Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

An ET-backed TV series

by Sven Triloqvist Tue Jun 12th, 2007 at 05:56:14 AM EST

In Jérôme's diary on think-tanks and our potential influence on European debates, I  outlined an idea that has been running around in my mind. Maybe you'd like to contribute?

I will not add much more here than was in the comments. It is just an idea - a viable idea in my opinion - and I think it is best that interested parties throw in their spanners and encouragement without defining too clearly what the potential structure might be.

This is a fairly new concept in participatory media and there are as yet no ground rules. So have at it....

Forward-moving ideas, great discussion - afew


Here's what I said first in response to In Wales:

I've been thinking about what TV series to propose next. I had a talk with an Yle (state TV) boss at their summer schedule launch a week or so back, and the environment/energy is high up on their menu. I briefly broached an idea that we should specifically show what ordinary consumers can do and why they should do it. I was thinking of the discussions we've had heere covering everything from the domestic stuff like switching to energy saving lighting, not buying plasma screens, heat pumps, up to the context stuff of nuclear waste burial, peak oil, wind farms, wave farms etc etc. We've actually covered quite a lot of ground over the last couple of years and solid ET expertise has been revealed.
The thought that has been running through my mind is decentralized production - in terms of the research, the script, the contacts for people and locations etc. I am not the person to write this, but I do know how to put it all together as a production and affect the audience. My background is documentaries (partly science stuff such as Horizon years ago).

This is just a wild thought at the moment: but what if ET collectively could do the outline and then the script if we get the go ahead? It is real money that could come into ET for whatever purpose the forum decides upon. The basic pitch though (say 8 pages supported by research materials) would have to be on spec.

Such a production would have to be partly focused on Finland and Finnish consumers, but it could also be set-up as a co-production with Scandinavian broadcasters, if not from elsewhere. In that case the predominant language could be English, and I imagine that there would be plenty of international locations and interviews.

Longer series are easier to sell, 28 minute episodes.

I could imagine the following subjects as worthy of an episode each (sorry for the soppy titles):

What is your carbon footprint?
Peak Oil
Nuclear power
Biofuels
Greening your home
Green architecture
Outworking
Mass transit
Trains v planes
Goodbye cars?
Food inc organic v GM
Water - not a drop to drink

I'm sure we could come up with a whole lot more.

Other subjects were added:
Electric vehicles
Alternative energy sources
Chemicals in food production and processing
Population and resources

Please add more...

We also discussed building an interactive element to ensure that a dialogue continues.

As TBG poïnted out - this could be a media outlet for ET that could bypass bureaucracy. It would be bottom-up. Wake up the people, and then you don't have to worry about the tea and cakes circuit of boring EU politics. Bring the mountain to Muhammed.

At this early point, anything is possible. Let's not concern ourselves wth commercial viability for the moment. Let's think how we would perusade that profligate neighbour to join us in making simple lifestyle changes that, multiplied by millions, could Change the Game.

Display:
I think there's more than one show here. There's:

  1. The lifestyle/house and garden show, which would show people getting a green makeover from a roving panel of photogenic and yet also inexplicably entertaining (and/or annoying) microcelebs, with an expert or two on hand to do the science bit.

  2. The Proper Science Show with lots of scientific talking heads and animations and stock footage of trucks rumbling around quarries and sunsets and planes taking off and rather earnest and mildly alarming droney music in the background.

  3. The audience participation show, where we show your videos in front of a studio audience (or not...) and the audience at home gets to vote on how green the contributions are and there's a prize. Or something like that, anyway.

  4. The Travel Show where presenters visit somewhere out of the target country to see exciting! new! initiatives! which can be duplicated on home territory.

You could probably roll three out of the four into a single show. (Do audiences have the attention spans to cope with 28 minutes of Proper Science these days?)

Now, it may seem as if I'm making light of it, but I'm not. I don't think a serious science show will work on its own. You need the inclusive narrative of participation and 'Look! This could be your home too!' to get the message across.

If you get a good mix of reality TV, gameshow, lifestyle, and a bit of hard science, you'll either drive the viewers mad - or win a sack full of awards and make some real change.

Either way, it's not going to be worth anything to anyone (outside of the coffee and croissants circuit) without that viewer identification element.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sun Jun 10th, 2007 at 07:58:41 PM EST
In one way I agree. That is the current TV environment. It has to be entertaining, otherwise the greasy fingers transfer from the pizza to the remote. It is easier to change channels than to change your lifestyle.

But on the other hand, the real money in TV is in innovative formats, not in variants of existing formats. And it is also where change lies. That is why I'd rather leave format out of it for the moment and first settle on what we can do to change things.

Viewer identification!  Of course! Hasn't that always been the power behind successful fiction and fact? Unless you care for the characters or the situation, you wll not care about the outcome. This series has to be about You at home and what you can do, and why you should do it, and the benefits that you or your offspring will reap.

It always has to be personal.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Sun Jun 10th, 2007 at 08:18:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Coming off what ThatBritGuy was saying about a Travel show, it got me thinking about how many of the everyday items that we purchase daily come from far away and have interesting environmental stories associated with them.

Like the whole blow up with Kenyan roses at Tesco in the UK.  Where the relative merits of flying a box of roses 5,000 km from to London, versus hothouse flowers.

Or how the Chicago Tribune did a series that traced the gas being sold at a station in suburban Chicago to its sources ranging from Africa, Venezuela, to West Texas.  

There are many products that you can think of.

So you use that product as a vehicle for the show, it's the star.  You start at the point of purchase, and then you take the viewer back to the source.  Along the way back to the store, you tell the story of the environmental impact.  And you present alternatives that are "greener."  

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg

by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Sun Jun 10th, 2007 at 09:23:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, and onwards in time too.

Buying home electronics and then see the difference in cold hard euros between low electricity consumption and high. And perhaps without buying it at all...

What is the true cost for an 40 inch plasma tv?

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Sun Jun 10th, 2007 at 09:38:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think that's maybe another show.

I'm thinking more in terms of food and raw products.

Like how bad chocolate is for the environment. Or how certain fast food restaurants have been sourcing beef from Brazil, where rain forest is being cut down to expand ranching.

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg

by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Sun Jun 10th, 2007 at 09:54:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hmm. Another possible segment is finding out why people haven't made changes. Not in order to make them ashamed, but to find out, really, what's stopping them? Lack of recycling facilities? They don't see what's so wrong with importing food when people fly halfway across the world every day? No space for a vegetable garden, or the homeowner's association won't let you have one, or people keep stealing your vegetables from your allotment at the community garden? Maybe you can't wash your clothes in cold water because you need to use hot water to get rid of dust mites, so is there anything you can do to compensate, anywhere else you can cut back on energy usage?
by lychee on Sun Jun 10th, 2007 at 11:24:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You've got me thinking about the villages in the UK going carbon-neutral or preparing for when oil runs out ("transition towns"). The second linked article shows what happened in one town when they were holding meetings to see how to provide their own food, etc. Might be an interesting spotlight.

The linked article, about Ashton Hayes going carbon-neutral, brings up a good point. One of their rules was you can't make anyone feel guilty about what they have or haven't done, and that's something we might want to keep in mind. Nothing turns an audience away faster than being scolded.

by lychee on Sun Jun 10th, 2007 at 10:18:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If you want to do anything with the Welsh town, I know all of the people involved  in that. Unfortunately it all happened when I was away at a long standing conference, so even though it was in the same building that I have an office in I didn't get to go or take part.


Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Mon Jun 11th, 2007 at 06:43:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
reading the article, It shows the level of interest that would surround such a project, granted that the area has more than its fair share of old organic hippies, still there were 450 people present, during the day. That in a town whose population is only 3000, and at that point in the year the population of the town itself runs to probably half of that, as the university holidays were on, and so around half of the towns population was off visiting their parents.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Mon Jun 11th, 2007 at 06:58:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I've tried to respond to both of you four times, and each time canceled the reply because I can't get what I want to say properly formed. :/

It sounds like a good idea. Obviously I have no idea what would fly with a Scandinavian or general European audience. In the U.S., you'd have to up the entertainment factor immensely-- I think most people could sit through a half hour of science, but getting them to come back next week is key, and in that you're competing with TV shows full of crime melodrama or intricate conspiracies. You'd need to give them something as attention-holding as "Lost" or "Heroes." You'd also need to convey that what you're talking about isn't a fad.

That being said, I would like to see something like what you proposed out here in the U.S. too, especially something that could show people not only what they can do, but concrete evidence of how what they can do has an effect. In the Rather-Unformed-Idea Department (and here I have to point to A Swedish kind of death's post, which came in as I was writing this-- you beat me to it!): I'm just remembering how, when I started to really make an effort to recycle, I was throwing out noticeably less trash, a lot less, which sounds like a no-brainer, but I think people might have to see what really happens. I'm starting to babble, but I warned you the idea was unformed....

by lychee on Sun Jun 10th, 2007 at 10:00:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
i'd like to see some m-moore style confrontation, candid camera approaches...

this makes good tv, and encourages guerilla journalism.
a good feature would be rewarding people for exposing an ecological travesty that's going on under our (g)noses.

taking a local issue in each country and meeting up around a visible protest about it, videoblogging it and the discussions between us as we scoped out the problem, and how best to approach a resolution...

a 'making of' style deal, with lotsa footage and fun editing later...

as bloggers we are not performers...we might not come across so well on tv...it's a different enough medium to make translation tricky.

establish narrative by picking some up'n'coming EU directive, and filming discussions of how it affects the public, and oh,keep the snark!

i think europeans are very curious about finland, and would love a chance to understand her better..

it's sorta like europe's tibet....iceland would be another interesting assignment!

will watch this baby idea with great interest as it crowns and takes its first breaths...

'light on' sven...as the chinaman said to the human rights investigators.

this blog is growing nicely :)

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun Jun 10th, 2007 at 09:49:40 PM EST
oops, sorry about stoopid racist joke, betraying my deep insecurity about possible sole hyperpower status...

we're all tibetans now...

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun Jun 10th, 2007 at 09:53:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm wary of anything too confrontational, because it's easy to get into us vs them.

Moore does it very well. But I think with something like this it's much more effective to seduce the viewer with the idea that these new ideas are already common wisdom and everyone is doing them - and won't they look and feel silly if they're left out?

The problem with the old Left is that it's always been against something. That works up to a point, but it's not a positive place from which to set out a stand, and I think something more inclusive might work better now.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sun Jun 10th, 2007 at 10:14:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
these new ideas are already common wisdom and everyone is doing them - and won't they look and feel silly if they're left out?

I have to respectfully disagree. That has the potential to be incredibly condescending, which I don't think is the effect you had in mind.

Maybe you meant showing them that "Yes, you can do this; if all these other people have been able to do it, so can you"?

(By the way, I'm really not trying to throw brick walls up at everything you say or randomly disagree for the hell of it. I just disagree with the above tactic. I wonder if it wouldn't be better to say, "Yes, the changes may seem like a lot, and some may seem pointless, but they're really not. Here's what those changes actually result in, here's what the effect is when many people make them, and here's the effect when people do not make them." Or something like that-- look, I'm not good at improv. ;) )

This is going to be one interesting topic. :)

by lychee on Sun Jun 10th, 2007 at 10:32:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The plan is to deliberately co-opt how lifestyle shows work already. I'm not suggesting anything new here as far as presentation goes, just changing the content.

This has the advantage that it's a familiar format and people will already know the rules.

Of course it also assumes a relatively incremental change rather than eco-totality overnight. But I think that's a realistic assumption.

From the lifestyle angle, you don't even talk about the wider background. You take it as read that people will want to minimise carbon footprints, to recycle, and so on.

In Europe that's largely true already, so I think it's a realistic approach here.

(It would be more of a tough sell in the US, of course.)

The point is that metaphorically, if you want to present something as mainstream you have to use a mainstream format with mainstream viewer identification.

The idea that this only matters to old hippies, or that it's worthy but a bit tricky because you have to make an effort - which is what these kinds of programs have tended towards in the past - has to be staked and buried, I think.

I also think it's dangerous to overdo the science. Many people are fantastically ignorant about science, to the point where a 'serious' Nat Geo show I saw recently on YouTube spent five minutes explaining that there's a vacuum inside a light bulb, and it's there to stop the filament burning.

That's the level you need to reach, and I think presenting too much science isn't the way to do it.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sun Jun 10th, 2007 at 11:13:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
OK. I think it may have just been a wording issue that stopped me. As I think more and more about this show, I remember more and more about what my thoughts were before I started buying organic, etc. And I remember very vividly how insulted I was by the attitudes I came across from people wanting me to eat organic foods, wear natural fibers, stop driving, and all. There were no explanations, just admonishments that it was good for me, good for the earth, couldn't I see that or was my brain so riddled with preservatives that I was too sheep-like to understand? They were just so bloody patronizing and holier-than-thou, and none of them could give me a good reason as to why I should buy this worm-ridden, bruised, lump of something they were calling an apple instead of something that looked like an apple and was much cheaper. ("No pesticides." So? I just wash those off. This was of course before I realized that whatever's in the soil can get into the food itself.) So I'm very sensitive about how this might be presented to someone resistant to making these changes. Speaking from personal experience, it is very easy to make someone turn away.  

The general attitude toward all of this-- organics, carbon offsets, solar power, etc.-- is much different nowadays (not to mention the quality of organic food has improved substantially, wow) and is much more positive. The attitudes of those promoting them are much more positive, too, and I'd want to keep heading in that direction. Again, I think it was just the way the other post was worded that caught my attention.

Also, I wasn't intending to steer anything back towards the "old hippie" days. :)

And yes, I agree that Europe and the U.S. would be very different sells....

by lychee on Mon Jun 11th, 2007 at 12:00:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think there's a sub-issue there about challenging notions of what freedom means - which in the right-leaning West's notion seems to mean not allowing anyone to tell you what to do (unless they're paying you) and not having to take any responsibility for the real-world effects of your lifestyle choices.

Which is interesting, but I think it's a bad idea to get into that. People do still bridle and rail against the idea that they might not be totally free to do anything they want, no matter how self-destructive and stupid.

Which is why if you present it as a lifestyle that's already mature - as it were - and get some celeb endorsement to make it look glamorous and fashionable, you can bypass the baggage and create a message that sinks in more easily.

People tend to follow what they see their peers doing. So if the show can make it look like peers are going seriously green, they're far more likely to emulate that than if Minister for Greenneess So and So is telling them it would be a jolly good idea, and they should be ashamed of themselves if they don't.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Jun 11th, 2007 at 04:52:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It wasn't so much that my freedom to buy what I want was being curtailed as that they were treating me like a child. There's got to be respect if you're going to get someone to try to change their lifestyle.

People tend to follow what they see their peers doing. So if the show can make it look like peers are going seriously green, they're far more likely to emulate that than if Minister for Greenneess So and So is telling them it would be a jolly good idea, and they should be ashamed of themselves if they don't.

