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Amanda's ABC Debut

That line makes me giggle. Yes, we remember. And now she's on ABCnews.com. It's rather surreal to see her in this context. It feels like the grownups ("MSM") left the cameras and lights on and Amanda snuck into the studio to make this quirky little show. Check out her Steely Dan t-shirt (!).

Steve Garfield, 10 Zen Monkeys, and the New York Times have great critiques. I'm actually relieved it's a weekly show, because it's much more likely I'll have time to watch. I don't get my up-do-the-minute fresh links from video, I get them from TailRank, BoingBoing, etc. which is much more immediate and non-linear. A weekly show with Amanda's take on the news, weird links/video, and especially content from the audience will make this a compelling experiment for ABC and Amanda.

No RSS podcast feed, pre-roll ads, popup player, no links, comments are completely disassociated from the video. Amanda says she is working on the infrastructure issues with them, so hopefully they can learn to be nimble and flexible. She's had total script control, which is great.

Honestly I wasn't interested until the artificial blood story. (Disclaimer: I've played with Popular Front's groovy snowflake thingie a lot over the last few years.) The coolest part of the show for me, aside from the dream sequence, was the cameo by funny young vlogger William Hung.

In spite of user-submitted links, Rocketboom often feels like traditional top-down media, though quirkier and born of internet culture. Boing Boing is the same way. They are filters and guides, tastemakers and curators, with a lot of help from the audience. Something about asking for and including video from your audience feels more interactive to me. The host is the voice of authority, the host has the power and the voice through video. So a text comment or contributed link does not nearly equate with the power of video. Including amateur video and interacting with that person disseminates the top-down aspect and makes it feel more lively and interactive, even though the host/producer still has the power to choose who and what is shown. You know, like Vlog Santa.

WHEW. Well, that's all I have to say for now. Andrew Baron has a rather different take, of course. There is a lot of behind-the-scenes history behind his post, so it's certainly more complicated than "sour grapes" as some people are saying. But I'm doing my best to keep my nose out of that. I do wonder what big news Rocketboom has in store?

Good night, and may God continue to bless the United States of Amerikka.

December 13, 2006 at 11:33 PM in Videoblogging | Permalink


Also: I'm rather tickled to see videos I edited for Amanda Across America linked on ABC News: Atrios, Jeff Jarvis, and Tom Vilsack. Yay.

Posted by: Chuck at Dec 14, 2006 2:21:09 AM

Fun stuff. You can't really blame Amanda for doing what she is doing. Andrew's post seems quite vindictive and purposefully bitter. I think he made the mistake of thinking that the pretty broad on the screen didn't matter and that it was all about him. Dude, not all pretty broads are created equal! That he is now competing with Amanda is something he should have taken into account before he was so willing to part ways with her. She helped him as much or more as he helped her.

Don't know Amanda, don't know Andrew, but this all seems like fair play to me. I hope she has fun with it and shakes up the big media folks a bit.

Posted by: Michael at Dec 14, 2006 2:34:31 PM

FYI, I posted my thoughts here:

I consider this a disgrace to women.

Posted by: Allen at Dec 14, 2006 5:53:46 PM

And my response, which I'll also post here:

With all due respect, your comments are ridiculous.

You seem as obsessed with Amanda's breasts as all the juvenile commenters, only in more of a grandfatherly "cover those up!" sort of way.

That's the way Amanda looks, and that's the way she dresses. Get over it.

To couch your disapproval of her casual style in faux-feminism is particularly off-base considering Amanda is co-producer of her show and has complete script control. I'd call that a victory for women, and you should too.

I'd also add - Amanda isn't a news reporter, and this obviously isn't a hard news show. It's fine to be lament "soft" content on ABCnews.com, as long as you understand this show is what it is.

Posted by: Chuck at Dec 14, 2006 6:37:21 PM

We'll have a subscription option up next week. Links are up now. We're working on everything else. Things are changing, people are listening to me--and to the blogosphere-- at ABC.It's an exciting time.

Posted by: Amanda at Dec 14, 2006 6:42:03 PM

Great! Part of why I posted those issues was to give you more ammo to show ABC.

Posted by: Chuck at Dec 14, 2006 6:46:57 PM

Sorry Chuck I disagree. Amanda is doing a disservice to herself, ABC News and to women in general. ABC News is supposed to be a reliable news outfit, and this does not belong there. If this was on TMZ or the like, maybe then it would be "ok". Comedy Central perhaps, maybe (and thats a big maybe) even ABC's main site. But don't put hair flips with supposedly real news.

