Kangaroo: a leap in the wrong direction or not?

Farewell Kangaroo. We hardly knew yea’–and I never found your URL.

A good decision or a bad one? My dear friend Emily Bell says

Killing the Kangaroo project is a perversely stupid move which begs the question whether anyone on the Competition Commission has ever actually used the internet

But here is my take: Kangaroo was misguided from the outset. Kangaroo was all about taking forward last year’s status quo, merging it with a bit of hocus co-opetition, and spitting out a broadcast model onto the Internet. The Internet is not about broadcasting. The Internet facilitates group activity and grass roots activities and reduces the costs of co-ordination, production and broadcast.

But Kangaroo was a member’s club. Only members could post (the big broadcasters). And I for one hated that.

Here was the big opportunity: the opportunity was to create a digital video aggregation, navigation and search platform that could have been people-powered. People-powered in the sense that the big guys who were big because they have historically been big (e.g. the BBC), guys who were getting bigger because they were good (Obamagirl, the Internet Turk and anyone else), and the little guys (like Techfluff) could use the platform to product, distribute and be found.

But the mindset of the broadcasters was apparently to circle wagons and create an exclusive club. Not just a club for people in their own organisation but one which, gasp, allowed members of similar organisations in. (And anyone who knows British TV knows that nearly everyone one of those people had been paid for by the license fee at some point).

That is a model that might have worked in 1999 or 2003 but we have ample evidence that the crowd needs to be accomodated in some way shape or form.

The real opportunity that was lost with Kangaroo is that it wasn’t a public good created with all broadcasters/producers or viewers allowed equal access to it–and individually responsible for their own economics. And that Kangaroo didn’t facilitate the mashup of different models.

It is still possible because the iPlayer (paid for by us but not owned by us) is a superb technical platform and is a juicy fruit whose bounty can still be shared by all.

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