"a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun"
for 6 December 1995. Updated every WEEKDAY.

The Real Web


[Exit to Honda]

Perhaps they all exited to Honda.



Here's what we imagined in the

Virtual Dorm at 3 am: in the

Kitchen, Lucy in a nightshirt,

hunting through the dirty

dishes, discarded pizza boxes,

and empty beer cans for that

bottle of Tylenol she swore she

saw earlier. In the Hangout

room, Ben and Andy passed out

from indulging a bit too much

in, as Andy puts it, "the good

stuff". Garth, the late night

hacker, illuminated by the blue

light of his CRT, snarfing down

Twinkies, jacking into his own

"slippery digital revolution"

until the wee hours in the

morning. Abby, asleep on her

futon, curled around a copy of

Jimmy Carter's Talking Peace: A

Vision for the Next Generation.


[Garth's Clock]

What we got instead: a live feed

of Garth's digital alarm clock

display as a miserably

minimalist mise-en-scene.


The Virtual Dorm. Gather together

five Real World wannabes. Forget

about editing, voice over

narration, or even expensive

camera equipment - throw out the

production values and install a

couple of QuickCams instead. VD

is real. VD is live.


Admittedly, we harbor a grudging

respect for programs which take

the cinema verité approach, on

the realization that when the

greatest production expense is

the donuts for the crew, there's

a lot of room left for profit.

In fact, if we had our druthers,

we'd be able to watch The Making

of Cops after every episode of

our favorite show - seeing how

they get the recently-busted to

sign a release form is nothing

if not compelling television.

The formula for VD is a natural:

allow irresponsible college

freshmen to fornicate and

self-medicate in front of the

camera because they're too

trashed or stoned to care.



[Drinking Coffee?]

Now, it's a platitude that the

camera changes everything - that

the act of observing affects the

outcome of the very thing being

observed. We're beginning to

question the veracity of that

assertion. If only there was

some posturing for the camera at

VD: some unidentifiable shadow

that may or may not have been

drinking a cup of coffee in the

kitchen at 10:30 am (we couldn't

really tell) does not exactly

make for edge-of-the-seat

entertainment. Perhaps if they'd

rigged the participants with

wearable QuickCams like Greg

Elin, more candid tomfoolery

would have been forthcoming.

Then again, it probably would

have just seemed freaky.



Part of VD's difficulties may be

that, unlike other programming

in its genre, it refuses to take

its cues from The Breakfast

Club. VD is supposed to assemble

a mix of "characters" - the

jock, the brain, the criminal,

the princess, and Ally Sheedy -

and sit back and watch the zany

antics as their particular

ideologies clash. But the East

Coast college that the students

of VD attend must have problems

attracting a diverse student

population, since, in spite of

t@p online's screening process,

each of the five participants is

a granola. Of course, without

sound, the subtleties of

squabbles between stereotypes

would be lost, anyway - since

the video's not good enough to

read lips, you'd need real

Puck-style posturing to get much

out of it.


[Best Pict]

Perhaps there is one interesting

proof-of-concept that can be

found in VD, however: if the

"Best Picts (so far...)" are any

indication, no one's going to

bother to store any of the video

footage on tape for posterity.

So at least there won't be


courtesy of Nemo