Thursday, July 6
RocketBoom, the evilution of media and exploding narratives
RocketBoom Goes Boom, higres version
For those of you whom haven't heard the wildly popular Rocketboom has broken up. Amanda has left for LA it appears, and Andrew is looking for a new host or hosts.
I must admit I infrequently watched rocketboom (SOO much material). Still I'm a little sad that I will not be able to flip to an episode of rocketboom anytime the thought occurs to me and be rewarded with fresh, interesting and fun news.
Rocketboom was never about watching every episode to me. Rocketboom was a gathering place, an ideological mindspace, an ongoing conversation and my favorite watering hole (figuratively speaking of course) where I knew that I could pop in and see farmiliar faces and hear about the latest and most interesting news in regards to my geek lifestyle and general technological tomfoolery.
Do to the fact that it's been a tremendous two years, that Rocketboom was started on a non-existant budget, that for almost the whole two straight 2 years Rocketboom was a 5 day a week grind (rain or shine) I am not suprised to see the split between Amanda Cogdon and Andrew Baron. I'm rather impressed and in awe of their drive and staying power in fact.
I hope that Andrew, Amanda and their audience will not let the end in anyway overshadow the success Rocketboom has had.
The growth and success of Rocketboom has personally been beyond my wildest dreams with viewership well into the hundreds of thousands a day. (I've heard reports of as many as 350,000 viewers a day, though I can scarcely believe it.)
As as a flagship video blog Rocketboom has been a great first introduction to coutless thousands to the world of video blogging. (Much preffered to horrid alternative introductions such as Youtube.)
It was through Rocketboom Andrew, Amanda and other vloggers were able to break new ground and reach into new markets like set top boxes and the cellular markets. It will be due in large part to Rocketboom's success in pushing of the boundries that I hope all of video blogging will slowly follow into these new markets and platforms.
Rocketboom has been thus far the tip of the spear that has pierced perceptions, expectations, markets and platforms to help break down the walls of old media. When it was started barely 100 vlogs existed. It was a dart thrown at a board back before any of us had any idea how this market would shape up and many would argue we still don't. As such I think Andrew's instinct and aim were incredibly true.
Now there are by my calculations over 10,000 video podcasts / vlogs and almost 200 video sharing sites. We have some concept of where Rocketboom fits into this space, but you must remember that this landscape was largely a blanks hole in cyberspace only two years ago. Almost none of these vlogs or services existed before Rocketboom started and during this time Rocketboom has acted as a beacon, setting an grand example for those to follow both in it's openess (syndicatable and downloadable), it completeness and compatibility (iPod, PSP, bittorent), and its simplicity as a vlog with a single cohesive voice, Amanda.
Without Rocketboom and other independant successes like it vlogging would have long ago succumbed to domain of proprietary systems and walled garden services like Youtube. Rocketbooms importance and all independant vlogs and vloggers importance as examples must not be underestimated. It should be recognized and applauded.
Rocketboom has had its detractors, indeed I never thought nor assumed Amanda and Andrew creation to be perfect. Such notions of what is "worthy" is completely contrary to everything vlogging, podcasting and blogging is about. Andrew and Amanda (despite the her obvious looks and charm) didn't speak up because they were perfect or great, noble, or because they were trying to live up to an expectation created by commercial media. There is no illusion there, just a $10 map of the world, a Tandy computer prop and some humor.. but like all bloggers, podcasters and vloggers they spoke up because it is far far better to participate in the conversation rather than to be a spectator.
The truth is that mass media is now part of the conversation of life itself. To be a spectator of blogging, podcasting, and videobloging is to be a spectator of life, politics and culture itself. And Rochetboom has proven as much.
We speak despite our imperfections because by such a standard noone should or would speak their minds. Participation is the life blood of new media and of course our democracy and as such all our rich media participation shall like the written words of those individuals before us breath new life into this democracy, world debates, and global cultures.
