Hop, skip and jump through this collection of resources, opinions and links for the content-scientious.

Wednesday, March 28, 2001

Rant #2
Internet Continues to Confound Hollywood

Musings from the Tech Summit in Aspen, Colorado -- part of the U.S. Comedy Festival where Hollywood re-contemplates the internet and how to exploit it.

Attending a panel discussion entitled "Is the Internet Television?" I had to laugh at the narrow-aperture on the lenses of these Kings of Content expressing their fear and loathing of the slippery new medium that they can't quite get their hands around -- like chasing a greased pig at the county fair. They can't understand it because it is such a different beast. Hollywood still sees the internet as a distribution channel -- which it is. But it is so much more.

They laugh at it because it has no bandwith. It can't deliver. Movies, they scoff, can only be a couple minutes long. (So what? Maybe there's a future in 2-minute movies... actually it is a burgeoning art form taking shape on iMacs and laptops around the globe). The only thing it's good for, they giggle, is porn. But the bigger problem is how Hollywood only understands the all-controlling top down content creation and distribution model. It only understands large volume, big budget, mass appeal projects. Hollywood only understands what it can control, dominate and exploit. Then along comes the internet which turns all that on its head (see Rant #1 weblog entry from 1/29/2001).

But back to the panel discussion on whether the internet is like television... Duh. No! McLuhanites will remember that television is a cool medium... it's passive entertainment. The 60 MHz lightwaves of the television picture wash over us — its soft light flickering across our transfixed faces like a "cool fire" replacing the hearth and fireplace of our ancestors. Television soothes us, passifies us and broadcasts at us. The Internet is a hot medium. It requires work. It requires reading, scanning, making choices, it takes us where we want to go, when we want to go there. We interact with it. It responds to our commands. The bottom line is that we are in control. We are in control of what we view yes... but with the internet we also can choose to be the publisher, the broadcaster, or more appropriately, the narrowcaster. Simply by using email, we become a unicaster! We are actively engaged and suddenly...(gasp!) We are Hollywood! That's what Hollywood can't understand. They are in denial. The unwashed masses can't create content. Not content of quality. Not like they do. And that may be true. But that may be the future.

Best remark from the panel: Nora Ephrom — We don't know what it's going to look like. It's still in the Milton Berle phase of the medium -- we're using it and thinking of it in terms of the last medium. Just as Berle was Vaudeville moved to television, Hollywood is still thinking of the internet as television moved to web browsers.

If HBO ever updates its site (what does that tell us about Hollywood's grasp of the new medium?), the Tech Summit panel discussions will be available online as promised.