Frankly I am not sure why the execs at ABC News chose to put this where they did. I asked Amanda to do an interview as part of my interviews collection, but she has not replied. Naturally Amanda will do well, because sex sells better than anything else.

Posted by: Allen at Dec 14, 2006 6:48:40 PM

And, you know what you are right about one thing.
That is the way she dresses.
I know a lot of women who dress that way.
They wouldn't go on CNBC that way.
Tell me the last time you saw Maria interview someone
in a super clingy tshirt and flip hair.
(sorry for weird line breaks)

Posted by: Allen Stern at Dec 14, 2006 6:52:51 PM

I can see being critical of her placement on ABCnews.com. But I argue ABC's audience is getting more information online and spending more time learning about things from blogs and videoblogs -- so this is a space they need to explore. Hiring Amanda for this experiment is probably the fastest, most high-profile way they could delve into this world.

You continue to equate Amanda's very existence with "sex" - guess I'm not going to change your mind on that odd fact. As for the way she dresses and the style, don't you think ABC News would do well to attract a younger audience?

Posted by: Chuck at Dec 14, 2006 7:06:05 PM


your one of those social color blind types, so it seems. you think you have it all figured out before you even give 10% of your self to truly think about the big picture. sadly, you dont grok the context of Amanda and her projects and you dont seem to be in tune at all with reality as it is.... here and now.

and regarding you pathetic comments on sexism, go find a target that fits your illusion. Amanda is very much casual, comfortable and normal. she need not where a suit for the casual projects she has been involved in. you've got deer headlights syndrome? She young, attractive and bubbly. Big deal. Its a quick tech/culture show, not the Nightly News or whatever. Like it or not, its not supposed to be a serious respectable news broadcast. lightbulbs going off yet?

Now go write something that matters and stop wasting space.


Posted by: sull at Dec 14, 2006 7:48:32 PM

Sull - then get it off ABC News and on to some E! type network - still will be just as bad for women, but at least it won't tarnish the reputation of a real news network.

Posted by: Allen at Dec 14, 2006 9:42:15 PM

Ugh. Please explain how Amanda being herself and writing/producing her own show is bad for women. Please note, pointing to juvenile comments about her boobs does not constitute an argument.

Posted by: Chuck at Dec 14, 2006 10:05:53 PM

Hi, Allen, you are dead wrong on this one.

Yes, she has a nice rack. Don't hold that against her! That's called biology. (For the record, I have really nice balls, they just don't get noticed as much.)

If you knew a little history of Amanda and Rocketboom it would all make a bit more sense. Yes, of course, good looks don't hurt. That's why so many showbiz folks, both men and women, are attractive. The notion that an attractive woman can't do a show like this without being a disgrace to women is bat shit crazy.

I still totally expect ABC to fuck it up but perhaps Amanda will prevail.

Posted by: Michael at Dec 14, 2006 11:04:25 PM

As I wake up this morning, and clear the crust from my eyes :) what I find interesting is that in my entire article, everyone seems to go right for the tshirt comment. When that was one sentence in an overall article. I have updated the article and here is the update:

Update: Friday 8AM, Just to be clear, my issues below with Amanda's video show, are not so much about her tshirt, I apologize if that is the way it appears. My issues are more with the ditzy appearance (overall look, tone, hair swoops, etc.) of someone who is on a respectable news channel. The tshirt comment just adds fuel to the fire. Someone on another blog called her the Suzanne Sommers of video blogging, that is fine, move it to a network suitable for that. In addition, how many mainstream people know what JavaScript is? If this is a video show for male geeks, then again, move it somewhere else. C'mon, go ask 10 non-tech people what JavaScript is.

In addition, Chuck, I had a look at your archives and I see you love Amanda, so it will be hard for you to see another viewpoint. I understand.

I would still love to chat with Amanda sometime about why a (chuck says) smart, intelligent, industry knowledgeable woman would resort to hair flips, camera swoops, and lighting to try to get ahead. That is the disgrace part.

Posted by: Allen at Dec 15, 2006 7:20:30 AM

Who cares if Chuck has nice tits. It's all about the content anyways.

Posted by: TaulPaul at Dec 15, 2006 11:49:43 AM

Dude, in my case, my tits are my content! It's all I've got. I'm sorry. My beautiful balls fell off long ago.

