Tuesday 28 May 2013

TV documentary? That's like youtube with adverts, right?

A comment that wasn't interesting enough to hit the publish button on from early February
My name is Prashan and I work for RDF television. We are currently developing a documentary which is focused on the recent nightmare experiences of Bristol’s motorists. It would be really great to talk with some of the passionate contributors of this blog about their experiences of driving in Bristol and their views on Bristol council. Please pop me an email and we can arrange a chat. prashan.gunawardana@<snip> Thank you
Ignored, obviously. We consider ourselves the city's premier outlet of all content related to traffic in the city, be it important people in expensive 4X4s, transport-poor in little-people cars, the very poor on foot, and the tax-dodging law-breaking criminals on bicycles.

A few weeks later another hits the spamwall and fails.
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT PARKING AND TRAFFIC IN BRISTOL? Are you fed up with congestion & parking in Bristol? Are you strongly opposed - or for residents parking? I am working on a documentary for Channel 4 on the issues that are affecting Bristol’s traffic problems – and what to hear what you think! If you’ve got a strong opinion about traffic or parking. Or good ideas about how to make our roads work better, please get in touch - nicky.henderson@<deleted> are an award television production company specialising in documentaries. Recent programmes include Secret Millionaire (C4) and Emergency Bikers (Five). We look forward to hearing from you Nicky Henderson.
Oh wow, the same company that did Emergency Bikers! There is an opportunity here for a series related to the Bristol Traffic team's primary business model, "Emergency Adult Content delivery team!s". What do you do when the battery on your sex toys go flat and you can't replace them as the device is "in situ". Call us. What do you do when your internet connection goes down just as you settle down for an evening of video watching? Call us. Yes, it would be great.

But the tone of this whole thing, "the recent nightmare experiences of Bristol’s motorists.", show there's a bit of pre-program selection bias going on there. Our videos do document the hardships that drivers have to undergo, including, from a random selection of videos from recent nightmare experiences of Bristol's motorists:
So yes, we do have the best documentation of how motorists are having a nightmare in the city -and it doesn't come from congestion, it doesn't come from the RPZ, it comes from bicycles in our way. 

However, we don't see why we need a half hour television broadcast to state a fact that we have been documenting since 2008. We live online, in the network infrastructure provided by our strategic partners, Google. We are currently looking at using Netflix's application architecture instead, as anything called Chaos Monkey has to be played with. but Television? That's the stuff you have to download with bittorrent as they aren't as accessible as youtube. We don't see any strategic value in partnering there. We would rather work with Bristol's premier media company, Yogscast. The first youtube channel in the UK with 1B views; 4M subscribers & Bristol based. They are our role models. 4 million viewers watching them discuss minecraft mods or the best way to cook Jaffa Cakes when camping rough. These are the people we want to have knocking on our door discussing opportunities for collaboration

The other issue is that a recent London-based documentary, The War on Britain's Roads, painted an excessively sympathetic view of cyclists. Rather than just denouncing them for being there, by using many of their helmet camera videos, it implied that cycling round London was a dangerous activity -without ever raising the issue is why they were cycling round London in the first place. 

Here, then, is our full response to RDF television
  1. We fear that your statement  "the recent nightmare experiences of Bristol’s motorists." shows that you have already appeared to have set an agenda for the video.  We consider ourselves a data driven organisation, which is as incompatible with a preconception-driven process as post-enlightenment rational thought does with superstition. (more formally: they are equivalent)
  2. We fear that there are some details of this blog that may have escaped you. We aren't going to explain them, suffice to say you may be mildly embarrassed when you work it out.
  3. The fact that you don't appear to have got the point referred to in (2), implies your research process is somewhat inadequate.
  4. There's limits to what we can do to compensate for the weaknesses in your research process or pre-production bias. 
  5. It's not worth the effort of trying.
  6. All photographs on the Bristol Traffic web site are copyrighted to their original authors. If you wish to show them in your TV program, you will need those photographers' permissions. We can do the referrals, but the individual photographers may or may not give their consent.
  7. All videos on the Bristol Traffic web site are, again, copyright their original authors. Our publishing them on our blog or youtube does not grant anyone the automatic right to reproduce them on other media outlets.
We hope this clarifies things.

The Bristol Traffic Project.

The world's most popular documentary of the nightmare experiences of Bristol's Motorists: data-driven since 2008

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