Historically, prophets have been too holy to bet. But times have changed. Recently, Wired staff writer Steven Levy put his money where his mouth is after a discussion with Wired co-founder Kevin Kelly on whether live streaming would dominate online video in ten years time. Levy made his prediction official through Long Bets, a website promoting “societally or scientifically important” wagers with a minimum confirmation period of two years. Here he makes his case for why life is more live than ever before.
A.J. Samuels: Live streaming has become commonplace, but a lot of people still like their entertainment with some narrative. Do you think you’re underestimating the importance of scripts and editing in predicting live supremacy?
Steven Levy: Streaming encompasses more than just material geared for a broader public; it’s also as much about customized streams. We’re entering an era where everything we see can be captured and streamed live, whether it’s people holding up their smartphones to stream for friends and family, or something more professional for a wider audience. That said, I also think that we’ll soon have the capabilities of streaming our kids’ soccer games more professionally, with effects and multiple camera angles and all that. Our live editing capabilities will vastly improve and be easier to use—just like with photo editing or the professionalization of amateur recording with new plug-ins. I’m pretty convinced that there won’t be many family events in the future not being livestreamed.
AS: Is this just one more nail in the coffin for network television?
SL: Not necessarily. I think the bulk of television postproduction and movies will remain as is. But live will have more cache, and as that happens, pre-taped stuff will try harder to capture the feeling of live. Over the past few years you’ve seen network TV do a number of live series episodes—30 Rock’s done it, House has done it—and they’ve been hugely popular. People connect with the immediacy of live action, even if it’s simulated. I would also venture to say that it goes for movies and reality TV too. Shooting with handheld cameras might predate streaming, but it’ll also be bolstered by it. The same goes for reality TV. The grammar of live will permeate all forms of video.
AS: Which platforms are at the forefront?
SL: There’s still an enormous infrastructural challenge. Some of the big network providers simply don’t want to give up the bandwidth. That’s probably the biggest obstacle at the moment. But I would say Google has the best foundation with YouTube. There’s also Google+’s Hangouts, which has replaced Google’s traditional video conferencing tools that the company used to get from a third party. Hangouts has become the most important part of Google+ and I believe it’s merging with YouTube. To be honest, this is where I’d expect to watch my daughter’s soccer game in the future when I’m on the road. Other platforms like Justin.tv have been geared towards streaming for a while, but they don’t quite have the name or the following to be dominant players.
AS: I recently checked out a few Justin.tv users’ live streams and was surprised by being interrupted with ads at seemingly random intervals. Imagine missing your daughter’s goal because of a poorly placed VW commercial. Fahrvergnügen kaput. All parties lose.
SL: Streaming is still in its infancy, and continuous observation channels haven’t reached their full potential. Justin.tv was forced to adopt that business model to stay afloat, but randomly placed ads aren’t ideal. I can imagine streamers in the future with the power to block or indicate the right time for a commercial. Like television.
AS: Other than personalized streams, what are you interested in seeing live?
SL: I’d gladly pay five bucks to watch a well-shot concert stream with good sound, and soon, all concerts will be live streamed. I’m sure there are plenty of people wondering when they’ll be able to follow the Boss or Best Coast on tour from their computer. Personally, I’d also like to see more politics, on all levels. Oligarchs controlling bandwidth, like Berlusconi in Italy, is a scary reality. I guess it’s the same in the US, but instead of politicians owning it, private companies pay off regulators. Freeing the spectrum for innovation is the real struggle.
Illustration: Kraftwerk/Emil Schult, Antenne. Courtesy of Sprüth Magers, Berlin London.
Network Awesome is an internet-based TV channel, an effort to filter Youtube for original, strange and rare content, and perhaps the biggest collection of Nuke porn in the world. If you like to zone out to Japanese art-house cinema, indulge your Mario Bava obsession, or just want to check out their daily programming, Network Awesome is just the right place for you.
While TV in general is going through a transitory phase right now, quality content on one side and the lowest possible entertainment on the other end (turn on your TV right now to pretty much any channel for that) there seems to be a demand for guidance. Taking the possibilities of the internet and merging that with a lot of curating power, Network Awesome joins the ranks of fellow curated online entertainment stations like Everything Is Terrible, though the parallels to television become even closer—even to include Youtube-based ‘commercials’ during some programming. This transformation also takes place in the way we use the internet right now: we need filters, something to hold on to, personal aggregation. You can see that on the new design of our very own website, that has turned from a loose stream of content into a daily newspaper, to stand against a vault of chaotic blogs who just try to get out any information as fast as possible and build a selection of quality articles instead. The future is in people (the far future is in cyborgs, but that’s a whole other story).
