Here's Looking at You; MIXED OPINIONS: Just a Handful of the Thousands of People Who Have Put Commentaries and Documentary Films on Current.Com

The Mail on Sunday (London, England), February 10, 2008 | Go to article overview

Here's Looking at You; MIXED OPINIONS: Just a Handful of the Thousands of People Who Have Put Commentaries and Documentary Films on Current.Com


Byline: Rob Waugh

Current. com

192. com Super Zoom

Al Gore's documentary site Current.com sounds like the stuff of liberal dreams.The site is a breeding ground for DIY documentaries - wannabe film-makersupload films, and the best, voted for by the viewers themselves, are showncontinuously on a Current TV channel.

It's democratic, it's high-tech - and the fact it's helmed by a Nobel peaceprize-winner doesn't hurt.

The site, which aims to raise $100 million in stocks this year, is designed tobring the YouTube effect to political video - and provide a springboard to anew generation of documentary makers. Gore has said the site will help to'reclaim democracy'.

But the positioning of the Current TV channel - channel 193 on Sky, 60 channelsbehind the trashy, 'babe'- filled motoring channel Men And Motors, is the firsthint that Current has yet to spread its wings. It's also available on Virgin ina similarly inauspicious slot.

It is difficult not to be impressed by the Current.com website, however. Itfeels more interactive than YouTube - it's certainly easier to upload your ownvideo. While the meat and drink of Current are the short documentaries createdfor the site, it bristles with other ways to get involved: you can do your ownvox-pop-style video comments, upload news videos from elsewhere on the web andcomment on live TV with incredible ease.

In ten minutes, I had uploaded a talking-head video of myself. You simply picka couple of options to sync your webcam with the site, and then one clickrecords your video.

Another uploads it to the site, where daily discussions rage in a vast soundingboard of talking heads.

Uploading news videos to the site is so easy it's horribly addictive. Yousimply drag a 'Make This Current' button from the site into your browser's topbar, then click that button to upload any videos you find on the web toCurrent.com.

Uploading a news video I found on YouTube, I had two comments on it in tenminutes, despite having selected a two-year-old excerpt from an Australiandocumentary. The downside of this ease of use is the abundance of pointless'quirky' clips on the site - there is a section entitled Bugs And Monkeys - butenough good, newsy clips float around to make browsing the site addictive.

If you are minded to direct your own 'Pod' - the site's term for a shortdocumentary - the site bends over backwards to help. The system where viewersvote for successful Pods is so transparent that you instantly feel: 'I have achance of stardom here.' With many built around music and culture, rather thanpolitics, the site's Pods aren't about to bring the militaryindustrial complexto its knees, but many of them show enough talent to make them compellingviewing. …

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