September 11, 2009
Present at the Creation, Part Two
There's always been a funny connection between Snarkmarket and Current.
After all, introduction aside, my very first Snarkmarket post inaugurated the "Gore TV" category. More followed. November 2003. March 2004. ("Man, I thought I had put this behind me. But now I'm all excited about it again.") May.
But then what? How did I end up, not too many months later, here in San Francisco, working for what was then called INdTV?
On August 1, 2004, I sent an email to Joel Hyatt, INdTV's CEO. (I found his address on the web. After searching for days.) In the email, I introduced myself—a reporter/producer/blogger in St. Petersburg, Florida, with two years of experience at a non-profit journalism institute—and lobbed in an idea for how this new TV channel could use the web in an interesting way. And, more importantly, I promised (threatened?) to follow up with another idea, and another, and another. Thirty-one total. An August of ideas.
To his everlasting credit, and to my everlasting gratitude, Joel's reply did not say "never email me again, you weird kid." Rather: "OK, let's see what you've got."
Keep in mind that I had about four ideas cooked up when I sent that first message. And then my part of St. Petersburg got evacuated because of a hurricane. And then I drove cross-country, from Florida up to Michigan, then over to California, stopping at the wifi-enabled rest stops along I-80, dispatching ideas, racing to come up with more. It was a pretty crazy month.
The final idea, sent on August 31, was, perhaps, predictable: You should hire me!
And again, this is a point at which Joel could very reasonably have said "you weird kid." Instead, he invited me into the city for lunch.
At Current, I've been, successively, an interactive producer, a blogger, a channel manager, a futurist (note: bad title choice), ad sales adjunct faculty, and the vice president of strategy. I've been here for just a hair under five years.
But finally, there's just too much other cool stuff to do. Today is my last day.
Current is the company, the idea, that brought me to San Francisco, and I have a lot of people to thank for the depth and breadth of my Current experience. But none so centrally as Joel, who took a chance on a 24-year-old who sent a bunch of emails. I mean, guys: This is big. This is what makes lives happen, or not.
Anyway, I'm sure I'll have more reflections to share, but I'll leave it at that for now. Mostly, I wanted to tell the tale of that fall five years ago because it makes the step I'm about to take, in the fall of 2009, seem relatively conservative by comparison. Ha!
Here's the agenda:
First: Spend the next fifty days absolutely jamming on this book. On one level, this is just simple necessity. I sort of set a trap for myself here, didn't I? On another level, I had an epiphany the other day: There is nothing in the entire world I would rather do for the next two months than work my ass off to create something wonderful for the people on this list. Not sure I've ever had quite that level of clarity before. Gotta say: I like it.
Then: Consulting—for Current, for starters. Freelancing, in a few different domains. There's more writing in the works. And some bigger ideas, which I won't try to squeeze into this post. But I won't keep you waiting for too long, I promise. I'm going to need your help!
Update: Ha hahaha. I got a web-monitoring text message this morning saying that robinsloan.com was getting slammed with visitors, and I'm thinking to myself, "Wow, jeez, big news... I guess?" Nope, different reason. Shoulda known!
File under: Gore TV, Media Galaxy, Self-Disclosure
March 2, 2006
Note the "post this on your site" button -- it gives you the embed code right inside the player! It's the first time I've seen that feature. Rod Naber (who sits in front of me) made this thing -- he is some sort of mad genius.
February 14, 2006
August 11, 2005
Joe Gets Podded
Of all the wonderful things Current TV has done for the world, I think the best will be introducing it (the world) to Joe Hanson, a.k.a. Binowhite, a.k.a. B-Whizzle. I found Joe during my hour-long binge in the recently hott Current Studio, where you can preview the pods people have submitted and vote whether they should appear on-air. It's definitely the best part of the site (excellent blog notwithstanding). Go check out my favorite VC2, Binowhite. I can't wait to see what Joe gets into next.
July 31, 2005
May 4, 2004
Gore TV, For Real
Why am I so obsessed with Al Gore's cable TV channel, which is finally a reality?
I think it's because of stuff like this -- and the hope that it's not just, well, quotes for press releases:
"We are launching an exciting television network for young men and women who want to know more about their world and who enjoy real-life stories created with, by and for their own generation," said Gore who, as Chairman of the Board, will devote the lion's share of his time to the venture. "We want to empower this dynamic generation with a network dedicated to them that has integrity and a commitment to excellence. This will not be a political network," Gore emphasized, adding, "These stories will be in a voice that young people recognize and from a point of view they identify as their own."
April 5, 2004
Gah! I Can't Handle This!