I'm with you on that.

by lychee on Mon Jun 11th, 2007 at 02:43:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
good points, i think you speak for many people on this one...

having been both sides in this dialogue, i know well what you're talking about ;)

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Mon Jun 11th, 2007 at 02:43:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
i think it'd make a nice contrast to the bread'n'butter stuff.

another approach: the appalling service i'm getting trying to buy 3kw of solar panels...

the 'tecnico' came over a month ago and i still have no preventivo (cost-estimate).

i'd love to go in with a small camera crew and catch the scene as i asked them why, and how come it's so hard to even get through on the phone!

track over to the comune and get them honest as they see a camera rolling...

finnish tv millions are watching!

ok, ok, i confess to totally instrumentalising your idea for my own ends, sorry!

it's just so delicious...ET EXPOSE, the scourge of the vacillating bueaubabbler, they're coming to get ya!

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Mon Jun 11th, 2007 at 02:41:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sven, TBG, MFM, and everyone else posting-- I'm not trying to take over the diary or any of the threads, and I think some of my posts may have seemed like I was. I'm not, really. This idea has just gotten the hamster-running-on-a-wheel that is my brain going, and when that happens, I start throwing out all these what-ifs. If it gets to be too much, just tell me to back off.
by lychee on Sun Jun 10th, 2007 at 10:49:55 PM EST
Throw ahead.

I think a brain-storm is exactly what Sven wants. Otherwise he would have known better then to post here.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Sun Jun 10th, 2007 at 11:05:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thank you for the encouragement. ^_^ Sometimes I just don't realize when I've gone too far.
by lychee on Sun Jun 10th, 2007 at 11:10:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm not seeing any danger of too much here. :)
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sun Jun 10th, 2007 at 11:14:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That a dare? :)
by lychee on Mon Jun 11th, 2007 at 12:01:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
One tired brain is going 5,000 miles an hour in every different direction.

Internet/TV interlace has not, AFAIK, been systematically exploited.  Neither, IMHO, is suitable for in-depth analysis.  That's the purview of print.  I assume the projected series would be more than the standard Infotainment so a (series?) of books or booklets could be spun out to provide the depth.  And provides another revenue stream for the funders.

The YouTube thingie would provide a space for viewers and people outside the core activist group to engage their own creativity.  The quality of these videos would vary but it provides all sorts of nice benefits, as has already been mentioned.  This also is a revenue stream as advertising could be sold and some of the advertising revenue dedicated to paying the high-quality content providers for their video.  Based on traffic and viewer voting.  This offers the chance to jump-start a whole new media environment.

Blogs give a chance for viewers to immediately respond and to discuss the shows.  Eventually the comments could be incorporated into a Wiki for long-term information availability.  Problem: if the shows are successful trolls and paid shills will be drawn to the blog and these need to be weeded-out.  It should be made clear posting on the blog(s) is a privilege not a right.  

It's my understanding film runs about 1 minute a script page.  Is that correct?

My personal preference would be shows showing people successfully dealing with a problem and 'how you can too'.  The environmental shows I've consumed either drive the viewer to drink or are the standard Walt Disney© "Our Friend the Beaver" bullshit.

Each show could - should - have 3 things the viewer can do.  One is something that can be accomplished in 5 minutes or less.  The second is something that requires a wee bit of effort.  The third is something that would take some effort.  But none of these should be effectively worthless or too difficult/time consuming to implement.  With a bit of cleverness each beginner/intermediate/advanced 'tracks' would be cumulative diachronically as well.

Give awards (and broadcast it!) for viewers who achieve some notable gains?

Buy a dump and show (5 min/episode?) a group of people renovating it into a owner-financed and owned co-op housing unit.  Which could be used to illustrate the various things discussed in the episode.

Together each episode would state a problem, show a range of solutions, show how to implement the solution, and show people succesfully turning 'trash' into treasure by implementing the solution.

(Maybe this is how Migeru's idea of ETopia could be financed.)

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Mon Jun 11th, 2007 at 12:10:07 AM EST
Migeru's ETopia should be self-financing by providing goods and services to the outside world. But I have enough trouble figuring out what goods and services I can gainfully provide to the outside world as it is.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jun 11th, 2007 at 04:44:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"Consulting."
by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Mon Jun 11th, 2007 at 05:01:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I keep thinking about it, but I don't have the chutzpah. I need some coaching ;-)

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jun 11th, 2007 at 05:05:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I can provide coaching on consulting business, skills and practice (for a fair amount of money).

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Mon Jun 11th, 2007 at 08:18:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]


"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Mon Jun 11th, 2007 at 08:18:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Make it three.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jun 11th, 2007 at 08:22:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'll coach you for two. That Melanchthon's overpriced.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Jun 12th, 2007 at 05:23:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But the quality to price ratio is awesome.

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Tue Jun 12th, 2007 at 06:24:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]


Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jun 11th, 2007 at 05:10:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think that just being a good human being is the provision of 'goods and services' to the outside world. The gainful part is when others are good human beings in relation to you.

It's the only religion one (or the world) needs...

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Tue Jun 12th, 2007 at 06:30:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
that is an elegant philosophy, distilled to essence...

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue Jun 12th, 2007 at 07:34:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Neither [Internet nor TV], IMHO, is suitable for in-depth analysis.  That's the purview of print.

I think hypertext is superior to print in terms of depth and context. First of all, hyperlinks are better than footnotes in terms of layout, and second of all, a footnote is just a reference to another work, whereas a hyperlink takes you to the actual work.

HTML was invented at CERN, don't forget.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jun 11th, 2007 at 06:38:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Tools (qv an email) are not media solutions.

If you use hypertext (e.g. PDF) as your main medium, you immediately eliminate a big fraction of your audience - and in a situation like this, the fraction that's left will mostly be on your side already anyway.

It makes perfect sense to sacrifice depth in some media in exchange for access to a wider audience. I like Sven's multilayered idea, which pretty much sums it up, I think.

The point is to tailor content and delivery media to the target audiences, not to make the content as dense as possible and hope there's an audience for it.

At this point we're really talking about a state-sponsored propaganda campaign rather than a TV show. That's not a bad thing, but they're slightly different animals and need a slightly different mindset when thinking about how to approach them.

E.g. for a state-sponsored campaign I'd like to see some follow-up effectiveness metrics which prove the value of what's being done. Assuming there's some real change, that fact can be turned into a story in its own right.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Jun 11th, 2007 at 08:24:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, I take back what I said earlier on simple formats, though I still believe that innovative formats are potentially more profitable. There is a massive timelag between concept and broadcast, so the formats you see now are not necessarily going to be around in 24 months.

But let's assume that there is a very large TV audience that might be largely ignorant of the facts and science that make their lifestyles wasteful and unsustainable, and that they will be most unlikely to watch anything that made them uncomfortable or demanded any real effort on their part. To get them to watch the program, it needs to be entertaining, funny and with a celebrity or two in sight. Top Gear meets neighbours from hell mythbusters in the Simple Life or somesuch. But there has to be some edge in it somewhere to inspire a few of those viewers to see that there is a real point and that it is possible to do something about it.

Then there is a web-based interactive level, still entertaining, that allows people to make their own video contributions. A GreenTube.

Allied to this would be a resources site that has the practical information one would need to decide which of many lifestyle changes would best suit them.

A deeper level still  would get into more of an ET type expert forum that looked at all the infrastructure facts and figures. ie the global context.

There are many combinations of different media that could be effective. And many to choose from.

For the TV program, I quite like the idea that one would take an 'average' family (or two) and expose them to things they have never experienced before like a visit to a nuclear reactor, a pig farm, a waste dump, an oil-field, a volcano, a cruise ship, a food processing plant, a low energy apartment block, a sewage farm, a mobile operator, a car assembly plant, a hospital etc etc. There they would be given the tour and then be exposed to fairly simple, but revealing questions that the family has to discuss together before answering.

