Perhaps it was one too many screenings at last month's TV critics' junket in California, but TIME television writer James Poniewozik decided to eschew TV network coverage of the Republican National Convention in favor of the Internet. Attracted by its wacky name and its promise of 360-degree manipulatable cameras and self-serve audio feeds, he chose Pseudo.com as his web provider of choice. Here's a diary.
8:30 p.m. Visit Pseudo.com site. Am prompted for a username (for use in the chat section) and e-mail address. Reflect on the fact that my television does not ask for a means of getting in touch with me before allowing me access to sound and audio. Enter "firstname.lastname@example.org."
8:32 p.m. Reach webcast site. Site informs me that I am missing a RealAudio plug-in needed to view video.
8:33 p.m. RealAudio web site informs me that it can find no plug-in of the type reqested.
8:35 p.m. Read Pseudo.com help section. Recommends that if I have RealPlayer (I do) and still can't play video, I download and reinstall the latest version.
8:38 p.m. Provide more personal information to RealAudio.
8:39-9:20 p.m. Download RealPlayer 8 over home modem connection. Meanwhile, pour glass of wine and turn on TV. Watch Doris Kearns Goodwin tell touching anecdote about the dejected Lyndon Baines Johnson being unable to attend the 1968 Democratic convention. Feel heretofore unfelt connection with LBJ. Decide that Doris Kearns Goodwin is one special lady.
9:22 p.m. Revisit Pseudo.com site.
9:24 p.m. Am still "missing plug-in."
9:25 p.m. Put iBook to sleep. Pour second glass of wine.
9:26-11:10 p.m. Flip channels. The leader of an educational group espousing Republican educational platform is introduced to the cheery strains of Sam Cooke's "Wonderful World" ("Don't know much about history...")
11:30 p.m. Go to bed and dream dreams of Doris Kearns Goodwin.
9:55 a.m. Start afresh at work.
9:56 a.m. Success! Access feed from "Pseudo SkyBox." Am able to pan, 360 degrees, around an equipment-filled room that is apparently entirely submerged in water.
9:57 a.m. Still spinning camera around.
9:58 a.m. It spins around and around and around! WHEE!
10:02 a.m. Select an audio feed. Discover that I can't play video and audio at the same time.
10:05 a.m. Try new audio feed. Almost inaudible, but at full volume has a seductive, murmur-like sound, as though I am picking up the faint echoes of a political convention somewhere in the afterworld.
10:08 a.m. Another audio feed, this time entirely silent.
10:10 a.m. Return to work, forgetting that RealPlayer is on.
12:35 p.m. Audio feed suddenly begins blaring at full blast while I'm doing a phone interview. Clumsily shut RealPlayer off.
5:34 p.m. Down time. Return to Pseudo.com site.
5:35-5:40 p.m. Experience several of aforementioned problems. Reflect on fact that the World Wide Web is, after all, a medium essentially devoted to text. That I don't really need a functioning, controllable live camera in the middle of a convention hall to become a better-informed voter. That the web sites of candidates and parties and news organizations offer articles and statements and position papers thousands of them! that I could visit right now, without needing any special plug-ins, and read to my heart's content about the issues facing the electorate in the first presidential election of the 21st century.
5:41 p.m. The camera spins around and around and around! WHEE!