Notes from Edinburgh TV Unfestival 2007

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On the weekend I went to the TV Unfestival, an “unconference” about TV, which is a sort of Fringe even to the Media Guardian TV Festival.

Although the event was typical of a tech/geek gathering in the unconference format – lots of healthy debate, discussion and networking – there was often a disparity between the ‘open rights’ and open source culture of the tech world and the locked-down, “copyrighted up to the eyeballs” culture of the TV world.

There was also not a great deal of talk about funding and where the money was going to come from to fund the brave new ventures online which TV firms will need to make to capture their audiences which are ebbing away. TV people are used to hearing about commissions, advertising, subscription models. They are not used to – or at least have yet to be convinced – that user generated content and ‘video ad insertions’ into online video clips will replace the millions in cash currently available to them in the traditional networked TV world. And to an extent, one can’t blame them. Its a brave new world we are entering.

Talking to the very few (I suspect they are not into unconferences!) number of real TV producers and the “geeks” at the event I got an unexpected difference in opinion. The TV people often felt they were at the cutting edge of the new world. And although the atmosphere was overall positive, some “Geeks” meanwhile would express frustration to me that the over-riding culture of the tech world was going to have a very hard time communicating what they had to offer to traditional TV.

In other thoughts from the event…….

• We had a presentation from Sclipo.com, a user-generated ‘skills sharing’ site. Users can sell teaching videos ebay-like or revenue comes from ads. Along with the usual ‘how to’ video there is one quite impressive feature where users can pay for lessons from a teacher literally live streamed via webcam, and there is an in-built payment mechanism. What’s the betting that’s going to be used for nefarious purposes fairly shortly? Based in Barcelona, they are looking for staff so if you want a warmer climate and can do flash, php, Web2 style stuff then get on to them.

• A Joost guy (unnamed) told me that they thought building legally ratified stuff – as in not going the ‘open rights/creative commons’ route – is ‘the way forward’ because it means building on stuff which doesn’t get taken down by the lawyers later on.

• The man with the most zeitgeisty name in the Web business “Paul Pod” demo’d a full-blown working site for Tioti which so far is still in closed Beta. They plan to have an API coming out in a month of so, which will show info on shows and TV characters. He also insisted TIOTI is not a ‘recording service in disguise’.

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