First it's on, then it's off, then it's on again, now it's off again (maybe)!
Gore TV, why must you torment me so?
(You know you are a huge, huge dork when the ownership of a digital cable channel becomes a quasi-emotional issue.)
March 31, 2004
It's About Time
Al Gore and his business partner Joel Hyatt have fiiinally sealed the deal on Newsworld, the NYO's Joe Hagan reports.
Newsworld, a digital cable channel, is pretty boring right now. I can corroborate this description:
Currently, Newsworld is a bit like something Bill Murray would flip on in the hotel in Lost in Translation: a two-minute dialogue-free video essay on squirrels, followed by the news about a freak rotating-door accident in a Tokyo shopping mall.
The deal is that the new Newsworld -- which will get a new name -- is going to be a public affairs channel for young people. Gore likes the idea of guerilla news: an army of kids with cheap DV cams, capturing (and editing and uploading and optionally adding a hip-hop soundtrack to) their world.
He was also a big fan of MTVís late-90ís video-diary show, Unfiltered, which inspired him to meet with its creator in 2002 in the hope of producing similar programming himself. In the last year, Mr. Gore began building a rationale for a new television service: In a speech to students at Middle Tennessee State University in November 2003, he spoke of televisionís "quasi-hypnotic influence" on the electorate. "If people are just staring at a little box for four hours a day, it has a big impact on democracy," he said. "We have to choose to rehabilitate our democracy in part by making creative use of these new media and by insisting within the current institutions of our democracy that we open up access to the dominant medium."
Man, I thought I had put this behind me. But now I'm all excited about it again.
December 16, 2003
New York Post says: DILLER RESISTS GORE CHARM, WON'T AID NETWORK. Story reads:
The two got together last week and Gore laid on the charm, trying to convince Diller to lift his veto over the sale of the News World International network from Vivendi Universal Entertainment -- veto power that Diller received with the preferred shares he got when he sold his TV assets to Vivendi.
No luck, though.
I don't really understand why it's so critical that Gore gets Newsworld International. Is it really that difficult to get an entirely new digital channel picked up by cable providers? It seems like if G4 and Fuse can do it, Al Gore ought to be able to. But maybe there's something I'm missing here.
December 8, 2003
Gore Endorses Dean
Bloggers everywhere are agog.
In case you don't know what I'm talking about, Al Gore has apparently decided to endorse Howard Dean tomorrow.
To me, this is unexpected, but not mystifying or nonsensical, by any stretch. Over and over again these past few months, Gore has indicated a desire to reach the exact same demographic that is currently falling all over itself for the good doctor -- the young, tech-savvy, anti-war types that continue to make people stand up and notice Dean's campaign. Gore's and Dean's most prized audiences align almost perfectly; it seems like a perfect fit to me.
Why all the shock?
November 17, 2003
A Deal Delayed
Blast! Gore's plan to buy Newsworld is running behind schedule.
(Yes, I realize no one else is as interested in this as I am.)
Attention, cable TV channels, especially those not yet launched: It's not enough to park a pleasant face in front of a camera and let it blab. The words matter.
I am spurred on to this statement by a recent New York Times article, which I shall now excerpt at ridiculous length.
November 11, 2003
Three Things Gore TV Must Get Right
This post has been an age in the making, so let's get to it. Gore TV: a new cable news channel for young people. I think it has potential. But how to make sure it doesn't suck?
So glad you asked.
I offer three guidelines gleaned from my extensive experience as a young person disappointed again and again by cable news channels.
Read on, Gore & Co. -- get this right.... Read more ....
November 5, 2003
An Aging Audience
Little did I realize what a dramatic distinction Gore & Co. are making by aiming a news channel at young people.
In an Atlanta Journal-Constitution story about last night's Democratic debate on CNN, Caroline Wilbert notes that the median age of CNN's audience is... 61! Furthermore:
CNN is not the only cable network with gray hair. The median age of Fox News' viewers is 60. And MSNBC, despite launching with a slick techie style during the dot-com boom, isn't much different. The average age is 58.
Well, this completely freaks me out. It suddenly seems like the news channels are all operating in a parallel dimension. A dimension... where everyone is old.
Speaking of the Democratic debate: Anderson Cooper is clearly a synthetic newsdroid sent from the future to change the past. Whether it's for good or for ill remains to be seen.
File under: Election 2004, Gore TV, Journalism
November 3, 2003
Present at the Creation
Al Gore wants to start a hip, newsy cable channel. He's got some impressive people on board. Judging from all that I've read, this thing could be wicked cool.
But only... if... done... right.
Let's review our intel to date.... Read more ....