This is off the top of the head, but kit does have the ingredients of audience identification, 'exotic' visuals, competition and the slipping in of disturbing facts about the enormity of it all ;-)

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Jun 11th, 2007 at 09:40:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
one would take an 'average' family (or two) and expose them to things they have never experienced before like a visit to a nuclear reactor, a pig farm, a waste dump, an oil-field, a volcano, a cruise ship, a food processing plant, a low energy apartment block, a sewage farm, a mobile operator, a car assembly plant, a hospital etc etc. There they would be given the tour and then be exposed to fairly simple, but revealing questions that the family has to discuss together before answering.

Good, good, good. Tell a story with recurrent characters. Do it like reality TV where some theme unites the characters in a... rather than competition, quest or team performance. "Scenarize" it like they do in reality TV, that is, cast characters for their psycho-social profile and the interest to be got from setting them off as foils to one another. Or set families (same psycho-social casting concerns) in a fun competitive game: who learns most, who can give the best explanation of what they have seen and understood. With web-based extensions that can be used illustratively on TV. Not necessarily who's top of the class - a lower-scale family could say things more bluntly but better than an upper-scale one, for example.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Jun 12th, 2007 at 05:39:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, we (colleagues) were talking yesterday night about this in Finland. You could pit the upper-scale SUV against the lower-scale plasma. The upper air-freighted delicacies against the lower obesity-risk fast food. etc. And of course the teens in the family will probably have different view from their parents.

I had a quick word with a senior producer at the state broadcaster (about another project), and mentioned that I was working on something entertaining in this area, with crossmedia attachments, and they got all a-twitter. I didn't point them here though. They'll not be getting anything for free ;-)

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Tue Jun 12th, 2007 at 06:14:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Three hard-boiled eggs at least.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Jun 12th, 2007 at 06:45:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Make it four.

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Tue Jun 12th, 2007 at 08:09:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]


"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Tue Jun 12th, 2007 at 08:11:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I like the reality TV angle - or a reality TV angle, anyway.

Maybe something like:

One part of the show involves visiting sites, as Sven said.

Then there's a more domestic part looking at lifestyles - electricity consumption, rubbish production, travel, and so on - which could be based on lessons learned from the day out.

Select eight families and offer a prize for the most successful green makeover and biggest footprint reduction - and make it something significant, like a top of the line eco-house, rather than cash.

Make it a (non-public) stipulation that they have to live there for at least a year keeping to an equivalent lifestyle to make the follow up possible.

Obviously there not a few details to be worked out there. But something like has some potential, perhaps.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Jun 12th, 2007 at 06:39:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It is getting too close to commercial feasibility, and we never know who is reading ;-)

I set out with the vague aim of seeing what kind of access ET could have to TV, using the decentralized cooperative methods that we have pioneered - even though it has not brought us access - yet.

We discussed a long time ago making ET into a cooperative or LLP, so that any joint efforts that produced commercially viable concepts, proposals, artefacts or innovations could financially benefit the community as a whole. I still think that is a pressing concern - especially with the quality of ideas coming out in this thread.

I passionately believe in Open Source, and the sharing of knowledge, but neither do we want someone to deny ET any benefits, by the potential theft of good ideas in development. Though I am not sure everyone would agree with this. All of us here share our knowledge freely - but I have found to my cost that google can find anything, and I have learned to think first before including details or key words that might come up in searches on topics that might be hot locally.

I had not expected this to be a discussion about commercial viability (as pointed out in the lead in), though that's just my failure to appreciate the ET talents that can be applied in my own professional area.

As I also pointed out in the diary intro, this is an active personal project that remained a rough concept until I posted. Suddenly it has become quite real thanks to all the contributions. This means that if I move ahead with it professionally, there has to be some sort of co-ownership. How could this be managed? And, as co-owners, do you wish to protect your property by removing the most viable parts of it from public eye, or is it more fun to brainstorm?

It's a tricky one ;-)

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Tue Jun 12th, 2007 at 07:32:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
email me (info) if you'd like to know more...

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Tue Jun 12th, 2007 at 07:35:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
that we should push this model to its full extent, and try to continue as much as possible in the open.

At some point, it is simply more practical to continue via email, or message groups or similar closed tools, but the initial open discussion allows to identify those that are motivated to provide content/feedback/input and are invited in the 'in' group. And the insiders come back to the open medium on a regular basis to provide updates and/or get feedback on progrss made, to seek new ideas, validation and/or reality checks, so the project, in a very real sense, still belongs to the wider community.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Jun 12th, 2007 at 07:53:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Quite right. My original interest in a TV series about the environment has been largely fueled by ET in any case, having followed many discussions over the years.  Though it has been a long term interest since I came to Finland and experimented with living in the forest with no running water and an outside WC (not all that pleasant in the winter)

In your own case, Jérôme, I am sure your professional work is informed by discussions here, if only tangentially. So the individual model is one of flow between the two worlds - you bring your expertise to debates here, and you get, at least, something back. However you do not expose your professional projects to this audience for obvious reasons. Except in the more anonymous way of providing a window into what is happening in your professional field generally rather than specifically.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Tue Jun 12th, 2007 at 09:07:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It is getting too close to commercial feasibility, and we never know who is reading

Despite the winky-smiley emoticon, this is down right real.  A friend of mine made of the mistake of talking too much, too loudly, about a TV show idea.  The idea was overheard, stolen, went into production, ran for 5 years, and he didn't get a dime.  My suggestion is a secure website where the discussion can continue.  I don't discuss security issues over public airwaves, as it were, but I'm sure you know someone who could set it up.

As far as dividing the non-existent profits ...

Establishing an LLP cost money but email, in the US, is a legal document.  Any agreement reached via email is thus legally binding -- in the US.  Dunno about the EU.  Blog posts, in the US, seem to be falling under Free Speech and, thus, are not legally binding.  AFAIK, IANAL, YMMV, LS/MFT, & etc.  

As to who gets what, when, where, and all that ... I don't have a clue.  I would like to continue to be involved doing writing, research, and whatever can be done 1/2 of the world away, on spec, but that's up to you (Sven.)  You're the guy who is going to do the major lifting to get the project off the ground and then run the project.  You know what you're doing.  You know what's the standard payouts ... so why worry.  And, getting real for a minute, what can I do from New Mexico anyway?  Sue to repossess your sauna?  ;-)  

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Tue Jun 12th, 2007 at 11:18:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In Sweden a fax is a legal document, but a digital file is not. How weird is that?  In Finland a witnessed spoken conversation is legally binding. I'm not sure about emails.

Your anecdotal evidence is exactly what I fear, and so for the moment I have no desire to discuss further precise content publicly. The ideas expressed here so far have been very useful - and to that extent the concept or format belongs to ET, with me as one of the members. But in the final analysis I shall have to do the pitch based on market conditions in Finland and Scandinavia. That is knowledge that is  exclusive to me and I doubt if anyone here can help.

However formats are very valuable. There are literally millions to be made from the international sale and royalty income from formats - if you come up with something that is branded, locally customizable and designed for today's independent production system. 'Who wants to be a millionaire?' is/was not groundbreaking in basic content. It's a quiz show with money prizes. Nothing special - more or less. What made it a valuable franchise was the exact rules of the competition, the forum stage setting, the music, the name of the show, the potentially enormous prize (but a simple statistically controllable calculation actually) and the graphic display software. What was so valuable was execution, rather than fundamentals.

And what makes franchises or formats also so valuable is that broadcasters are making sure bets on tried and tested products.

We have discussed many times having a group workspace at ET. But Scoop is not the sort of software that makes this easy. I have posted links to many alternative, but commercial software applications that are designed for this very purpose, as you know (ATinNM). At some point this will be needed. The same privacy rights that are granted to FPs are also needed for other ad hoc groupings.

