You can’t really talk about Internet TV without making note of the great grand-daddy of video podcasts, Diggnation. Kevin Rose plays straight man to his co-host Alex Albrecht as they review and discuss the most popular stories of the week at the social bookmarking site Digg.com. In short, it’s two guys sitting on a couch, drinking beer, and discussing what they find on the internet.
Whatever Kevin and Alex are doing, it seems to be working. The podcast average about 200,000 downloads a week. Their first episode was released 2005, making it one of the longest continuously running shows on the internet. It has sponsors, and even plays to live audiences from time to time. However, every time I download and watch an episode, I get the feeling that Diggnation is only benefiting from a lack of competition rather than a surplus of quality. The episodes are 45 minutes long, and I’m pretty sure 15 minutes of that is filled with long pauses, poorly edited youtube clips, and Alex reading out the stories rather than just summarizing them. Not only that, the banter is secondary to the stories that they talk about. There aren’t many jokes, and there aren’t many arguments. It’s just Alex getting old-time-gold-prospector excited at finding articles that thousands of other people have already found, read, and voted on, while Kevin just introduces the next article like he was calling out bingo at the old folks home.
Perhaps I’m a little biased. I don’t want to watch two guys surfing Digg.com when I’ve got a computer and a net connection handy. People without the time or inclination to search Digg.com’s vast database of articles will find this show helpful. Still, I can’t help but think Diggnation may hold its position as one of the most popular internet shows out there only because it’s one the first. At this point and time, people who write and make jokes for a living still don’t know how to take advantage of this medium because computers are still considered specialized knowledge. The best and the brightest of entertainment are still tied up in traditional forms. A new generation of actors and writers is coming up who have been handling a mouse since before they could read. When that new crop of talent comes of age and finds that all television has been replaced by sociopathic reality shows, they are going to go to the one medium where they can work on their craft. When that happens, shows like Diggnation will simply fall by the wayside.