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Fast Foreword: The Editor's Column, September-October 2007

By Tom White

Dear Readers,

With digital delivery systems expanding at warp speed, it's been challenging for us, a bi-monthly print publication, to keep up with the daily launches of user-generated-content sites. And now, with the recent intro of the iPhone to Harry Potter-worthy throngs, the Web 2.0 universe may be moving into Web 3.0.

In this issue, we check in again about the opportunities and implications of this e-terrain. Thomas Rigler, himself an aficionado of the broadband jungle, speculates on where this is all going, and what this all means. And where there's content, there's the ever-tricky consideration of rights and ownership. American University's Center for Social Media and Washington College of Law recently published The Good, the Bad and the Confusing: User-Generated Video Creators on Copyright, a study about this very topic. The Center's Pat Aufderheide shares a precis of the study here. With its communal underpinnings, the digiverse has also opened up questions of authorship in documentary work. DocAgora, the Canada-based nonprofit marketplace for discussion about the documentary community's engagement with the digital world, recently presented a debate at Hot Docs. Marc Glassman reports.

The Web 2.0 world of course opens up ingenious ways to hybridize the old and the new. Wholphin and GOOD are magazines in spirit, but the two ventures embrace Web and DVD platforms as intrinsic components to their respective missions. Danielle DiGiacomo talks to some of the key instigators at Wholphin and GOOD about their far-thinking strategies to get docs and other genres out there.

To bridge to the other theme of this issue--call it Green 2.0--we've just witnessed Live Earth, the global Web-and-TV extravanganza created to promulgate the perils of global warming and offer up solutions to preserve our planet. A number of Green initiatives have proliferated the Internet for a while, and one of the more progressive of these has been, which also worked with Sundance Channel to launch The Green, the channel's Web/cable hybrid devoted entirely to environmentally conscious programming. Discovery Communications and National Geographic also have their Green projects in the works--respectively, Planet Green and Preserve Our Planet. Christopher Bosen checks out these endeavors.

Two films coming out this year--Leila Conners Petersen and Nadia Conners' The 11th Hour and Judith Helfand and Daniel Gold's Everything's Cool--tackle the issue of global warming in different ways. The 11th Hour gathers together some of the greatest minds to expound upon how we got to where we are, while Helfand and Gold document the challenges that many prominent activists have faced in putting the global warming issue at the forefront. We talk with the respective filmmakers about their goals for their films.

Finally, 2007 marks the centenary of Rachel Carson, arguably the mother of the environmental activist movement. It is her writings and her spirit that drive Ribbons of Sand, filmmaker John Grabowska's latest work, on the erosion of barrier islands.


Yours in actuality,

Thomas White