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The first in the Silhouette series, highlighting some of the unsung heroes of the industry, takes a look at Tim Nolan…

Browser Based Entertainment

I try not to use the term Windows for a number of reasons. As much as I try to avoid any such relationship with the term I cannot avoid it entirely because the web browser in my opinion is really the one true "window" on the web.

The browser has made a huge leap since the NCSA Mosaic browser was introduced on Unix and Amiga then later on the MAC and Windows. The browser version 1.0 that hit the scene in 1993 was the original killer app and has since then catapulted itself to becoming the most widely used piece of software in the world.

Until recently the browser was commonly used as a means to simply look up web pages and surf for images and text. With the introduction of Flash information became more interactive and attractive. The past two years gave way to video on web as the front runner of media deployment and is gaining more and more momentum by the second.

Predictions that the once mighty media networks would soon be launching their shows online and treating the web with respect have all come true. It has become more and more common for people to spend the majority of their time at work and at home perusing the vast selection of video made available to them by sites like YouTube and other similar online destinations.

As humans we are meticulous in tracing back and documenting the very beginnings of where our cultural foundations took root. We spend valuable time and effort to go back and find that one miraculous spark in time that influenced the foundation of everything we do. The speed of our industry is so fast it accelerates even history itself.

A Pioneer in Video

I would like to spend this article documenting a website that I feel was not only a pioneer in the video on the web trend but continues to point us towards the future of how we will use our browsers for watching video.

http://www.spent2000.com

The site was an official registered domain that was started in August of 1997. “Prior to my purchase I had been using assorted free web-space (AOL, Bigfoot, Etc.) to host my early experiments into what I was calling “Browser-based Entertainment”. No matter what toolset I used or am currently using the primary focus was based around the idea that “content is King” I have since seen that statement pop up and fade away several times over the past decade.”

Tim Nolan. a.k.a. SPENT2000 is an artist/designer living in New York City. SPENT2000 was originally used as an alter ego in the early mid nineties during a period of intensive "guerilla art". After his introduction to the Internet in 1995, as a platform, the internet seemed to be the next logical step for this type of work. The combination of an aggressive online and offline presence lead many to credit Tim with a primitive upstart to viral marketing on the web.

(Related link: http://gerstmanandmeyers.com/careers_profile.asp?cr_id=80)

Today, Tim is a veteran web pioneer who like me dreamed of a new world with the web as its central nervous system. He is someone who truly understands the medium and his website is a testament to this philosophy. The site is an example of how his vision is properly executed, and it also displays his intimacy with an industry still being molded shaped by pioneers and visionaries like Tim.

Tim Nolan is best known for his pioneering work with Flash and video. He is currently the Studio Director of Firstborn Multimedia, a highly-awarded interactive shop in NYC, where he runs the "Live Action for Web" video production unit and contributes to all interactive projects the studio produces.

Tim's Vision

Tim’s vision went far beyond the expectations of technology at the time. “I assumed that people would want to be entertained through a combination of interactive and passive content. Just enough passive content to make it deliberate entertainment, and a dash of interactivity to put the viewer in the “driver’s seat” so to speak.”

His vision involved us rethinking how we utilized the browser.

“Early on I tried using JavaScript and other DHTML tactics to reformat, resize, and re-purpose the browser itself to become a canvas specific to the content I was distributing through it.” said Tim in reference to his early experiments. “I later began to see that modifying the content to the browser was the way to go, and not to re-format a the browser to fit my content. How rude I was… but back then it was (more) acceptable.”

This philosophy is termed "Browser Based Entertainment" (Related link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Browser-based_entertainment)

People had already started developing and playing games online, engaging in social interaction and creating other forms of entertainment, since the inception of the web. I remember ASCII art and simple games that provided hours of fun. What Tim understood in his early vision was that the browser was much more than just an interface, that it was a window that was both directly and purposefully tuned into alternative forms of entertainment.

It was a form that had more of an intrinsically artistic quality than anything else. He saw the browser in the form of an art installation, a new means of broadcasting a message to an audience that television couldn't even dream of assembling.

Tim’s vision was sci-fi in its proportions and in thought, completely attainable in its simplicity. This new method didn't involve altering the browser as some new technologies do, or require any special software; it simply involved thinking about and treating the browser differently.

Tim's Method

Tim’s method also redefined the means of how to create, edit and deploy content. It set new rules for how things were filmed, edited and compressed. It was a true convergence of all online media sources. It is content created in a way truly native to the web as opposed to mass compressed mainstream video being syndicated on yet another channel.

Some of Tim's early examples included reformatting both the length and perspective of classic and recognizable film that suited the nature of this new browser based entertainment method. In doing this, Tim allowed for a diverse number of people to immediately connect with and recognize the altered state rather than focus on trying to figure out what the content actually is.

The idea behind “THE OVERLOOK REVISITED” was to pull apart very short moments in time, and exploit them to the fullest. Tim’s intentions were to exploit every second for all of its entertainment value. By adding a layer of interactivity this was made possible. There is a subset of defined content, a randomized doorway, and then the user can decide how long her or she wished to be engaged by a particular installment. (Related Link: http://spent2000.com/covers/01.html)

By already being intimate with the content, the audience was now able to appreciate the altered format, it was the alteration that served as the entertainment.

A Decade of Spent2000

After ten long years of life on the web Spent2000 has seen a wide array of visitors and has put Tim in-touch with some pretty amazing people from all over the industry. It has given Tim the opportunity to travel and speak about his philosophy and methodologies on both a personal and professional level. “It has also made me some friends, and a living. I can only hope it lives on for another decade, acting as a mirror to myself and the society around it.”

Get spent at www.spent2000.com and soak up some of the history of the web.


About the Editor, Craig Elimeliah
Senior Executive Producer at Freedom + Partners

Craig Elimeliah has taken the leap from the advertising world at Firstborn, where he has produced many award winning projects for top agencies, to the academic world where he plans on applying his experience to set a new standard in education and student experiences. Craig masterminded the Silhouette series for FWA in March 2008.


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