As for my sauna, you are always welcome to visit it OR take it away. It doesn't come with a manual. All you'd get would be a bunch of cheap wood, 15 kilos of vulcanite and a cheap metal box with electric elements inside. What you wouldn't get is the experience ;-)

BTW interesting anecdote: I'm doing a branding thing for a sauna manufacturer. The stones are actually the core of the sauna. Some distributor thought he was being smart and bought a huge job lot of stones from China that were way cheaper than vulcanite. Huge number of complaints. Turns out they were ex-railway ballast and so deeply impregnated with the effluent from trains that heat and water released fumes that completely destroyed the zen experience.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Tue Jun 12th, 2007 at 04:26:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This is no more than a minor PN on a side issue, but front-pagers don't have any private space in Scoop, at least not in this version. Our private space is called email.

I did, however, initiate the use of a Never Display diary  as a rough bulletin board for practical notes like "out all day you guys do it". Since it's Never Display, you can only use the text editing box. It's a kind of hole under the Scoop stairs, but it can be useful.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Jun 13th, 2007 at 02:29:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
front-pagers don't have any private space in Scoop, at least not in this version

Not in this version, or not as currently configured?

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jun 13th, 2007 at 02:37:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The config used here.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Jun 13th, 2007 at 03:00:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
We have discussed many times having a group workspace at ET. But Scoop is not the sort of software that makes this easy. I have posted links to many alternative, but commercial software applications that are designed for this very purpose, as you know (ATinNM). At some point this will be needed. The same privacy rights that are granted to FPs are also needed for other ad hoc groupings.

There are industry-standard noncommercial open-source platforms available. Usually what is expensive is the consulting from the software developers (or others) about how to make the generic platform do what you need.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jun 13th, 2007 at 02:36:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, I remember now that you raised this earlier as we were talking about Scoop. And I have looked a some of them (the commercial ones) and most of them have the ability for ad hoc workgroups to be set up which then have various permission levels attached to them (from read only upwards) Admin always has access, but the workgroup can decide upon access for all others.

The more important capability that they offer is a wider range of communication tools within the group such as IM, master documents etc. that make collaborative work much easier.

To give ET real collaborative power the 3 key issues are:

  • Cooperative ownership of both site and 'innovations'
  • Privacy when needed
  • Better collaborative group tools


You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Wed Jun 13th, 2007 at 02:52:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hello again, from the devious predatory world of TV landers ;-)

In my experience, YES you do need to be taking care of your ideas now, and protecting them.

Please.

Get somewhere secure set up. Nowish to yesterday would be a good time frame.

I mean you could discuss it on here, but only if you did it via some sort of cipher, that only interested individuals had the key for....

Or is that a little to Da Vinci Code for round these parts?

Anyway, I've got a meeting with a subliminal advertising executive. It'll only take a second.

by Welshhillhermit on Tue Jun 12th, 2007 at 12:11:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As long as energy oriented, certainly should address travel and travel impact on global warming. (What does it mean to travel green?)

Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart. NOW!!!
by a siegel (siegeadATgmailIGNORETHISdotPLEASEcom) on Mon Jun 11th, 2007 at 01:52:09 AM EST
With a connection to the EBU (European Broadcasting Union), it would be possible to minimise the flying of TV crews around Europe to do talking heads.

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Jun 11th, 2007 at 05:40:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'd turn that into a major feature - make a point of doing the interviews by webcam or teleconf.

You'll lose some visual quality, but you'll make the point that there's a practical alternative.

Any high profile campaign has the potential for a backlash, and the last thing you want is a Murdoch paper printing the fact that everyone involved has been jetting around the planet or driving to interviews in a macho media FUV.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Jun 11th, 2007 at 08:28:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yep. Get on your bike would be more like it.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Jun 12th, 2007 at 01:58:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This from DeAnander in one of her indispensable posts over a year ago:
if I were a multigazillionaire I would put together a line up of tv shows as follows:
  • "Green My House", a DIY and major remodel show featuring really neat, reasonably sized "green homes" inhabited by happy people who are saving money.  lots of how-to and lifestyle chitchat.
  • "Survivor:  Earth", a competition show where a limited cast of people tries to get their global footprint down to 1 terron and the audience votes them out if they are not trying hard enough or thinking of all the possible options.
  • "What Car?" a show about people who live without cars, discussing what tradeoffs they made, why they made this choice, how much money they save, where they live and how local policies make it easier or harder, etc.
  • "Kewl Green" a show featuring the kewlest green technology around the world, particularly showcasing competition between nation states to make the kewlest lighest cheapest greenest stuff
  • "Back Story" a show which in each episode takes one familiar product and traces its entire back story and carbon costs from shop shelf to raw materials and forward to disposal, showing true energy costs.
  • "Traditional Green" an eye-candy travelogue showing how traditional architecture and lifeways worldwide are intelligently adapted to various climates, soil conditions, etc. and how this traditional inventiveness can be applied to materials and applications in other contexts such as western projects.
  • "climatewatch" a show featuring each episode a Bad and a Good news story about some climate or biosphere issue.
  • "Going Green" a show featuring enjoyable travelogue to attractive places without car or airplane use -- by bus, rail, bike, ferry, steamboat, etc.
  • "Real Food" a cooking show about making delicious meals from local/sustainably grown ingredients, each episode filmed in a different region or county.
sure, it's propaganda.  so is 100 percent of what's on TV today.  let's fight back :-)
Add it to the mix. Even better, hire her as a consultant.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jun 11th, 2007 at 04:40:19 AM EST
Wow - how did  miss that!

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Jun 11th, 2007 at 05:28:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't know, but even though I remembered the comment I had to 1) serendipitously come across it in one of my searches; 2) go through several unsuccessful tries to actually find it after I saw the discussion that motivated this diary.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jun 11th, 2007 at 05:32:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"What car" is an awesome and workable idea.

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Mon Jun 11th, 2007 at 01:31:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A few notes on the comments so far:

I agree. It is really hard to change the old and young minds that need to be changed, by lecturing. People just switch the TV channel. I agree the science has to be kept simple or dramatically presented such that the complexity is worthwhile.

I like the idea of tracking products by MFM, especially when talking about food.

The series could certainly be part of a multiplatform package that might include story sharing via a video aggregator, downloadable pdfs, mobile clips, books, a web community, if not an own digital channel (Available right now in Finland for 20K € a year dry rent)

I also know that the broadcaster I'm working with understands this multimedia approach and that this aspect would increase the value of the project for them.

Such an approach also makes possible the layering of complexity. These layers could mean a TV program that is more fun and easy facts, going deeper down thru different media to reach another kind of complexity that might be politico-academic. Members of the audience can thus interface with the 'subject' at the level they feel comfortable with. But if you want confrontational, it could be part of the media package, just not in people's faces.

Common wisdom: there was an interesting interview with Sir Mick Jagger in which he was aware of the terrible carbon footprint that their current tour was leaving behind. (Though he didn't quite say what he was going to do about it, except throw money at it). But it is so, as InWales pointed out, that awareness is growing all the time, and that assuming a late 2008 broadcast at the very earliest (possibly 2009), this series might see the light of day in a rather different context. It is even possible that people might be demanding action when their beloved TVs cannot be supplied 24/7 with electricity, their cars become more of a luxury due to pump prices, coffee has to be made from chicory, and walnuts disappear because all the bloody honey bees have died off.

