Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Web Video You’ll Want to Watch: Five “Digital Ellie” Finalists

Just like everything else on the Web, it’s exceptionally easy to make and distribute video. But making a good one? That’s one of the hardest tasks you can take on.

If you don’t believe me, see for yourself: Head over to any major Web publisher and try to watch more than 15 seconds of its clips. Tough odds.

So I have a lot of admiration for people who are figuring out how to do interesting stuff with Web video.

And I kept that in mind last month when I spent the day judging video entries for the “digital Ellies,” the online awards handed out by the American Society of Magazine Editors every year.

The new list of finalists is out now, and you can see some of them below.

The ASME folks have asked me not to talk about the specifics of our discussions (or to identify fellow judges), but I did want to make one note: All of those I worked with have to deal with the reality of Web economics in their day jobs. So we’re not oblivious to the fact that some of this stuff may not be a practical option for some Web publishers.

You’ll have a hard time selling ads against a 20-minute documentary on environmental destruction in West Virginia, for instance. But we also wanted people to see just how many options Web video offers if you think broadly about this stuff. And we also made a point of including some stuff that a publisher could conceivably use to generate dollars, like interviews with movie stars.

One big bummer: The majority of our finalists don’t allow embedding. So I can’t actually show you their stuff, and will have to settle for directing you to their sites. Apologies. The list of all the digital ASME finalists is here, and winners will be announced March 18.

Reason.tv: UPS vs. Fedex: Ultimate Whiteboard Remix

Oxford American: “SoLost” series

SoLost: Wayne White Goes Thrifting from Oxford American on Vimeo.

Yale Environment 360: Leveling Appalachia: The Legacy
of Mountaintop Removal Mining

National Geographic: Redwoods: The Super Trees

“T,” New York Times Style Magazine, Screen Test series


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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work