselves.

     

    The profiling system will work as a tree, with top levels and side levels branching off. The top levels will be decided by the user's profile, and then dynamically adjusted.

     

    Some profile categories could be:

     

    Fixed: nationality (country/region); language (spoken/subtitles); type (film/documentary/news/sport/commercial, review; subject (searchable key words) etc.

     

    Variable: quality (good - bad), accessibility (easy - difficult), violence (child - adult), erotic (conservative - liberal), ideology (progressive - reactionary) etc.

     

    This approach would be modified for live streams and real-time news features which would work on a system of trust - that is on an registered profile of the organisation - which again will be adjusted by views real-time choices. Self profiling by active intention and passive consumption.

     

    There are also interesting statistical ways of collecting and processing such information, which could be included.

     

     

    User interface

     

    The basic interface idea is simple, a single button that gives you the option of trashing content you are not interested in. Interface options vary in their level of interactivity, encouraging interactive uses rather than leaving the channel on autopilot.

     

    1. Dumb - by trashing programs the user doesn't like and rating those they do.

    2. Basic interaction - by choosing from the cued up list of possible programming that is provided with any user interaction.

    3. "What mood am I in?" Expressed by the web - sliders - the users can express an interest in certain areas by elastically/temporarily changing the sliders on their profile. (dynamically created by their profile, with one or two challenging additions)

    4. Traditional key word searching (with or without the aid of their profile).

    5. Directly changing their profile (this complies with data laws).

     

    Options

     

    1. You can make your own, or organisations' profile public so that other people can watch it and you can watch other's... Undercurrents, football stars, NGO's, Channel 4 etc.

    2. You can "merge" others profiles in to yours, such as an organisation, famous author's or popstars. Which will provide an easy way of getting an interesting personal channel, and seeing the world from different points of view.

    3. You can bookmark TV series and news services, so that they always appear when a new content comes out.

    4. Key words can form part of your profile, such as a city, person or brand.

     

    It is important to realise that any large "outside" change will soon be personalised by your own interactive choices reshaping your profile to represent (and challenge) your point of view. A Universal TV Channel is not about dumming down people, it is about taking away the dull bureaucratic routines needed to choose “quality” and "truth" in our heavily commercialised and consumptive world.

     

    Funding

    Is flexible and from a number of conflicting sources. It is interesting to note that the content providers and viewers can choose which revenue funds their viewing in real-time, and this will also control our revenue flow. In this the project is one of a viewer/producer workers co-operative.

     

    Funding roots

    Advertising

    E-commerce's commissions

    State money (grants/regional funding)

    Sponsorship

    Donations (PBS)

    Pay per view

     

    Advertising is very problematic, but the money has to come from somewhere... we could accept advertising and feed this to people's profiles - for the mainstream this is the goldmine of revenue, and just like goldmines it has the problem of wide spread pollution. The adverts would directly pay to the content providers (video makers) a commission on each viewer with a cut for us as the provider. This is the dream of mad consumptives, though we live in such a world.

     

    Links to commercial sites - both mainstream and counterculture - the balance is decided by people's own profiles. We take the standard Internet commission for referrals and any purchases that these create. It is important to note that adverts are profiled just like programs.

     

    Public service? Government money? If this was possible, we could then pass this onto content providers and take a more respectable running cost commission. A good source of funding.

     

    Donations, the old PBS projects. May work for special interest groups, again we have the opening of taking a small commission in the middle.

     

    It is important that a proportion from each revenue stream is cross subsidised to all viewed work. Thus the mainstream movies advertising would pay for the counterculture response. Creating the liberal (and free market) ideal of "perfect knowledge".

     

  • cut for video producer.

  • cut for redistribution over whole network.

  • small cut for the host server of the video,

  • small cut for channel(us).

  • small cut for channel's production grants.

 

Thus we are not only a voluntary distribution network, we also pay for content, bringing a wider and more creative mix of local and global content.

 

Next Steps

 

Approach

This is the freeing of human potential, the profiling is not to facilitate people wallowing in their own ghettos. Each channel needs to always carry a wide range of views. For example, if someone's profile was largely shaped by sex and sport, the programming would not only be filled by pornography and golfing, but links and teasers for programs on the effect of pornography and the destruction of wildlife by the building of golf courses. In this example, if the viewer followed one of these links, their profile would react and bring up more options - a small, different window opening into a larger worldview.

 

Structure

We need a production, editorial and management team. The net, like any "unmoderated free market place", is filled with dross. An editorial level above the reviewers would add a holistic view to the information flow. Human beings are created by their society - if we do not consciously attempt to shape its flow - we are in continuing danger of polluting and despoiling our commons.

 

C.f.: Gerat Harding, Tragedy of the commons.)