Allen: I think you're re-stating your underlying criticism, that Amanda's show isn't hard news and therefore shouldn't be on ABCnews.com. That's certainly a valid point. Suzanne Sommers of videoblogging.... that's hilarious actually, considering they almost had a Threes Company-style open for Amanda Across America.

As for your dislike of her style -- "disgrace" is just the wrong word. C'est la vie.

Posted by: Chuck at Dec 15, 2006 12:31:50 PM

Chuck - check out my new post about 2 other female video bloggers I like.

Posted by: Allen at Dec 15, 2006 1:24:47 PM

I'm sorry Allen, but I find it repugnant that you are trying to put women in a box. Women today can be and do whatever the F they want and don't have to wear a suit and be all serious to get respect and get anywhere in the world. Why would we want to become men after all? It's the evolution of feminism baby and you better get used to it!

It seems to me your main point about Amanda is that she should play by the (male) rules of what is respectable or get out of the game. I think Amanda and all women out there being who they are with no apologies are a great credit to women and how far we have come from the days when our conduct was strictly dictated by men. Would you have us go back there Allen?

Well, it doesn't matter if you would or not, we will not get back in that cage!!!

And please don't think for one second you're some kind of feminist.

Also, why do you think it's a show for male geeks? Can't women be interested in the web and "geeky" things? Can't women also like pretty, goofy women?

Oh, and I'm not a "tech person" but I know what JavaScript is, I may not know how to write it, but I know what it is. AND I'm a WOMAN.

Posted by: Lorika at Dec 15, 2006 1:32:31 PM

(Uh-oh -- Lorika brought the smackdown!)

Other women vloggers you like - sure. You might actually prefer Amanda's roadtrip videos more than her show - they're more journalistic/documentary style. Check out her interviews with Jeff Jarvis and jailed vlog-journalist Josh Wolf.

(Disclaimer - I edited those videos.)

Posted by: Chuck at Dec 15, 2006 1:40:38 PM

Chuck - she did not bring any smackdown or anything of the sort. But let me try to address Lorika's comments.

And note, that I had many similar issues (except the outfit part) with the Technorati vlog (now BuzzTV). But that does not put itself on a mainstream news network and claim to be a news show.

You are completely right Lorika, women can and should and will do everything. I think that's the best part about the web. It is a more level playing ground for everyone (including this fat, white, jewish man). And if you would check out my updated comments on the top of my post, maybe that would help. If this was on an entertainment network (say E! or Comedy Central), fine. But alas, it is on a major U.S. News network claiming to be a news show for the masses (which starts her premiere episode by talking about something majority of the world does not even know what it is!). The same company who one line above her video reports on Diana or Iraq.

Also, go have a look at the comments on the abc news blog, crunch gear, valleywag, gawker, digg, or any of the other sites who have posted about it. All they talk about is her chest and looks. Why don't you call out all of them about their comments? This is why I called it a disgrace. When you compare her to the other news type video bloggers, it is a disgrace. Because she comes across as a ditz (one of the site called her Suzanne Somers on 3s co). From what I can tell she appears to be a savvy person in both biz and tech. Why not let that come through?

When I talk about the male geeks, this is because of the thousands of comments I reviewed, and hundreds of posts, the majority (over 90%) where males, and most where horseshit comments about her looks. I do my research when I write.

And no, I did not watch Rocketboom, I was away building Fortune 100 company's online strategies. And frankly the comparisons should not even be made, it is a new show. It's not "Rocketboom, now on ABC." Let the Rocketboom era end, this should be a new journey for her, right?

Is this really a newscast? C'mon Lorika, you honestly can't believe this is a newscast. And when I talk about JavaScript, I am talking about the people like my mother, who uses sites like ABC to get her news. I am guessing that the majority of the mainstream people who use the Internet for news probably have no idea what JS is.

You claim that women have been out of the cage or something, then at the same time you are ok with a woman who flips her hair and wears a tight tee to get viewers? Not sure but I think there is a conflict of interest there.

So tell me this Chuck since you know her (and appear to be behind her 100%) - what is her ABC News show about? Tech news? Daily news?

Have a look at the two female video bloggers that I posted today. Much better. Better for women. Better for men. Better for the Internet. Just better.

And in closing, maybe "disgrace" was not the right word to use. At a minimum she is doing a disservice to women news anchors, male news anchors, and to people who want to see real news coverage. I almost think she is an actress portraying a role in a fake newscast perhaps.

