Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Online Video Revolution: Just Beginning Or Already Over? Will It Be Ruined By Commercialism?

Are we at the beginning or end of the online video revolution?

In a Huffington Post essay, TED Conference curator Chris Anderson argues that Web video is igniting a massive cycle of innovation.

However Savage Minds contributor Adam Fish claims that the pioneering era of Internet video was 2005-2009 -- long behind us.

They both make good points.

Essentially Anderson credits Web video for accelerating the global communication of new ideas, techniques, technologies.

Fish says that the media corporate beasties who have been lurking in the wings while amateurs beta-tested Web video are now about to pounce, wiping out the free-spirited pioneering grit and replacing it with TV-style slickness and canned laugh tracks.

Here's Anderson:

Hidden among all the cute kittens and pirated TV shows, online video is driving astonishing innovation in thousands of different fields ranging from the ultra-niche to the sharing of truly world-changing ideas.

Explosions in innovation have happened in music, photography and animation, to name but three fields. The reason online video is so significant, is that it is now allowing the rest of the world's talents to be shared digitally.

Dig under the surface of today's visual web, and you'll see an explosion of grassroots-driven innovation and experimentation everywhere you look, both trivial and epic.
And here's Fish:

We are entering a new era of professionalism -- gone is the wild Darwinian kingdom of video memes, the meritocracy of the rabble rousers, the open platforms equally prioritizing the talented poor as well as the rich. The upcoming golden age of ‘quality’ professional content will be ruled by Steve Jobs and his ilk at HBO, Pixar, Hulu, LG, and Vizio.

The pioneer age of the free and open culture of internet video is ending... The wild world of amateur video -- its production, promotion, and distribution procedures -- is moving from the realm of prototyping, beta-testing, and experimentation to expert production, algorithmic optimization, and alpha release five years after its debut on YouTube and Current TV.

This professionalization is a historical result of 5 years of industrial development, individual trial and error, and profit-focused talent agencies and creative thinktanks. It is also a product of the historical convergence of the internet and television hardware, as well as the corporate consolidation of content and software around the idea of the app -- a professionally designed hardware/software/content peephole into a small fraction of the internet.

More anthropological however is the historical transformation of the subculture into the culture... The “golden age” to follow this pioneering phase will be as innovative as the golden age of television as we welcome the equivalent of I Love Lucy, Friends, and Lost and along with it the return to spectatorism, canned laughter, and the proliferation of middle class values.


What do you think? Will the "professionalization" of Web video benefit or hinder its pioneering spirit? Videojournalists strive for the highest standards of video production and journalism, but they've also been buoyed by an aura of fierce independence -- the rough-hewn lone-wolf 'backpack VJ' maverick vs. the slick TV news crew with its coiffed anchors and groomed correspondents. Is it any wonder, given the economic state of the news biz, that some of the better in-depth videojournalism projects are increasingly produced by solitary practitioners for non-profits and NGOs?

While you're mulling that over, watch Anderson's own TED talk on this subject (below), and stay with it all the way through. The last two minutes drive home his point with emotional intensity -- and make you wonder if high-quality, high-minded video from independent non-corporate sources isn't here to stay, and even lead the way.

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