Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Web TV’s Infancy

Admit it – will all do it. Yes we do. NO! Not that!

I’m talking about surfing the net. Most of us at some point in our busy lives will eventually just surf.

Maybe you overhear some gossip, and want to look it up, or maybe you see a flyer promising the best price, and want to see if it really is the best price.

Sometimes, those annoying ads that scream at you from the top of the search engines actually make you think, and surf too.

That’s what happened to me a week or so ago. I saw an ad for some new website which allows anyone to become a web TV broadcaster.

The website is BlogTV ---
www.blogtv.com – and the concept it pretty cool. Using nothing more than your webcam, you too can broadcast live on the Internet to millions of people, just surfing the net.

Most television shows involve lavish sets, shot in big studios with hundreds of bright studio lights, expensive broadcast quality cameras and lenses, staffed by professionals from the lonely gaffer (the guy that runs the cables from the cameras to the truck or studio) to the camera operators, all the way up to the directors, producers, and all the other people that make a television show work.

Imagine being able to create your own television show, without all the fuss of a professional production?

Naturally, I watched a few live shows to see what all the hype was about. When you first go into a virtual studio room, you are entering essentially a chat forum. You can register for free, and chat in the chatroom by typing on your keyboard, while the person on their webcam responds.

Those in the chatroom can be promoted to co-host, and if they have a camera, can share in the on-camera spotlight too. A second window video window opens, showing the co-host.

If both the host and the co-host have microphones, you can hear both of them too – though there are still some technical things to work out, as the audio from one person gets fed into the audio from the other person’s sound. This causes an echo effect, which is quite annoying.

All this high-tech broadcasting was very cool, so I registered to participate in the chats, and even possibly host my own show. I’ve worked in television before, both in front of and behind the camera, so I figure my professional experiences would work well on BlogTV.

Sadly, that was the end of the road to cool.

BlogTV turned into what many online communities sadly have become – places where the lonely, the depressed and the frustrated people in our society go to vent their frustrations on the world.

Most of the shows involved hosts shooting from their living rooms, bedrooms, or other household rooms, and most were quite abusive to those watching. If you said anything, even if it was simply “hi” often it was welcomed with some comment about how “gay” your alias was, or you were berated for being intruding on their discussions.

Also, I noticed although it clearly states that you must be 18 or older to broadcast from your webcam, many of the hosts didn’t look like they had passed the decade mark, let alone hit puberty.

Some of the highest rated shows, involved young teenage girls in skimpy outfits, doing nothing but blasting music. And when I say nothing – I mean nothing. There were times when different teenage girls were talking on the phone, while their webcam was broadcasting just that – them on the phone, listening to music.

Sadly, when I tried to host a show, few entered my room. I had on a nice clean white shirt, and had created the topic “Customer Service Horror Stories” as I’m sure we all have had one or more of those. But after 10-minutes of broadcasting, only a couple of guests had entered my video chatroom. I then captured a still shot of a half-naked woman from a porno video, and within minutes, I had almost 40 people.

This speaks volumes about the nature of BlogTV, and sadly of the Internet as a whole. People that go onto BlogTV don’t want quality, they want to see hot babes. They are voyeurs looking for another source to entertain their addiction.

BlogTV has the potential to be something of value in our society – but I don’t think our society is really ready for it.

We as a society have not evolved to the point where intelligent, thoughtful, well-spoken ideas can be broadcast online by just anyone. If those intelligent, thoughtful and well-spoken ideas are broadcast by a bimbo, showing a lot of cleavage and maybe some thigh, they stand a better chance of being received.

Now, I am by no means an ugly person, but I’m also not a high grade model. And even if I had the chiselled chin, was tall dark and handsome, sadly, I still would have faltered in my broadcast on BlogTV. I lack the boobs to make it work.

Most people on BlogTV, just as most people on the online chats and other so-called “social networking sites” are men. And most of these men lack the interest in seeing another man discuss anything, even sports. Most of these men are thinking with their penises and are only looking for one thing – some old fashioned tits and ass.

As many of the hosts on BlogTV are extremely young kids, obviously younger than 18, and probably broadcasting from their bedroom in their parent’s home without mom and dad’s knowledge, most of those men are actually encouraging illegal and immoral behaviour.

There are moderators that “wander” around the various video chatrooms, looking out for inappropriate behaviour. And there is a button which anyone entering these rooms can press, to alert one of these moderators about such things – but it appears few push that button.

Then again, it isn’t always easy to tell when these kids are or are not underage – I asked a few how old they were. They all responded “I’m 18.”

But anyone can say or do anything online. Just like those sad, lonely and depressed men, watching those young girls in barely anything can too.

Though parents need to know what their kids are doing online. I think giving a kid access to a computer is great. But placing that computer in a bedroom, or anywhere where the kid can be by themselves is just asking for trouble.

But that’s another blog on parenting.

As for BlogTV – I think it is a great idea, and they could have some pretty cool shows. If only there was a way to attract people to your show, other than having a pretty, underage face on it.

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