Since the beginning of 2011, Jason Forrest has been the primary head of Network Awesome. Every day, he collects and dissects a vast amount of different videos into a daily selection of programming. The name Jason Forrest might rings a bell – prior to his adventures as a TV-Boss he was active as DJ Donna Summer and a central figure in the breakcore scene as the head of Cock Rock Disco (home to EB favorite Nero’s Day at Disneyland). You can download all his stuff for free on his soundcloud pages.
How did you start Network Awesome?
Determination. I started Network Awesome because I felt a sort of void open up in my media consumption.Sure, there’s a vast amount of info online, but it’s becoming more difficult to determine what’s good from what’s bad. There’s also a need to find video that’s both interesting and entertaining, and it’s this sort of balance that we try to find with every single show and every day.
Do people need curating? Are they lost if they have no channels?
In many ways Network Awesome is actually a regression back to what many TV Channels lost. It’s a return to a more clear format, and a more dedicated identity. Now, with satellite TV, you just jump from channel to channel watching five minutes here and there, but with Network Awesome we want to inspire you to trust us enough to just turn it on and sit down in front of it.
I’m very interested in the process of curating. When you take websites like reddit for instance, who are community-driven and also have a channel structure, you start to realize that they often dumb things down; it happens very easily and everything turns into some kind of folklore.
Yeah, internet groups seem to thrive on controversy and sensationalism, so content that’s not as glamorous often gets omitted.
What is the Network Awesome Identity, and is it hard to keep that while getting more content and popularity?
We pride ourselves on being a sort of library for interesting people and ideas, and often this lands at the intersection between high culture and trash. There are honestly just so many amazing film, documentary and video collections out there that we haven’t covered. I think it would extremely easy to keep going forever. We have like 5% reruns at the moment, and our number one complaint we hear is that we ‘play too much good stuff’… which is nice to hear actually.
How many people work on Network Awesome?
176 international volunteers. We have people mostly in Europe, the US, and the UK. One of our head video curators is in Buenos Aires.
Is Network Awesome your full time job?
Do you have any legal problems with the kind of syndication you do?
Nope! We’re not hosting or uploading anything. We just collect publicly available content and organize the information into one place. We’ve checked with Youtube and they say we’re legal, and if a video is taken off of Youtube it’s also removed from our site too.
So you are really close with Youtube?
Nooo, we’re a tiny little fly that had a meeting or two with Youtube. Not close at all—yet!
Is there a business model in the making behind that? I understand that you can make money off Youtube by getting a lot of views on a video you upload. Or do you have the general problem of the curator here, that you kind of stand between all that?
In our meetings with Youtube, they have told us repeatedly that we’re 100% legal and that they want us to make money. We’re developing new tools for advertisers that can be a bit more clever than just some thirty second ad. Network Awesome is a profit driven site just like most other TV channels, but we think we’re clever enough to work with advertisers and sponsors as well as provide the best possible media. We don’t see them as mutually exclusive.
Is TV ‘coming back’?
Well, I think broadcast TV is really on the way out. Seems like the lowest common denominator approach leaves everyone with the least interesting content. I think that the ‘on-demand’ needs of the internet have really changed people’s viewing habits enough to ensure that the future of TV is not connected to a static box. But we also sometimes just need to relax and turn something on. That’s where “TV” is as strong as ever. The need for quality entertainment is always in vogue.
I feel like I completely lost that ‘turn something on’ feeling. I mean, even when totally hung over, tired or whatever I always already have some shows lined up that I’ve wanted to watch for a while… is that maybe a certain demographic? I’m 27, and I grew up with the internet, but I also remember a time before broadband connections and a time watching really stupid shit because there where only a certain amount of channels available on TV. Now I have total control over what I watch. What reactions do you get on that from people ?
I guess it depends; in some ways Network Awesome is the ultimate hangover, sick-day, and stoner channel. While we know we have that demographic, we also are fully into the idea that Network Awesome is a place to discover media that you simple had no idea existed. So we hope that different users can enjoy the site in their own way.
You’re also building up a lot of stuff around the site, articles, essays and the like. Do you see Network Awesome as a media company?
Absolutely. We’re also producing original content. We just taped our first original series a few weeks ago, a sort DIY music & variety show called The Network Awesome Show!
I was participating at my friend Rubbish Fairy‘s showcase for that show, but as our readers don’t know what to expect yet, tell me more!
