Monday, September 15, 2008

Off-Web Webcast

When is a webcast not a webcast? Webcasts - whether videos, interactive presentations, or some other form of multimedia - are usually available to anyone with an Internet connection. They are typically “free” as long as the viewer is willing to fill out a registration form. Even though “free”, the challenge is usually to attract an audience, not mention retaining them for the length of the webcast.

Novelist Philip Roth will discuss his latest book, Indignation, in a webcast this week (7 pm, EDT, Tuesday September 16th). In my opinion, Mr. Roth is a considerable talker as well as writer, so this should be worth viewing. Yet you won’t be able to watch from your home or office computer. The event is a virtual book tour, which will take place simultaneously on the books publication date. This web cast will be private and can only be seen in fifty book stores around the country. The online world and virtual book stores, most noticeably are not on the tour.

As with, for example, in store parties for the latest release of Harry Potter, this is an attempt to make the real world more interesting than the virtual and substitute the community of a live audience (ironically for a virtual event) for the community of a social network.

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