Friday, September 26, 2014

TWIT: Why I bother

After I wrote my last article about TWIT's latest round of upheavals I found myself pondering why it was that I bothered to pay so much attention to a tiny podcast network.

Others have wondered as well...

Hell, I even wonder at times but I think I have an answer.  So let this article serve as my explanation to anyone that questions my motives. 

Some might call the articles I write about TWIT as nothing more than trolling hit pieces born from some beef I have with Leo Laporte.  
And you would be wrong...  

Trolls only seek to garner attention to themselves at the expense of their 
target.  I don't seek a target, I have a vested interest.  One that may surprise you.

You see, I want TWIT to succeed.

Unlike the Revision 3 and 5 by 5's of the world, TWIT is not just another podcast portal with prerecorded content waiting to be pulled off some virtual bookshelf.  It's a living, breathing entity 24/7 that allows its viewers free access to not only relevant content but a chance to peek behind the curtains of an emerging broadcast medium.

Which is something most podcast aggregators don't do.  There's no life to their offerings, just a jukebox carousel of pre-packaged content. 

TWIT was something different.  It's the lovechild of Leo Laporte and TechTV both of which I was an avid fan.  Yes there were reruns but there was also live programming and interactivity with the hosts not to mention the opportunity to see what magic the Wizard (Laporte) was crafting behind the scenes.

This was the prototype for what Internet broadcasting should be.  Viewer driven, dynamic, interactive and compelling. 

It was the kind of programming that you could leave on all day in the background if you wanted to.  No playlists, no stale overproduced content, no empty headed "spokesmodels" that wouldn't know the difference between a smart cache and a Smart car...

But beginning around the early part of 2012 just after the move to TWIT's new studio, the Brick House, things started to change.  There was an increasing emphasis on even long running shows to be profitable.  

While there's no denying that someone has to pay the bills the content began to suffer as ever more ads crept in and Laporte took a less central role.  With no heir apparent to TWIT, leadership flounders and content frequently takes a back seat to the "business" of TWIT.   All the time never realizing that the focus on ad revenue is killing the soul of the network.

So why do I care? 

Because an opportunity is slipping away due to greed, hubris and indifference.  It's not so much about Laporte, TWIT or even any of the shows so much as the impending failure of an experiment that should otherwise succeed.

TWIT is the prototype for online media in a way that CNET could only dream of being.  It's the only option poised to challenge traditional and new media outlets.  If it fails it's unlikely that we'll see it's kind again and frankly there's no good reason for it.  The network continues to shoot itself in the foot and become less relevant by the day as both talent and content migrate to greener pastures.  The only response, to continue the slow slide into oblivion with denial and delusion. 

TWIT is repeating the history of its ancestor in spite of claims to the contrary.  What began as the offspring of TechTV is dangerously close to meeting the fate of G4. 

I'd rather not write its epitaph.

That's why I care.