Against the Current

Does anyone watch Current TV ? Living as a virtual Luddite—having only expanded-basic cable—I don’t get that lofty channel. So I tried the next best thing, checking out some of the show clips on their Web site that I stumbled across thanks to the Google Zeitgeist.

Current is supposed to be a channel dedicated to user-generated content. Anyone can submit video, short clips and commentary. If it rings a bell with viewers, your clip bubbles up to the top of the heap.

I’ve known about Current for a while. Their studio is just down the street from our own office and I’ve heard more than one tale of an Al & Tipper sighting (yes, Al Gore is one of the principal investors in the network). But it wasn’t until Google entered the picture that I found the motivation to investigate.

There’s a Google-branded show on Current that supposedly showcases what people are searching for on the Web. Being a person who holds a professional interest in such matters, I just had to watch. I envisioned Google Zeitgeist in video form.

What was the result of my first foray? Three long minutes dealing with “Punch-a-Celebrity” Web sites, delivered by Kinga Philipps, who found it necessary to insert supposedly hip commentary around otherwise dull content. Aw snap!

At this point my interest level reached dangerously low levels.

Regardless, I thought I’d cut Current some slack. Give’em a second chance. I checked out another archived episode by Ms. Philipps, only to be underwhelmed again. These three minutes, even longer than the first episode, contained an interview with a kind fellow who has a site containing pictures of dogs tied to things. Picture a mutt tethered by his leash to a parking meter.

Any previously held interest had now dissipated.

That’s six plus minutes of my life down the drain without a single statistic to show. Not a word about the type of search buzz these sites are generating. Quirky? Maybe. Entertaining? Hardly. Informative? Not at all.

Third time’s a charm, you say? In steps Conor Knighton, another segment host. And hallelujah! He talks about search results. His search du jour ? The Great Dick Cheney Hunting Disaster.

He launches into the deluge of search results surrounding the shootout, basically variations on “Cheney shoots man.” Then he hits the meaty part of the segment by highlighting odd spinoffs of that search. A surge of interest in Aerosmith’s “Janie’s Got a Gun” (insert goofy morning radio slapstick here) and a stunning resurgence of Bush administration vice presidents from days gone by: Dan Quayle.

Now that’s informative. I don’t really care about things on the Internet that are just plain wacky. I want to know about how the average user’s generic and sometimes vague search-engine query can eventually lead them to my site.

Note to Current TV: I appreciate entertainment. Quirky is fine. But if you’re going to brand a show with the biggest name on the Internet, you’d better deliver some (search) results.

Second note to Current: Oh yeah. Where’s the Mac programming?

I know you’re whole focus is user-created content, but there has to be someone out there talking about our niche segment.

In a recent Macworld Podcast aboard the MacMania Geek Cruise, Leo Laporte—a leading broadcast journalist on tech matters—spoke with our own Jason Snell and questioned whether the execs at the helm of now-defunct TechTV really ‘got it.’ He even talked about their lack of willingness to dole out space for a Mac-specific programming.

See where it got them?

Maybe some of our readers will take up the challenge and right this great injustice. Think you've got what it takes ?

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