This was an profetic project outline from 2001 (or 2007 cant quite tell)

Undercurrents in the Mainstream.

The Trojan Horse Application

A proposal for a world-wide workers co-operative approach to New Media – A Universal TV Channel.

.By Hamish Campbell

Imagine an internet TV channel where anyone can put anything in and take anything out.

Imagine a personalised channel just for you.

We need to 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. That is by 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”. It has an ideological path – we believe in freedom and justice. Our art and craft 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 mainstream, to follow more humane secondary streams. Our advantage lies in our outlook, a more genuine “outsider’s” view of balances.

This project would make real the liberal ideology which 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 radical approach of overthrowing the status quo to create the new.


Individual liberty

Equality of opportunity

A mixed economy


A world approach

A local approach

How this will work with broadband internet TV.

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. An example is the use of a Psion palmtop computer to act as an external brain. It not only provides for the replacement of hand writing, it remembers names, corrects the spelling of official correspondences and acts as a continuing conversation in diary form. The very act of adding entries fixes them in the user’s mind, and facilitates the organisation of overlapping, complex, forget-filled lives. The users do not have to remember the everyday, they carry it in their pockets. This is how the universal TV channel would work.


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 and part time 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, 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 mainstream or counterculture channel.

You choose which to adjust to bring up a new list of content – much like a real-time review engine. The system then “creates” a channel for you [these can be made up of basic templates]

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 – that is 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.

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

Self profiling by active intention and passive consumption.

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 auto-pilot.

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)


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.

Next Steps


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 iwde 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 world view.


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.)


1. We need to write a data base to hold the profiling information, templated channels, 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.


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. The project is one of a viewer/producer workers co-operative.

Funding roots

Pay per view

E-commerce’s commissions


State money (grants/regional funding)

Donations (PBS)

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. 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.

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 project. 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 freemarket) 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.