Square Peg, Meet Round Hole. | Tech | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Square Peg, Meet Round Hole.


Published September 25, 2008 at 5:08 p.m.

Science fiction author, internet activist and uber-blogger, Cory Doctorow, has a piece at internetevolution.com about how we should stop judging new media from an old media framework.  Sitcoms seem like they work best in 22-minute (plus commercials) segments because that's the box that sitcoms fit in, but we shouldn't infer that all comedies in the video medium must therefore conform to that standard...

Twenty-two-minute sitcoms are highly evolved creatures, as formally bounded as a sonnet. Their highly paid practitioners have an arcane vocabulary and procedure to describe the system by which they are assembled to achieve maximal effect; we, the audience for these shows, have imbibed so many of them that we unconsciously expect the twists and turns the storytellers are delivering, even if we lack a conscious understanding of the formal structure and the specialist jargon needed to describe it.

By contrast, the short Internet video isn't a single genre -- it's more like cosmic narrative dust hurtling through space, clumping together here and there into larger conglomerates, then splitting apart before stabilizing. There's no formal structure to the eight-minute teenage-ramble-from-the-bedroom -- both the creator and the audience are winging it.