For ATM: the linear 1 minute a page metric only works with feature dialogue. This kind of series might  possibly require a more multidimensional wiki approach, rather than a linear script. The 'scripts' for a show like Big Brother are barely two pages of autoprompt for the presenters. Everything else is logistics and technology.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Jun 11th, 2007 at 05:27:38 AM EST
there was an interesting interview with Sir Mick Jagger in which he was aware of the terrible carbon footprint that their current tour was leaving behind. (Though he didn't quite say what he was going to do about it, except throw money at it)

A hard rock band should love to be leaving a trail of death and destruction behind them.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jun 11th, 2007 at 05:30:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
just cause the stones and many others took the left hand path does not begin to make such a statement true...

rock is perhaps the most pervasive language ever invented, and its purview is still tiny, compared to its potential as uniter and embracer of genres, oh, and people too!

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Mon Jun 11th, 2007 at 02:34:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
An additional point on the minute-a-page thing.  This is not your normal page of single spaced 11-point text like you would find in a magazine.  The industry standard format for such scripts calls for very wide margins and plenty of white space (so people can make notes).  You can't talk and be understood as fast as someone can read.  
by NHlib on Tue Jun 12th, 2007 at 11:01:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I was looking for a diary you did perhaps 6 months ago when we were trying to get some action plans together. I recall it made some excellent points. Now I can't find it.

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Jun 11th, 2007 at 05:34:46 AM EST
I suspect you mean Do It Yourself Energy which was based on your own initiative and my attempt remains sorrily lacking in scope. I am, if you'd believe, thinking of a re-boot, which is slightly more Africa orientated and more personalised.

Is this the diary you meant?

by Nomad on Mon Jun 11th, 2007 at 05:50:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, thanks!

I also have to check the wiki - there's so much we have already discussed in detail, and this tired old brain can't remember it all ;-)

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Jun 11th, 2007 at 05:59:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Jun 11th, 2007 at 08:41:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Could you integrate the power on YouTube as well? This could fit in a Going Green: DIY section. Start with a self-made movie by one of your own team, and ask the audience if they could show what they've done on the same subject. A next episode could show a selection of what's being posted at YouTube.

It's about sharing individual inventiveness without going into patent wars.

You've really done it this time: you pushed my mind into an area where it hasn't tread before.

by Nomad on Mon Jun 11th, 2007 at 05:42:43 AM EST
It doesn't have to use Youtube. It would be possible to host an own video aggregator that could even accept much higher resolution videos.

But there would likely be a long timelag between the  provocation and the replies. Thus I see the video contributions as part of the whole package, but a little lower in the iceberg.

The business model, as currently envisaged, requires mainstream broadcast to get the budget to do these things.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Jun 11th, 2007 at 05:57:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
How about movies going green? How about the carbon footprint of the very series we're talking about...?

I think it was you who reported this but movies such as Syriana (and also, "Good night and Good luck") were said to be made carbon neutral. How did they do that? Was the operation mindful of conservation or was it just crunching the CO2 numbers when it was done and planting so many trees in response?

The above mentioned pop-concerts would be similar. Also ask for an interview with Lordi while you're at it... ;)

by Nomad on Mon Jun 11th, 2007 at 06:04:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This occurred to me also. It is possible to measure energy consumption at all stages of TV production in pure useage terms such as how much electricity the editing suite uses etc. It would be more tricky to measure the lifecycle cost of a Japanese HD videocamera, for instance. And how do you measure the offset that the programs might generate in the viewers? I mean, if the programs cause viewers to make eg energy savings or not buy that 40" plasma screen, could that be seen as offsetting the carbon cost of making the progams?

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Jun 11th, 2007 at 06:21:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Electricity is the best start, I guess. If you want to pursue this, I think the first question is to determine the size of the slices that make up the carbon pie. My initial gut-feeling would say, in order of impact, electricity, transportation, catering, equipment. But what do I know of the tv world...

Offsetting carbon cost by viewers is the goal shouldn't it? If the program just sticks to being carbon neutral within its own scope, the rest is bonus.

by Nomad on Mon Jun 11th, 2007 at 08:18:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And it would be quite fun to put Lordi on a huge municipal waste dump - toxic or not ;-)


You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Jun 11th, 2007 at 06:22:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/6731659.stm

Peter Kendall, president of the NFU, said most people were "blinkered by the bright dazzling lights of their supermarket".

The Linking Environment And Farming (LEAF) organisation found 22% of 1,073 adults questioned did not know bacon and sausages originate from farms.

People who work in the food and farming industry say the survey confirms what, anecdotally, they have been hearing for years - that people are becoming disconnected from the food they eat and where it comes from.


You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Jun 11th, 2007 at 06:28:42 AM EST
The Linking Environment And Farming (LEAF) organisation found 22% of 1,073 adults questioned did not know bacon and sausages originate from farms.

Which means they probably wouldn't mind finding out that they're being fed synthetic stuff. Soylent Green!

In fact, many urbanites are disgusted by even hearing how "traditional" foods are made.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jun 11th, 2007 at 06:35:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That reminds me of what I once heard on an open air market in Provence years ago. It took place when there was a big debate about the European Commission wanting to forbide the production of cheese made from raw milk. A man selling chickens and eggs was shouting to the customers : "Buy my eggs now! When people in Brussels will know out of where they come, they will prohibit them!"


"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Mon Jun 11th, 2007 at 08:34:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm sorry, 47% of people don't know porridge comes from a farm? I suspect that 47% of people resent being asked stupid questions might be a more accurate interpretation of the results.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Jun 11th, 2007 at 06:47:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
50% of people have an IQ below 100, too.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jun 11th, 2007 at 06:48:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's easy to go throwing statistics like that about. Have you got proof?
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Jun 12th, 2007 at 01:56:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's true by definition.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jun 13th, 2007 at 02:38:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This deadpan stuff is too easy. I'll have to go back to Afew Snark Technology™ ;)
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Jun 13th, 2007 at 03:03:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I make an easy target.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jun 13th, 2007 at 07:47:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Colman, I'm worried that you aren't getting out enough ;-)

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Jun 11th, 2007 at 08:50:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Why not make something like the series where a couple of designers take over the house of an average family and restyle it completely?

It could be applied to energy conservation: an interior designer and an energy saving specialist rethink the whole house/apartment for a limited amount of investment and measure the energy consumed before and after. People could candidate for it and it could be sponsored by insulation/energy saving equipments industries.
Other applications:

  • food : a chef (Sven?) and a nutritionist cook for a week for a family...
  • transportation
  • ...


"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Mon Jun 11th, 2007 at 08:45:28 AM EST
"How to make money from being green"

(via the Economist)

All these items on the left side are those that actually save you money as you do them. You'll note that each of those identified are on the individual users' side.

You could have a series which would show how much money you can actually make in a year or 5 years by moving to the new practices.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Jun 11th, 2007 at 10:11:16 AM EST
All these items on the left side are those that actually save you money as you do them compared with switching to nuclear power.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jun 11th, 2007 at 10:14:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
this is in absolute terms. i.e. it would cost zero to save carbon emissions by switching to nuclear (instead of the existing).

What is strange here is not so much that nuclear is not cheaper than the current production capacity, it is that it would do so little to solve the problem (as shown by the width of that particular bar, which reflects Gigatons of carbon saved).

Note that one item is missing (which would also be pure profit) - eliminating coal-production subsidies in Germany. This is Vattenfall, after all.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Jun 11th, 2007 at 10:45:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There's a 'switch from coal to gas' element. What's so great about the chart is that it simultaneously shows the size of the potential reduction and the abatement costs.