 

Technology

1. We need to write a database to hold the profiling information, the channels templates, and provide and input page for content.

2. To create the user interface and local web TV application.

3. Sign up content deals with current Internet video hosting sites.

4. Work on the financing and management model.

 

Time table

This project is now technically feasible, relatively inexpensive to setup as a technological prototype. Marketing would be by rumour and users word of mouth (viral marketing as it is called)

 

6 months for programming and setup

3 moths testing

3 moths to get up to speed with content and video hosting.

Full launch of mature product in 1 year’s time.

 

Cost

For a minimal budget setup, in the region of £200,000 for the first year. Have office space in Oxford and access to an experienced development team in London.

History of The European Newsreal

Hamish’s history of The European Newsreal

The has been much talk about doing a European wide video newsreal for the last 10 years or so. Undercurrents, which grew out of the UK anti-roads movement was in its latter additions an attempt at covering geographic wider story’s. However it wasn’t till the digital camcorder revolution and the communication revolution of the internet made video documentary work at a grass roots level sustainable.

I was working with undercurrent in Oxford covering demo’s and teaching the actional video activist course at Ruskin collage. The European Newsreal came out of 6 months of funding I wangled, which left me free to …. I had been thinking of doing a European video production/screening network for some time, had raised the issue at a number of European manifestations and alt-gatherings. Had meet many good and committed video makers, B- of CannalB (Berlin) in Genoa had impressed me with her work ethic, Marion from Munich had translated the 9.11 film I had brought back from NY IMC. I visited croater were I meet Iva and Oliver who were making original videos and organising screenings. With such good committed and driven people something should be possible if they could all be connected together and a common spark ignited.

At the time I was supplying short edited news stories for World in Crises a weekly 30 minute report for Freespeach TV in the states. While chatting to Eric by e-mail one day the subject of a European news program came up, FSTV had been running the Indymedia Newsreal for the 6 months at this point. Eric had some development funding which had to be spent before the summer so the European wide news project was pushed into fast gear with the help of Anna Bragga (who was planning a new alt-media magazine) and Paulo we organised the Islip gathering by inviting all the nice people I had meet that summer to Oxford.

The idea was to produces a “Europeanised” version of the American project. Keep it very simple with the minimal of rouls and constraints, build it up slow from the core (and committed) group bring in new people as the project grows. The project was to be firstly very simple with no aimless politicking (the pain of progressive IMC type projects) to consist of a page of structure and a paragraph mission statement. The dynamics of the group and regular face to face meetings would keep the project on the productive path. With this in mind it was decided to make the project affiliated of the IMC rather than a direct IMC project, making its out look much more open to non activist ghetto ideas and techniques. For me it was very important that these simple processes need to be agreed from the very beginning then changed by experiences of producing the half hour video. Being very aware of the problem of all talk and no action from the endless activist dream world of East Oxford.

One of the core ideas for me was that we would use blagabel video CD’s for screening and distribution rather than VHS as this would allow a non-centralised and most importantly robust distribution network. VHS being analogue doesn’t work at all well as a non hieratical distribution medium. Its is difficult and time consuming to copy VHS on a small scale. With latter practical but (blind) desion to use VHS we were committed to uncontrolled DV masters being distributed, unrestrained exploitation of others work being a re-accruing problem and is one of the main sources of paranoia in the activist ghetto that I felt we need to avoid this (or at least mediate it) from the beginning. But with most of the innovations I had in mind they only surfaced latter as people directly experienced the issues. This agen is a damming theme from the ghetto that experiences and innovation is seen as a threaght rahater than encouraged. In the ghetto the is little respect for the hieraceys of knowledge involved in knowledge and craft production, this childish attitude is both a blessing when it challenges the existing power structures and a damnation when it undermines real solid alternatives.

We set up the Islip list as a means of achieving this early consensus so that the gathering itself could be the place were we got to know each other and actually share the practical skills of producing a pilot issue of the project. Very few alt-projects are sustainable, the ones that are sustainable tend to be focused on small and closed cleacks, almost all of the IMC networks embody this. In such projects it is generally a small tightly nit core who do most of the work, surrounded by a shifting periphery.

Islip was a faler at creating such a functional core… it instead instutuanlised a fundamentalist and paranoid muddle which the project is now struggling with. The project dose exist but it suffers from a lack of clarity, dignity and warmth that very much questions its long term sustainability. Perhaps after the meeting in May this might be opened up as the paranoia and megalomania of activism may have died down anufe for a solid, practical and interesting project to grow from the current weed racked ground.

Myself am getting on with a more defined project from the start – European wide video activism traing caravan. Funded and role defined from the beginning.

Hamish Campbell, Oxford 2003

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