Today we begin open our first New York based Travel Channel Academy bootcamp.
We are now running these in NY, DC and LA. (next week, we’ll go back to LA).
The appetite for this seems pretty limitless, (and at 40 people per class, we are fully scheduled through all of 2008).
But this bespeaks something more than merely an appetite on the part of average people to learn and be taken into the hitherto ‘secret society’ of television makers.
The UGC or User Generated Content movement has been gaining a great deal of traction of late. It is certainly a buzzword in networks and cable stations, as well as local TV. And why not? As more and more people get their hands on better and better quality gear at lower and lower prices, there is bound to be a tidal wave of content created.
But up until now, most broadcasters have been concentrating on the ‘content’, which is understandable, as they have been in the ‘content’ business all their lives.
But as we continue to do this (and Kudos to The Travel Channel for reaching out to these people in such a direct and directed way), we notice a far more interesting, and I think powerful phenomenon emerging:
The “U” in UGC – the Users. The folks who make the content.
We have, until now, been totally focused on the content that they made. This is all well and good, but I think we are missing the big play here.
One does not look at MySpace and critique the writing style of those who contribute. Their writing is the way that they communicate, they it is the fact that they are doing it that makes it so powerful. Even if Rupert Murdoch bought MySpace, he did not do so to fill the pages of The Wall Street Journal with their content – though my guess is that Facebook (valued at $15 billion) is a far more powerful vehicle than is the WSJ.
What we are doing here with Travel Channel is building an online video community. A video MySpace or Facebook. We are certainly feeding video content to the channel, but I think we are doing something much more basic and far more important. We are touching on a new medium – much as newspapers were a new medium 350 years ago.
We are all pioneers in a new realm – the world of communicating and expressing yourself online – not necessarily to ‘the viewers’, but increasingly to ‘each other’.
It’s not broadcasting. And it’s not vlogging.
It is something else.
With its own rules, its own grammar and its own path to take.
We are really just getting started with this, but I think there is something here.
Below, newest members of our new community.