The peeps over at Transport Evolved have been working very hard to make a new “product”. They have taken the old Transport Evolved updated the website and brought out some new shows such as T.E.N. To be honest I think all the best to them and it is great that they are trying but, and yes there is a but, I’ve started to find that I’m loosing my focus with them and drifting away.
Let us start at the beginning and try and work out how we managed to get to this point and hopefully is there anything we can do to resolve the current state of play?
So early on at the start of the year there was a random Robert Llewellyn related Nissan Leaf Google+ Hangout thing (sadly not recorded)……………………… It was in fact when Hangouts were considered cool and everyone was doing them. In fact it was before Google tried to force all of its separate cool apps into Google+ or G+ as it has become and by doing so ruin everything. But that is another tale.
……………..So Robert was doing a hangout with Nissan for the day one rolling off the assembly line of the new UK built Nissan Leaf. I had tuned in as had about 15 other people one of whom one was Nikky Gordon-Bloomfield. In that G+ hangout whilst we waited and waited and waited for Nissan and Robert to join it appeared that only Nikki and I were happy to chat away with the other members either busy working on things or just being very British and silent. During this conversation Nikki talked about in a “shameless” but deserving plug Transport Evolved. It sounded an interesting concept and show so I tuned in. At this point it was also being presented via a hangout and simultaneous via Justin.tv - which I never went near. It also had a bit of a tired and run-down website which I think the main purpose was to provide access to the live chatting function and embedded Justin.tv player - which I never went near.
So for several weeks ever Thursday evening I would roll up to my PC fire-up my browser and navigate over to G+ to join the hangout. It was great in those early days. Now don’t get me wrong by this point Transport Evolved was in the 150s episode range. So the they had a format returning co-presenters and lots of neat kit. Some of which was old and slow and others new and fancy.
Nikki used to let the live show start a bit earlier and you could have a quick chat whilst she was setting up things. Then there was the live show and finally it would end with a little post show thing which again we could all chat in.
It however became clear that kind of live show running from a shared hangout was not working so it switched to being a closed hangout where you could join but not comment and Nikki had full control and a separate post-show hangout.
I think I liked that interactive part of the show. I started to join the chat as well and it was a great overall experience. Not to mention you had the ability to help define the show content with a rolling poll for possible show stories which went live a few days before the show did.
Then the rot started…..
I had been away for a while and back in the UK to discover the new website and new show date of Sunday not Thursday. OK that was no problem. But to my horror gone was G+ hangout pre/post or any part of the show and replaced with just the Justin.tv feed. Which after about 15 minutes of messing with I finally got it to work only to discover it had terrible audio. Fortunately they now also have an audio feed via mixlr which was really clear. So I ended up with a muted Justin.tv feed, mixlr in the background for audio and a separate xchat window because well I hate the webchat interface.
Now this first of the new shows had Robert Llewellyn on (see previous post about book signing) and to my genuine sadness he made several comments - in fact part of the show included how scientist distort/hide the truth (he has also posted similar comments on his blog). As a paid up member of the scientist club I was rather saddened by this. Much more so than when critique is made at the poorly balanced programming of major TV broadcasters and EVs but I didn’t see any balance in that show on that night.
Of course there is no need for balance in screencast show so let us carry on. And of course I was typing away on the chat but it wasn’t really picked up during the show itself. It was by some of the other watchers but I really felt I was a single voice in a sea of nothingness. It was a very similar feeling as to when there was much hype about “bad science” in a paper. No one had bothered to contact the journal or anything other than blog how bad these people who were being funded by evil oil companies were. In the end they published a Corrigendum but I was still startled by some of the responses it got.
I then missed the next episode and didn’t watch a live recording. I did watch a reply via YouTube which for all my hatred of Google worked perfectly and I could use my phone to do so. I didn’t really feel I had missed anything that I would have got from watching it live. As the interaction via the live chat is some what muted and limited due to the pressure of producing the show I guess. Very different from Linux Outlaws irc chat.
At the end of the episode Nikki made a plea for us to turn off our addblockers on the new Transport Evolved website as both her and Mark Chatterley (co-presenter/producer) of InEarEnt fame (see previous post) were trying to make a business of sorts out of the site and every little click helped. I just thought - NO. I’m happy to have Google adverts appear in the YouTube and vanish after 30 odd seconds, I’m happy for the add breaks during the show and I’m always happy to Flattr good web content. But I’m not really happy to turn off my addblocker so that I can find myself with hundreds of new cookies from third party websites appearing in my browser and being used to modify content on other websites. Nor am I really happy to find DoubleClick or AddToAny cookies at all.
Perhaps I am slightly bitter I did offer to help with the new website but my offer was completely ignored. I had the spare time and didn’t expect payment. I think my priorities would have been a tad different. I mean if WordPress are donating the code for you to self host don’t you feel a little bit bad removing their tiny “Proudly Powered By WordPress” advert in the footer text? I mean it is Open Source and they do allow it and all but still that is the only advert they include for a great CMS.
I mean, really is it ok to have adverts on the front page of your website but not your own donate or Flattr links? Or to leave the footer rider of the people who provided the code for free to let you host your sight. To me it is madness and another reason why I will block your adverts and clicks. Ok I will admit that Flattr/TiptheWeb/PayPal and other voluntary donate buttons probably earn you less money than the add banners do. But my petrol car costed me less money to buy than an electric one would have. Does that mean that the petrol car is the only correct solution? You do not remove the Nissan badge from your Nissan Leaf car when you own it so why remove the WordPress one?
Stop It Now Your Being Hypocritical!
Whilst it is true lots and lots of websites I visit have inherent and intrinsic advertising built into them. Google and their mail products included (don’t get me started on their +1 hijacking and user rating change of terms of conditions grrrrrrrrrrh). I have never been asked by the Energy Collective to disable my addblocker to help support their site. Nor have I found any TipTheWeb or Flattr links on their websites. But I guess I don’t feel a link to their content in the same way I do or did with Transport Evolved so it is a bit two faced of me that is true.
I should also stress at this point that they have brought out a new show called T.E.N. Transport Evolved News which is ten minutes long. Do you see what they have done there? Well I really liked the first one of those, the second not so much. Where as they had nice inter-cut segways which used some “wiggly” function in the first episode. I think due to criticism via the chat and twitter it was replaced with some attempt at a two camera cut and it just looked bitty, jumpy and for me distracting and awful. I’ve not seen the third yet (update: I have now and well OK -carry on with the rant) but I am honestly looking forward to it. Interestingly again it is not live.
And again I think this is where the rot has set-in because I probably get all I want from T.E.N. and find the longer show with less interaction or worse still the recorded show less entertaining for me. I love the RSC Webinars because I can interact and ask questions via Twitter. I loved Transport Evolved for the pre/post and live interactions during the show. Now I find I am not so engaged.
One final death nail to the whole thing is that where I had interpreted (they never said they were this) Transport Evolved to be about, well, the evolving face of transport from battery electric vehicles, hybrids to hydrogen. I actually find it is really just a show about electric vehicles defending their corner and not really about other technology such as hydrogen, methane (gas) or other hybrids. They do mention a few stories but not so much and in many cases mainly negative.
O’well such is life - I will keep watching, I think, but I’m not certain for how much longer. Of course I will even Flattr a T.E.N or two when they make it possible for me to do so. And I guess I will take Robert Llewellyn and Transport Evolve down off the pedestal I over eagerly placed them on.