Big Think, the “Intellectual YouTube” backed by ex-Harvard Prez Lawrence Summers, Launches with Style and Starpower

By on 01/11/2008 9:22 PM @beet_tv

Launched earlier this week, Big Think is a site with short video clips of leading thinkers in business and society. 

The New York based start-up, founded by former Charlie Rose producers Victoria Brown and Peter Hopkins, has been getting plenty of buzz this week from The New York Times, the Telegraph and TechCrunch.

Victoria stopped by the Beet.TV broadcast center yesterday to talk about the new venture.  (You can find the video here.)

The duo has raised a small amount of seed capital from former Harvard President Lawrence Summers, PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel and others.

The clips are highly stylized.  The producers use a method created by the great documentary maker Errol Morris, known to millions for his Academy Award opening show short film in 2002.  Watching the  Oscar film, you will see the Big Think look: The subject is in front of white background,  looking into the camera.  In Morris’ approach, interviewees see the interviewer on a TV screen in front of them, but reply to text question displayed before them.  The interviewer is not in the room.

For some subjects, this works brilliantly.  The interview with United States Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer is extraordinary (see below).  I would say it is historic in annals of start-up video ventures.  (Nice booking, by the way.)

For others who speak extemporaneously into the camera, the results can be flat.  The always ebullient  Sir Richard Branson might have given a better performance if he was speaking with an interviewer.

The format is similar to the Washington Post’s innovative onBeing series with "average" citizens interviewed by an unseen/unheard Jennifer Crandall.

Think Community

But the in-house produced product is not the only component of the offering.  Contributions are sought as text photo and videos.  Contributions/comments are called "Ideas."

There is an excellent video upload tool for registered users.  I uploaded  a .MOV file of a  Beet.TV clip about the roots of the mortgage crises featuring Dartmouth professor John Vogel, Jr.  The upload was fast and simple. The player is fine.  How cool is this: My post is prominently displayed in the business and finance channel

Victoria told me that the site will soon provide a live hook-up for contributors to use a mic and Webcam to generate live feeds from remote contributors around the globe.

Will this crowd really upload video? It may be that the the superstar power of the interviewees will be the attraction for others to to "join the club." Perhaps the scenario will be similar to the HuffingPost.

If Peter and Victoria are successful in generating thoughtful video uploads, they may well have a big success on their hands.  Stay tuned to this one. And watch Justice Breyer below. WOW

– Andy Plesser

Recent Videos
image
Xaxis Will Use More Private Marketplaces, Less RTB

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fl – Which way is the wind blowing in the “programmatic” ad space? Away from real-time bidding and toward private marketplaces, according to one leading light. The collection of techniques referred to as “programmatic” all essentially mean ...

image
Facebook to Surpass YouTube in Video Consumption: Unruly President Predicts

LAS VEGAS – “Social video” – videos which viewers opt in or opt out of watching – is expanding rapidly, says Richard Kosinski, president of Unruly. The company, which helps brands get their assets watched, tracked and shared across the internet, focuses especially on this category of ...

image
Tastemade Puts Brand Video On The Menu

LAS VEGAS – Tastemade, a food and travel publisher and community whose producers and users publish video reviews, has steadily built up over 350,000 video subscribers on its YouTube channel. Now it is hoping more brands will take an opportunity to leverage that audience. Programming head Oren Katzeff ...

David Schlanger, WebMD
WebMD’s Schlanger Writes An Original Video Prescription

LAS VEGAS — A just-announced new video series on health innovations presented by a TV news anchor will not be the only foray WebMD makes in to video this year. Earlier this month, the health publisher previewed “Future of Health with Robin Roberts”, a digital mini-series fronted by the ...

image
Using Data Creatively: BPN’s CEO

LAS VEGAS – At CES, the amount of new technology giving consumers control – of content, of time – is ever-present and growing. “We don’t lament the control of the consumer too much,” says Rob Kabus, Global CEO of BPN. “We think that’s a great thing because it’s ...

image
HBO, CBS and Sling TV Signify Real Movement to Multiscreen

LAS VEGAS – For years there’s been chatter about moving the video workflow to IP and multiscreen, but there’s finally a lot of real movement, says Mio Babic, President & CEO, iStreamPlanet. This noise is especially evident around the recent announcements by HBO, CBS and Sling TV about ...

518607688_1_648_367
TV Advertising will be Sold by “Impression” (eventually) Group M’s Irwin Gotlieb

LAS VEGAS — The way TV ads are bought and sold is about to look a lot more like the web – but the web will have to look like TV first, says the chairman of the world’s largest media investment agency. “Television is sold on a 30-second spot basis, while digital is sold on an ...

image
Connected TVs Are Richer Ad Environments: Brightline’s Aksman

LAS VEGAS — The burgeoning array of internet-connected TVs won’t change the industry just because they are connected to the internet – they also offer new ways to interact with content. “In an OTT (over-the-top) environment, it’s a more dynamic environment,” Rob Aksman, ...

image
Scripps Networks Keen on TV Everywhere in 2015

LAS VEGAS — TV Everywhere will be a key focus for Scripps in 2015, says Tamara Franklin, EVP of Digital at Scripps Networks Interactive  in an interview with Beet.TV at CES. “We are focused on the TV Everywhere initiative so this year you will see a lot with our portfolio to make sure consumer ...

image
More Brands Integrate Social Into Owned Web Sites for Campaigns

LAS VEGAS — As brands become publishers, their Web sites have become increasingly social media-centric, which helps drive cross-screen ads, says Mitchell Reichgut, CEO and founder of the Jun Group, a digital video ad services firm in an interview with Beet.TV at CES. More big advertisers are ...

image
Cisco Boxes Clever With New STB Technology

LAS VEGAS — Cisco used its visit to the Consumer Electronics Show to talk about new set-top box capabilities it is giving pay-TV operators. Company CTO Ken Morse, in this video interview with Beet.TV, talks about: Kabel Deutschland – A new box coming next year will meld live, on-demand, catch-up ...

image
15 Billion Video Devices By 2020: Ericsson

LAS VEGAS — Networks technology vendor Ericsson has a conception of the media world in five years’ time. “The Networked Society… our vision for the year 2020 – everything that can benefit from connection to the internet will indeed will be connected,” Ericsson content ...

loader