Monday, April 30, 2007


The "10 foot experience." Heard that phrase before? It's what all the big boys (Microsoft, Apple, Sony, etc) want to own...that last remaining 10 feet between your television set and your ass on the couch.

Interestingly, they're almost there - with the release of Vista and the built-in media center functionality (which makes this rev 4, I believe of MCE), Apple's iTV, the Microsoft XBox 360, the Sony Ps3, the Nintendo Wii, or a half a dozen other pieces of equipment - they almost have it. A consumer device for the masses that allows equal time for commercial broadcast television, internet video, video podcasts, gaming, movie rental, etc - all without getting your ass up off the couch except to go make nachos. (I have an excellent recipe for nachos, btw.)

My personal 10-foot-experience of choice is a computer with Microsoft MCE attached to my plasma screen, and XBox 360's elsewhere in the house used as media extenders. A plugin for MCE called TV Tonic, allows me to subscribe - in a disturbingly simple fashion - to video podcasts, Yougle allows me to view Youtube videos through the MCE interface, and on and on.

Now that I can access all of this additional content - and keep in mind this content is all cheaply produced, mostly homegrown, and ragingly experimental - from my couch, I find a strange thing happening: I don't have a lot of time in my life to sit down and watch television - yet, faced with a choice between watching the most recent episode of Lost in all its high-definition, $2M/episode glory...and, well, Ctrl-Alt-Chicken...Lost doesn't always come out ahead.

So, what is Ctrl-Alt-Chicken? One of a few dozen offerings from Revision 3, a video podcast "network" of sorts started by ex TechTV and G4 guys Jay Adelson, Kevin Rose, David Prager, Dan Huard, and Ron Gorodetzk. (The most "famous" faces on Revision 3 are, of course, Kevin Rose and Alex Albrecht, of Digg/Diggnation fame.) Revision 3 offers contents that mostly appeal to the geek contingent (early adopters in internet content delivery) which is, of course, cheaply produced and distributed over video podcast delivery channels....but yet, there is something to these "shows."

Most of the offering on Revision 3 are wildly entertaining - these late-20, early 30-somethings sitting around riffing on popular culture, technology and - in the case of Ctrl-Alt-Chicken - bad cooking. The content seems fresh, alive and unscripted...even the scripted content. One of the better scripted shows is Webdrifter, a video podcast from comedian Martin Sargent with an awesome concept: Sargent gets in a car and travels to the people who put up lunatic-fringe websites. The episode with Alex Chiu, "inventor" of rings that make you immortal, is sure to be a classic. ("Frankly, Alex, I can't see why you want to be immortal. Your apartment is a shitbox.")

It's not just the 20-somethings that have a lock on this new culture of home-grown media, and Revision 3 isn't the only video podcast network out there: Leo Leporte - also of TechTV fame - is the creator of (TWiT stands for's flagship show, This Week in Tech.) Leporte, and his rotating list of cohorts (John C. Dvorak, Patrick Norton, Robert Heron) are - let's be kind here - "old guard" techies, yet the formula is remarkably similar: wildly entertaining roundtable discussions that are addictive and informative. (It should be no small surprise that Revision 3 personalities and personalities routinely appear on each other's shows.)

Again, the content on is mostly aimed at fellow gearheads, but that is slowly changing. (Also, in this era of convergence, iPods, and ubiquitous computing, do the monikers "gearhead" and "geek" even apply anymore? Aren't we all our own IT departments these days?) But the secret of the audio and video podcasts is the same as Revision 3's strategy: wildly entertaining hosts/hostesses in front of the mics and cameras talking about things they truly love.

And the list is growing, MobuzzTV, PlanetTV, CNET Podcast Central, etc. Is this the true face of new media? Independent video and audio producers with fresh content? (And, in many cases, old media producers who "get it" and see the seismic shift occurring before their eyes: NPR, Comedy Central, etc.)

So now, I pause before I select what I watch. Don't get me wrong - the multi-million dollar dramas (Lost, Heroes, etc.) still grab my attention. But they are no longer competing with each other for my eyeballs, they are competing with Diggnation.... transforming the entire video landscape into "long tail" viewing.

And that, Mr. Abrams, may be the biggest monster on your island.

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