By the way, Migeru's statement is also true. Pointless, but true.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Jun 11th, 2007 at 03:03:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The fact that nuclear cost the same as the currently installed capacity has to be a coincidence.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jun 11th, 2007 at 04:04:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Excellent information, and the article too. Maybe I could try Vattenfall as a sponsor ;-)

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Jun 11th, 2007 at 10:40:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I could see a show where you follow different people on different days.  They start out with a zero balance, and then one of them drives to work, so his balance climbs a lot.

the other bicycles to work, so the balance doesn't increase.

etc, and carry the tallies from week to week.

then one of them buys a plasma screen, another low energy light bulbs, and their totals adjust once again.

this way, you get the energy related info with sort of a reality show flavour.  

by zoe on Mon Jun 11th, 2007 at 01:12:47 PM EST
Great. One of the visuals that are fairly easy and cheap to do these days is animation graphics. Putting it on screen while watching people do different activities can make for a lively look to the program.

The other aspect I am interested in to bring the point home is the cumulative effect of millions of people doing the same time. Electricity utilities need to track what might be happening in thousand of homes simultaneously because it causes spikes in demand

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Jun 11th, 2007 at 01:45:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
you can get little babies from different families as competitors as well.

and during the program, you can use different features to take a break from the subject and use, for example, vegetarian recipes, or green vacations, to change the mood before getting back to the subject at hand.  

by zoe on Mon Jun 11th, 2007 at 01:49:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, and a shocking exposé of the babies' Pampers that form a nasty part of all landfill.

Cost
Home laundered nappies could save parents £500 on the cost of keeping a baby in nappies. You can kit out your baby in real nappies on the high street for under £70. The same amount of money will only buy ten to twelve weeks of disposables. Even taking into account the total cost of laundering nappies at home (about £50 a year) the savings are still considerable.

...from the Women's Environmental Network

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Jun 11th, 2007 at 02:26:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
yes, good one Sven
by zoe on Mon Jun 11th, 2007 at 02:35:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As a long time lurker here (a friend of a regular contributor) and owner of a British based independent TV production company with funds available to invest in interesting new ideas, can I just chip in and say how pleased I am to see that you're at last considering your potential - as a group - to take your ideas, humour and outlook and present it to a broader audience.

I personally think that there would - in Britain at least - be some potential in pitching these ideas towards the business community, where these sorts of ideas are increasingly becoming good business sense.

But, the delivery of these ideas needs some shape, consistency, regularity and access without a bill from a consultant for £Toomuch.

Without wanting to sound to evangelical, I think your time is coming, but you're really going to need to pitch it well, and its going to have to be backed by someone with the faith to park some money behind the idea of not being able to go anywhere near the editorial content of his/her spend or get any money back in anything but the long term.

The way I see it, you all need to be left to grow this concept on your own, free of the preconceptions of TV landers like me.

That, for this producer at least, is a deeply tricky idea.

I wish you all luck with this. And I'll keep an interested eye on what you're all doing. If you've ever got that nice, shiny, non-producer winding pitch ready then TBG knows where I am.

Till then, well, I'll go back to making bad jokes about worse politicians.  

by Welshhillhermit on Mon Jun 11th, 2007 at 03:15:04 PM EST
Thanks for your comment. You may know that we occasionally express frustration here that the good work done by this transdisciplinary bunch of 'experts' fails to get access and thus make a difference.

But if you can't reach the politicians, the technocrats or the Eurocrats, there's television and there's all the people out there in sofaland. The tricky part, as you point out, is how much noise one must accept in the message, and at what point one becomes part of the problem instead.

As TBG, myself and others have been discussing over 24 hours, the answer might lie in a multilayered approach, using a combination of different media that appeal to different levels of audience interest and knowledge. However a system needs to be designed that would cause some audience flow between these media.

I certainly see a future for decentralising the production of content, and I believe communities such as ET can play a part. We are only just getting started ;-)

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Jun 11th, 2007 at 03:44:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]

it's going to have to be backed by someone with the faith to park some money behind the idea of not being able to go anywhere near the editorial content of his/her spend or get any money back in anything but the long term.

What kind of money are we talking about here? 100,000 euros/pounds?, 1 million? More?

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Jun 12th, 2007 at 07:01:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I know how to get commercial-grade documentaries made for $1500-$2000 per minute of running time or $90,000 - 120,000 for a one-hour show.

This cost goes up if a lot of difficult location work is involved (shooting the erection of an off-shore windmill, for example) and down if there are a lot of talking heads.

Video equipment may be cheap these days, but getting people who have an understanding of complex story-telling is still the challenge.

I think you could do a great series on the technology of "going green" in six hours.  The economics of a green future could be done in four.

So yes, the debate could be significantly altered for a million Euros.


"Remember the I35W bridge--who needs terrorists when there are Republicans"

by techno (reply@elegant-technology.com) on Wed Jun 13th, 2007 at 05:07:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The current 12 episode entertainment series I'm directing runs at less than 1000 € a minute. It's being shot on HD 1080i, and edited in HD.

It is cheap - but that is the Finnish market, with even the most successful primetime programs runing with audiences in the half million range. We have only been able to do it by using a lot of amateurs and a very young crew who want something meaty on their CV.

I personally couldn't afford to do it without the commerical work that I am able to continue with during intermittent production schedule of the series. It is a labour of love. The series has, so far, also stirred a lot of public debate - so in one sense it has succeeded according to our intentions.

The question we have laid out in this discussion is where to aim and at what level to pitch the complexities. Jérôme's chart neatly pointed out that there would be quite an impact on energy use if domestic usage was made more efficient. So then the question was - how do you persuade the mass audience to change? And, as a sidebar question, can the power of ET be harnessed in collaborative TV making?

One is competing with a plethora of crap in MSM, that is hard to cut through. On the other hand, one can make all the fine programs one wants, but who will watch them? Even if some kind soul pays for them.

Gore was able to make 'An Inconvenient Truth' and Moore has made a few acclaimed 'documentary' movies on the basis of track record and audience recognition. We don't have that. If there was a green awareness in MSM audiences then I think the European Green political parties would be doing much better than they are.

So if you are going to reach these MSM audiences, you have to compete in the context of MSM programming. What we are arguing about is how entertaining can you make the package, in order to sneak in a few ideas that might make a difference.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Thu Jun 14th, 2007 at 04:08:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Of course, it IS possible to make TV for 1000 Euros / minute (or even less) but as you have discovered, low budget productions get to be labors of love and plans for expensive location shots (etc.) get scrapped.  Lose enough production values and your potential audience shrinks as well.  And as you have also discovered, going to high-def photography changes the cost structure hardly at all.  I am old enough to remember linear editing and that was SO expensive, the new equipment seems almost cost-free.

You may find MSM a "plethora of crap" and judged by intellectual content, you would be correct.  But note that even the worst MSM "crap" has a LOT of production value.  I seriously doubt you can cut many corners here and still get an audience.  I mean, even Al Gore's slide show / documentary had some 3D animation sequences and Moore's work has a LOT of production values.  It may be possible that a "green" message is so important, people will watch it no matter how low the production values--but I doubt it.

There is also the problem that MANY "green" ideas don't work very well.  We have had folks on this very site suggest that building houses of STRAW is a good idea.  It is not.  And just suggesting such foolishness thoroughly discredits anything else we might have to say.

The biggest "green" video nightmare I could imagine is a combination of silly ideas and low production values.


"Remember the I35W bridge--who needs terrorists when there are Republicans"

by techno (reply@elegant-technology.com) on Thu Jun 14th, 2007 at 05:09:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Actually, I have been trying to get videos made on these subjects for some time.  And with mixed success.

For example, I wrote a series on energy for 10-14 year-olds on energy for a CBS O&O in Minneapolis.  You can see samples here under "Energy for Everyone:
http://www.elegant-technology.com/portfolioVE.html

Essentially, there are three types of videos to be made;

  1. How bad are the environmental problems?
  2. Do we have the technological understanding to build a green / solar society?
  3. What's stopping us?--the economics and political impediments to a better future.