(Forgive the high level political tangent, I blame it on the 4th of July. ;)
It appears the split between Andrew and Amanda happened over the inability to work out the details for collaboration as Amanda moved from to NY to LA to pursue her acting carreer.
As a ground breaker and the vanguard of video blogging I hope Andrew and Rocketboom will recoop with a new host, or better yet new co-hosts and grow to a whole new level. I hope as well Amanda will find success in LA and not forget her vloggy roots but take them with her and let them drive her success in a more traditional media world.
While I will will miss Amanda on Rocketboom I think this is a great opportunity for both. For Amanda this split should give her the opportunity to take her acting carreer to new levels and for Andrew I think this is a chance to take what he's learned from the last two years of Rocketboom and go in a whole great new direction with Rocketboom. I expect exciting new times are a head for both.
While Amanda owns 49% of rocketboom I sincerly hope their split will be amicable and they'll be able to do it nice clean break so they can both move on find continued success. I implore them to find a way to make an agreement on a clean break and set their minds quicky on new opportunities. To not dwell.
Personally I'd like to see Rocketboom continue with TWO part time correspondants whom can either alternate and or co-host the show together. (Five or Six days a week is such a grind.)
Secondly, I'd like to see a Rocketboom extended edition (as the default episode) focusing more on materials from the rocketboom correspondants, growing the correspondant pool, and taking more submissions from the audience, reviewing and sharing more video based clips, and driving more traffic to bloggers and vloggers to encourage participation. It's time for Rocketboom to expand their staff and reach.
Third I'd like to see rocketboom focus on bridging the gap between the new world of media and the old. I always thought that an regular episodic vlog like rocketboom could find a place amongst a progressive show like Current TV, MTV, or G4Tech TV. (G4 Tech TV has in fact moved toward Rocketboom with Video podcasts like Attack of the Show.)
The mechanisms for aggregating bottom up material in a transparent and public way and shapping them into a daily show now exist. They've been perfected by blogs like boingboing and services like Slashdot, digg.com and flickr. All that need be done is to selectively apply some of those principals to video based media and to choose from amongst the bubbling mass of participatory media a final selection or two a day to include in the show.
It is not about "viral media" either. It's about moving beyond the spectacle and finding that which is relevant to the conversations.
The promise, that which Current TV hyped but failed to deliver now exists. It's time for media to get more participatory, more journalistic. It's time to stop looking at the participants as spectators, eyeballs or cutomers and start thinking of them as a community of creators.
I would love to see the hand of the creators in the final product. Not just the hand of Andrew, the host (or hosts!) and the correspondants which is already present.... but an ever increasing roll of the audience.
I'd love to see Rocketboom as well as other vlogs and similar media focus on melting away the age old boundries between creators and the audience and experiment on making them one in the same.
I'd love to see rocketboom encourage viewers to set up their own vlogs and encourage them to make their own matterial for rocketboom and post it to their own vlogs... tagging specific videos and submitting their own feed to a community of Rocketboom "feeder pool" so matterials could be aggregated, viewed by the rocketbooom community and out of the commenting, viewing and sharing of this media a group of editors derive a daily show.
As mentioned these mechanisms already exist and are being improved on every day. In the future, the almighty narrative will not be withing the end episode itself, not just in the continuity from episode to episode... but it is being slowly deconstructed and exploded. The narrative of media is becoming the conversations that goes into the creation of the show itself. The narrative is exploding. The abstraction of episodic media will be offset by the transparency and the depth of the narrative woven into its creation. Instead of becoming superficial and shallow, it will become for its participants more real and valueable than ever because they will have a hand in the dialogue and the creation of it's meaning.
I would hope that whatever Rocketboom does they merely consider this evilution of media in their process. Good luck to Amanda and Andrew! I wish you both the best!
Dislaimer: written pretty much steam of conscious, not proof read or spell checked. Deal with the imperfections and try to enjoy it anyway. :)
Some related audio rocketboom.mp3
Posted by Michael Meiser at Thursday, July 06, 2006