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Global Village Idiots


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From The Bloomington Voice
April 13, 1995

Global Village Idiots

By Dave Gallman

J is your bartender, B is your editor, and on April 18 their weekly community access television program "J&B on the ROX" is going to be the first TV show on the Internet. They are adding video clips of their TV show to their home page, the ROX Quarry, and putting the address for it on the World Wide Web. This will enable Internet users to view segments of ROX on their own computer screens. "We are taking what we do into a new medium. It has never been done before - we're breaking into new ground," said Rox co-founder, Bart Everson.

The program, seemingly a real-life version of The Young Ones, offers irreverent social commentary and unorthodox (but potent) mixed drinks. Each episode, shot with a video camera, has a loose premise that provides some inertia for the impromptu antics of the hosts Joe Nickell, Christy Paxson and Everson as well as a cast of their slack generation friends. They pour a few drinks and let the camera roll.

The concept of putting a TV show on the Internet is not new, according to Nickell. "This is the direction that television is going. Sooner or Iater there will be no channels -- just databases of video information. David Letterman and The Simpsons have home pages, but those are only texts or still pictures. Really, those are just multi-media ads. What we are doing is different because we are putting video -- our show -- on the 'Net." The implications for increased exposure of this small independent TV show especially as an Internet first, are exciting. "It gives so many more people the power to access us. More than just Community Access Television stations" Paxson said. "Not just Bloomington or Indy," Nickell added, "but the entire (English-speaking) world."

The feasibility of this venture has been limited in the past because the technology, while capable of transmitting video images over the net, would have been inexorably slow. As technology, particularly modems, has improved, the possibility and convenience of using the 'Net in this way have increased. "Soon people will be able to download information from the 'Net in real time -- as quickty as they can access it," Nickell commented. For the debut, the ROX'ers are putting an entire half-hour episode of their show, entitled "Global Village Idiots," on their home page.

"There will be a sentence,' Nickell explained. "A bunch of Hoosier dumbasses bustin' our way into the information age, plus mixed drinks." Some of the words of the sentence will be icons that people can click on to download a short clip. The information in such a segment will not suffer continuity problems because of the non-linear format of the show. "Free-flowing video lends itself to being broken down into short segments," Everson explained. "The segments may be out of order, but there will be no context -- no knowing which of the sentence icons represent the beginning of the show. It won't matter, though, because the segments will be complete and able to stand on their own." ROX has been a successful community endeavor from its beginning. The show lately has operated on a shoe-string budget. All of the funding for it has come from either the creators or from friends and fans. Though Rox has expanded the range of their programming, they have only just squeaked by. "We survive on the donations of kind people. Each month is a brand new financial crisis; we have been as close as a day away from having to stop production several times. So far donations from the community have arrived exactly when we needed them," Nickell said.

The show has been fortunate recently and J&B and Christy have been able to shoot the last three shows of their regular season. They will be doing more shows during the summer, though a few reruns will be shown on BCAT. "We are not abandoning community access television for the 'Net. The Internet show is just another in a series, not outside the realm of what we normally do. The 'Net is just another resource," Nickell assures.

Intrepid 'Net users can find the program "Global Village Idiots" on April 18 at the ROX Quarry: HTTP://WWW.ROX.COM/QUARRY/.

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