Since I believe the answer to category #1 is "TERRIBLE," this is only a meaningful topic as a set-up.  As for category #2, that is a moving target.  Essentially I believe we don't have all the parts to build a green society but we have the capability to invent whatever is necessary.

That leaves category #3.  I have been trying to get that subject into a video for years.  I did make a video to sell the idea of making a larger 6-part series on the economics of a green future.  You can see this proposal video here under the title, "Creating Prosperity."

http://www.elegant-technology.com/

So if you have a budget to make these things, I certainly know where to find the talent to get them made.


"Remember the I35W bridge--who needs terrorists when there are Republicans"

by techno (reply@elegant-technology.com) on Wed Jun 13th, 2007 at 04:59:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I was trying of how to throw in the future rewards of going green in the show but I am having a hard time of it.

People have children but don't think of what kind of planet they will leave them.  

If well-meaning people can be taught or motivated somehow to think of the future impact of their actions, the behaviour of a lot of parents would change.

But how to incorporate this?

by zoe on Mon Jun 11th, 2007 at 03:16:47 PM EST
ok, future rewards/punishments is a difficult one because if people thought ahead, no one would smoke or over-eat and everyone would exercise.

but here's a way of doing it that will strike people as not too preachy:

start with a certain amount of green credits that every family receives and will be an inheritance to their children.  and, as people use their SUV's, etc, they diminish their children's future inheritance, or if they bicycle to work, they can increase it.  (there has to be a reward, I think)

this way, the future aspect of one's behaviour, even if one doesn't have children yet,  can be highlighted

by zoe on Mon Jun 11th, 2007 at 03:45:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I should add that Canada was one of the first nations to have big warnings on cigarette packages.  then, they introduced pictures of diseased lungs, mouths, hearts on packages.  the use of these pics is believed to have substantially decreased the number of smokers, so behaviour can be modified by showing the future impact of one's behaviour.
by zoe on Mon Jun 11th, 2007 at 03:48:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Now that puts me into a spin. One fantasizes about a typical cruel US version, that throws the player out when they have used up all their credits, rather like poker tournaments.

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Jun 11th, 2007 at 03:51:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But are the Finns as sadistic as the Yankees?  I think not.  

I mean, what are you going to do is some family is too much of an energy guzzler?  Vote them off the planet?  

by zoe on Mon Jun 11th, 2007 at 03:59:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Life in winter here is sadistic enough, without wishing cruel punishment upon one's fellow Finns.

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Jun 11th, 2007 at 04:03:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
phht, I was born and raised in Northern Canada, so tell me about winter.  
by zoe on Mon Jun 11th, 2007 at 04:06:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sven, if we come up with a well-designed European project clearly general interest oriented, I think we might be able to find some financing from the European Commission.

It could be submitted as a project within the framework of  The Intelligent Energy Europe programme led by the The EC Directorate-General for Energy and Transport and operated by The Intelligent Energy Executive Agency (IEEA)

Here is the guide for the proposers. and here is a multilingual video/slide show explaining the programme.

I can find more information through my connections in Brussels, if needed.

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet

by Melanchthon on Mon Jun 11th, 2007 at 05:05:30 PM EST
And here is the call for proposals 2007

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Mon Jun 11th, 2007 at 05:16:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'll have to read these thru tomorrow. Thanks

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Jun 11th, 2007 at 05:33:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
but interesting.

The verdict seems to be 'show, don't tell'.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Jun 11th, 2007 at 08:15:09 PM EST
or 'glamourise ' it ;-)

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Tue Jun 12th, 2007 at 02:15:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Sven Triloqvist on Tue Jun 12th, 2007 at 02:40:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But showing is the right way to tell (as I'm sure you know).

The problem there (smoking) is that it concerns a shrinking minority that feels insecure and threatened. Doubled with the problem of physical addiction.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Jun 12th, 2007 at 05:54:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Lots of ideas and a really great diary. I'm sorry I haven't had time to get into the discussion properly. To be continued, let's hope...
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Jun 12th, 2007 at 06:00:42 AM EST
ECONOMICS!!!

Until we discuss why current economic and monetary assumptions make environmental destruction inevitable, everything else is just details.

In 1989 when I wrote Elegant Technology, I figured that it would cost a MINIMUM of $100 trillion over 50 years to produce a true solar-powered society.  I MAY have been off by an order of magnitude but my point still stands--this problem is WAY beyond changing a few light bulbs.  And the sooner we start describing the problems in realistic terms, the more likely it is that we could come up with solutions that have a chance of doing some good.

"Remember the I35W bridge--who needs terrorists when there are Republicans"

by techno (reply@elegant-technology.com) on Tue Jun 12th, 2007 at 09:49:42 AM EST
Yes!

We should discuss: local communities that have gone back to barter economy as a way to get around unemployment; cooperatives large and small; microcredit; and monetary reform.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jun 13th, 2007 at 02:40:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Now the programmes I would like to see are:

(a) a controlled demolition of the existing system - the Money as Debt cartoon is a good indicator of what's possible; followed by

(b) an outline of a simple "asset-based" alternative, networked clearing, mutualised creidt yada yada.

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Wed Jun 13th, 2007 at 09:00:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I am ALL for barter and microcredit, etc.  But seriously, USA has over 200,000,000 vehicles that are absolutely worthless without gasoline.  Do you REALLY believe that replacing a fleet that size can be done with barter???

There is NO substitute for democratic regulation of the money-changers.


"Remember the I35W bridge--who needs terrorists when there are Republicans"

by techno (reply@elegant-technology.com) on Wed Jun 13th, 2007 at 09:23:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
IMHO the US is beyond repair, but that's part of why I left.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jun 13th, 2007 at 10:01:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You may be right.  In fact, every time I must debate with an "economist" who spouts U. of Chicago talking points, I am almost driven to despair.

"Remember the I35W bridge--who needs terrorists when there are Republicans"
by techno (reply@elegant-technology.com) on Wed Jun 13th, 2007 at 10:17:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm sure they can run [or be retrofitted to run] on synthetic hydrocarbons, such as Dimethyl Ether (hat tip to NNadir). This doesn't mean it's going to be cheap, but these vehicles will be used for their expected useful life.

The question is, what is being done to provide alternatives? Could the US reduce its fleet of cars by a reasonable amount in 10 to 15 years?

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jun 13th, 2007 at 04:59:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sounds like an excellent idea. Obviously it's way early still to start pitching segments, but they're building wind turbines like crazy (well, okay, at a slow-to-moderate pace, really) in my old neck of the woods (the Åland Islands) to the point where about 25% of the electricity will be wind-generated within the next few years. I've always thought that was pretty cool and worthy of some coverage.

"The basis of optimism is sheer terror" - Oscar Wilde
by NordicStorm (m<-at->sturmbaum.net) on Tue Jun 12th, 2007 at 09:55:33 AM EST
The popular German "science" show (think of elementary school lessons, only with boobies) Galileo is going to start an initiative called CO2NTRA, which will be featured in at least five 1-hour episodes at prime time. It's all about celebrities and companies supporting it for image reasons and "environment protection that's fun". Raising awareness is a good thing, but I can't manage to watch this kind of show. Maybe I'll give it a try to see how they do it.

/This thread is full of great ideas. I'm impressed.


"If you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles." Sun Tzu

by Turambar (sersguenda at hotmail com) on Tue Jun 12th, 2007 at 04:42:11 PM EST
One thing we could aim at producing is "the Cosmos of sustainability".

There's no reason why rigorous science cannot be presented in Documentary form without being boring - Cosmos was a stupendous hit.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jun 13th, 2007 at 02:44:55 AM EST
It depends on the issue.

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Wed Jun 13th, 2007 at 02:53:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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