We’re editing it now, but basically we’re making a music & variety show that presents some of Berlin’s most interesting artists. In five days we filmed thirty-two acts from a very broad range of styles and approaches. Taking TV Party (the public access show, not the Black Flag EP – Ed.) as our inspiration, our goal is to make a compelling, well edited and professionally presented show with a gritty sense of authenticity that you don’t normally see on TV. We hope to finish editing in a week or two and then we’ll begin airing the series at the end of September.
What are your next plans for Network Awesome?
More original content, more video/film screenings around the world including a new monthly series in New York City, and a new line of T-shirts that launchs in a week or two.
What is your favorite piece of programming that you’ve shown?
No way I can pull out just one, haha! But a few would be Linea Quigleys Horror Workout, The Films Of Jan Lenica, Rabid Dogs, Vibrations, Yuri Norstein, Live Music Show Aquarius Records, The Stone Tape, Divine Sea Warriors … honestly, the list goes on and on and on…
In the last week or so, everybody on Facebook became totally obsessed with loads of these ten hour loops of … basically everything. Everything from Trololo to cats (obviously), to any and every other stupid meme or song you can think of which has already exhausted its fifteen minutes of fame, got turned into a ten hour loop. While repetition has been a key element in music from the beginning of time and especially in the era of electronic music, we couldn’t tell you the exact reasons behind this new YouTube hype. Maybe these videos are a clever statement against a faster moving world which makes us all desperate for a few moments to slow down. Or maybe it’s just a good way to save you from clicking ‘Replay’ 100 times in a row.
As far as we’re concerned, the whole fad had only one real, central purpose – to have Wolfram carefully sift through thousands (tens of thousands?) of hours of annoying YouTube nonsense and provide us with the the top two champions of the ten-hour-loop phenomenon:
What is love
These looped scenes are taken from the SNL Roxbury Guys sketches, where two brothers dress up and try to pick up girls at a club. In the car (presumably always either on the way to or on their way back from the club), they’re constantly listening to the same Haddaway track and banging their heads. It’s an all-time classic and possibly a reason why Haddaway is featured on Wolfram’s debut album.
Epic sax guy ten hours
Yeah, it’s a ten hour long saxophone loop. See for yourself.
And don’t forget, your next chance to catch Wolfram on stage is at E-Nix Gang Bang this weekend ant Pratersauna and the Electronic Beats Springfestival 2012 Opening in Graz. Be there!
It seems we are all addicted to YouTube, but the site’s frontpage is neither nicely designed nor are the ads or recommendations particularly helpful or entertaining. That’s why there’s a new app called tubalr which is here to help you keep up with YouTube and all of the other online services you’ve probably been enjoying lately like Apple’s iCloud, Google Music and Grooveshark. Tubalr is a beautifully-designed, minimal website by Cody Stewart that will let you search for and listen to music on YouTube without any of the clutter. Tubalr is a simple app that basically makes a playlist out of YouTube videos based on a musician or band you like. Tubalr gives you the option to generate a playlist that contains only music from the artist you choose or the app will recommend music from similar artists. More of this, please. Have a look at tubalr here.
Look what’s hot, when four Azari‘s have some free time to waste. A wide range, from the mighty My Bloody Valentine, to some Italian psychadelica, via John Carpenter and a weird club called Brotherhood Of Eternal Love. Take a break and watch some of Azari & III’s most loved clips below:
1. My Bloody Valentine – We Have All The Time In The World
My Bloody Valentine’s cover of Louis Armstrong.
2. Suspiria – Goblin
The italian band Goblin are pretty culty, and the film-soundtrack work is amazing! For Suspiria, a dark and dreamy movie by italian horror legend Dario Argento, they created a score with a very hallucinagenic feel, which fans of Justice may recognise.
3. The Thing – John Carpenter
John Carpenter’s 1982 horror masterpiece The Thing is one of the very few remakes, that we absolutely love. It is bleak, full of paranoia, gory fx and set against a frozen wasteland backdrop and Ennio Morricone’s very Carpenter-esque score.
4. Nobody Canna Cross It (Di Bus Can Swim)
We don’t even know, why this is so damn funny, but it has us rollin. Watch the first video (at least the first 40 seconds) and then the one below.
5. Masonna – Like A Vagina TV
Masonna’s music is known for its heavily processed vocal extravegences and theatrical live solo performance.
6. The Brotherhood Of Eternal Love
The Brotherhood of Eternal Love and Its Quest to Spread Peace, Love, and Acid to the World. The inside story of the infamous gang of dope-dealing surfers who played a key role in the counterculture of the Sixties.