Posted by: Allen at Dec 15, 2006 3:35:34 PM

We're definitely going in circles here. But I'm glad to have a 17+ comment thread going, haven't had that here in quite awhile. :-)

What I keep hearing you say Allen is, essentially, you don't like the style or content of Amanda's show. Those are both fine and perfectly legitimate criticisms.

The mistake you made: Equating your dislike of her style/content with being a "disgrace for women." So you prefer Amber Mac to Amanda Congdon - that's all peachy. Just don't attempt to bring a feminist perpective into your preferences, because you don't have a leg to stand on there.

In case I didn't make it clear, I think the way Gawker, Valleywag. etc. can't say anything about her without mentioning her boobs is just appalling. I'm certainly no prude, but their obsession is absolutely relentless and demeaning. Of course, they don't (a) pretend to be feminists, or (b) comment on my blog inviting me to their posts. That's why you get special attention. :-)

Posted by: Chuck at Dec 15, 2006 4:18:21 PM

Yea, as a big time forum'er, I am not always sold on the blog concept. For me the discussion is missed. And, I am a nut about analytics, so I check all referrers and that's how I found your blog. And naturally I replied, I think it is very important that: a. bloggers who write posts, reply to comments and b. other people commenting on my content on their sites I do my best to reply to as well. Maybe I am different in that regard.

Style, content, look, appearance, and I still believe it sets a bad example for women. I am not sure that makes me a feminist, and frankly call me whatever you want. I have been called worse trust me (see earlier looks comment).

And I agree with you, my comments about her shirt were/are not the same in any regard to the ones on the other sites. I think it is horrible and just bad. There are "girl pic" forums, and that crap should stay there. But I guess, just like some people make it on their looks and sex sells aspect, some must report on that to get the downward flow buzz.

I have enjoyed this discussion, I hope we can continue, and I hope maybe you picked up my feed :) Now I have to do some JavaScript coding (no kidding!)

Posted by: Allen at Dec 15, 2006 5:04:05 PM

I'm just glad we're not talking about politics, so we can end this conversation in a civil manner. :-)

I have to say I didn't understand why Amanda was mentioning Javascript as the first thing in her show - I didn't initially get she was referring to the popup.

Anyway, nice chatting with you.

Posted by: Chuck at Dec 15, 2006 5:15:01 PM

Chuck - did you really need to post that comment on Flickr? Oh well..

In my opinion, she should have opened the show by starting with a bio, some overview of what the show covers, etc. Not everyone knows who she is, even if she thinks they do. Esp. since the link is a big one on the abcn home page.

Now that I think about it - it almost felt like a skit from MadTV or SNL.

Posted by: Allen at Dec 15, 2006 6:39:27 PM

I'm excited to see a network jumping in and letting a vlogger do something totally different, just using their online space. It's something traditional media companies struggle with (trust me, I know). How much is the website an extension of the TV station? What standards of decorum and style and dress apply? What editorial standards? I like to think that most people get that the online world is different from the TV world, and it's cool to have Amanda on the website. Amanda at ABCNews.com doesn't make me think anything about Charlie Gibson and the whole ABC News world. It does make me think that maybe ABCNews.com is making an effort to get with it.

Posted by: Jason at Dec 15, 2006 9:44:32 PM

Jason -- spot on. I know full well it's difficult-to-impossible to get institutions to change or try anything new. You know, like a Jason Derusha video email thingie.

Allen, not sure what Flickr comment you're referring to? Don't think it was me...

Posted by: Chuck at Dec 16, 2006 12:40:29 AM

Chuck - I could be wrong, but wasn't this your comment:

Says Chuckumentary as the user and the link comes here.

Posted by: Allen at Dec 16, 2006 5:28:54 AM

ohhh yeah, that's me allright!
sorry, just having fun. i'm done now.

Posted by: Chuck at Dec 16, 2006 6:01:39 AM

Ok, I'm just going to ignore crazy Allen and move on to your comments, Chuck, about crazy Andrew. Hopefully this will be the end of it.


Posted by: Amanda Congdon at Dec 16, 2006 11:11:16 AM

LOL ignore crazy Allen - I like that Amanda. Too bad neither you nor ABC would discuss the show. I would certainly love to speak with ABC to understand why they selected your show.

Posted by: Allen at Dec 16, 2006 3:42:11 PM