Sunday, August 21, 2005


I took a look at Al Gore’s media project, “Current,” this week. I stumbled across it really. I recall seeing the former VP on someone’s late night talk show in the past month or so, touting a revolutionary approach to cable broadcasting. His hype was low key but I think he said the word empowerment and I’m sure I heard him mention Pods.
I’m sure there’s a joke connecting Gore’ somewhat stiff demeanor and the replicating ‘pods,’ from “Invasion of the Body Snatchers.” What comes to mind instead is the ubiquitous iPod media player. The Pods in Mr. Gore’s programming line-up are short viewer contributed videos. They range from documentary to animated satire and are introduced by earnest looking young people, who play the same role that MTV’s VJ’s did in the early Eighties. The hosts constanly encourage viewers to contribute content.
Gore was notably absent from the programming. Instead, Google’s name appeared in both the title of short news briefs and on BrightHouse cable’s online program guide. According a C|Net story, Sergey Brin thought that the material accumulated for the network had enough merit for Google to include it in their test video search service.
Despite some threads which dismiss the whole thing as Liberal crap, the content seems to have some potential. I saw a good piece on guys that cut fish and another on a silkscreen artist who designs clothes. It seemed like there was room for a lot more diversity but only time will tell if that appears.
At the moment Google is in an expansion phase, (when have they not been.) They bought Blogger, and raised the visibility of blogs in their search engine, they also bought Keyhole and created a scary satellite enhancement for their useful map service, now they are the visible front for a new TV outlet and they are putting more stock out for the market.. The money raised, and the heightened visibility could be signs of an upcoming struggle with Microsoft and Yahoo.
Sadly Current TV has not only promise but pretension, which seemed to overshadow it. The short segments should offer viewers a break from CNNs endless stream of breaking news and an alternative to commercial breaks in their favorite show. Currently the slick product glosses over flaws like lack of cohesion and eclectic content. They also lack the Irreverence that MTV had in it’s beginning. Some how they come off Between MTV and CNN, showing stuff that’s too short for Sundance. I’ll tune in again though, if only for short intervals.

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