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Re: Re: Re: Thinking features bi-medially

Hey Stephen, thanks for responding. You aren't going to be at the ars acustica meeting in London on December 13th and 14th by any chance are you? I'm thinking of going. It is so timely to establish a new portal for the kinds of issues you're highlighting. In this country, the constant stream of BBC and CNN feeds dulls the voices of a whole range of people who should be the most listened to at this time. We are gathering a range of voices (Slavoj Zizek, Ali Mazrui, Alphonso Lingis etc. ) for a range of altnerative readings of '9/11' and outting them into a radio featuer, but they would also serve as the basis of a core of voices that could start to build dissident and alternative information sources. Is this a start. Can we do it?

Your prime minister sounds very Singaporean. I seem to recall that

similar pronouncement from Goh Chok Tong some time back.

I'll email you directly and lets chat some more.


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Replying to:

Thanks Matthew! I hope others will get into this discussion.

Our Prime Minister said in his Newyears speach (2001)to the nation, that he wants to make this little country,Denmark, an "on line society" - one of the formost IT nations in the world.

66% of the population here has access to the Web. Next year it´s predicted that every other Scandinavian has a cellular phone. They are restructuring DR. We´re being Buisness Proces Reengineried, contolers are getting "more for less".

There is really no time (or money) to do much more than "bread and butter" (radio feature)work, which does NOT include "experiments" i bi medality. It would be great, if we could keep sharing eksperiences in this forum (on our own time and

for the pleasure of it!)

There are lots of things we could do TOGETHER. Projects, joint ventures, sharing...

One of the tendencies I see is for "amatures" (ordinary people with webcams, cellular phones and sound recording equipment) to

get into our act, with os (professional storytellers) to help them. Public access. Like what we did here at DR in the late 60ies, when we made the "Tape Workshop" - where folks could come in from the street and do a program with os helping them.

I´d like to make a new (alternative) news agency (portal), devoted to human rights and the environment, with participation of

NGOes and UNICEF...I hope we can learn sharing from the "open source" people. Share ideas, material... expence.

I´d like this to happen "on line".

best wishes,


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Replying to:

Just a few thoughts in response to Stephen. Writing as a professed 'feature maker' 12 years at the ABC and now with little Radio New Zealand. I spent about 18 months in 1999-2000 working with an artist and a designer on a web 'feature' called Sharkfeed

www.abc.net.au/sharkfeed. This was an attempt to bring some of the values of the radio feature to the internet. It was very time consuming and very costly, even by super-indulgent radio standards.

Driving it was this idea that it wasn't sufficient to try and turn a radio feature into a web 'thing'. This is a new medium with its own requirements, and that's how we approached it. We also operated under a few assumptions which were:

1. Our audience were going to be trying to view the site from a 486 IBM computer with a 28K modem and a bad phone line on the other end. ie, it's all very well for broadcasters sitting in big buildings with bandwidth to burn, to fantasize about the possibilities of the web, but that doesn't translate to reality for the majority of people on dial-up connections that go slow every time there's a virus active somewhere. Most studies show that if a page takes more than 10 seconds to load - people will either click off or go back.

2. That the internet is paradoxically a 'content-free zone' in many ways and that the site could afford to have layers, BUT that we shouldn't assume anyone was ever going to get to the bottom of the site. There needed to be some returns for viewers even if they only went 3 or 4 pages into the site.

Like Stephen's approach to the Pearl Jam concert, the notion that the story had to unfold in more than the linear dimension was the first nut to crack. Our solution was to develop overlapping strands which could operate up and down or across. There was also the need to prioritize the information. There were certain things that people needed to know (bare historical context for example) but after that it's all about consumer CHOICE. Don't want to go into this little alcove of 5 pages, then don't. Don't want to activate this sound file?, OK.

The sharkfeed site does some things quite nicely,other not so well.

The thing that you lose most control over on the internet is PACE. One of the greatest assets of radio feature-making, our ability to control temporal space is OUT THE WINDOW on the web. You have to come up with a whole different set of solutions for how to get your audience to pause at certain points while propelling them through over others. Hence things like scrolling applets, 'slide shows' etc.

Then assume that whatever you've planned is going to vary by between 20 seconds to 3 minutes by the time you add all the other bandwidth/technical factors.

One of the things that radio technology still has over the web is a roughly consistent technical standard, but in my experience its still pretty rare to find any two computers that will have set up RealTime or Quicktime or whatever to activate in the same way.

Here's a jolt. Many of the traditional roles that we would have assumed to be undertaken by radio-makers of various kinds 10 years ago are now being done by bright young twenty somethings straight out of media college with digital cameras and a laptop. The notion of bi-media has swept right through organizations like the ABC and had massive fallout industrially, let alone 'creatively'. In the end though with notable exception, what you end up with is text with a few digital images and compressed RealAUDIO or mp3 attached. What is this new form...well it's a bit like son et lumiere. It's at the level of the phonograph with a steel needle really because the gratification levels for this stuff can be pretty slight. Good for breaking news and the soccer results and for posting archival documents and stuff but how to make it all more of an experience?

All I'd humbly add to the discussion is the note that it's like anything - there are some ideas that are well suited to development in this new space of the internet. Just don't think that every program will work in this way. Bi-media can become a

way of doing two things in a shallow way rather than one thing in a comprehensive and satisfying way.

I'm not saying at all that this is what Stephen has suggested, it's just that in this part of the world, the realpolitik of broadcasting resourcing often equates 'bi-media' with getting the same person to do two things instead of the one they used to do.

...and there's the generational thing, but in the end it might come down to the fact that it's bit tricky looking at the internet, (or even listening to it) when you're trying to do the garden, cook the meals or sit in the bathutub for half an hour.

Kia-ora and best wishes

Matthew Leonard

RNZ Features, Aoteraoa.

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Replying to:

This is a "paper"

which i sent to the NFC (Nordic Feature Conference), held last year

in Norway.

I think it gives some food for thought

on "thinking features bi-medially".

Please let me know what you think of the


regards from,

Stephen Schwartz

Re: Re: Thinking features bi-medially


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