Looking to “own” the online debate space, U.K.-based Friction.tv has jumped the pond to try to re-enfranchise Americans feeling their First Amendment rights are being neglected. Framing comment and video response threads as political conversations, the site encourages you “upload your video and spark the debate.”
As you can see from the promo video (embedded above) the inflammatory and controversial are the bread and butter of Friction.tv. Righteous rhetoric and political punditry abound, while logic and cogency are lacking. The site plans an official U.S. launch after Labor Day.
Friction.tv has a cool-looking Banksy-graffiti motif and breaks the “debates” (or video/comment threads) down into a variety of “Friction Channels” (Politics, Environment, Sport, etc.). There’s also a useful “Hot Debates” section that shows you the most viewed debates.
The site presents the comment and video response threads in the most intelligible way I’ve seen so far, clearly listing all videos and comments together, which is critical to the site’s hope of facilitating dialog. Prominently placed next to each video are two “Fire back” buttons allowing for a quick video or written rebuttal. The embeds lack any extras and, like the original videos, are strangely framed by a rounded rhomboid (as seen in the embed below).
Friction.tv is trying to set up custom channels for groups such as Save the Internet, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Stop Big Media and the Human Rights Campaign, according to Chris Knight, Friction’s U.S. Communications Director. Knight also told us that in the UK Friction.tv has set up partnerships with Al Jazeera and Channel Five, which could definitely lead to some interesting discussions.
While most of the videos are simple one-take ranting heads (mostly produced by Friction’s “assisted user-generated” videographer teams), yet-to-be-seen partnerships with special interest groups could yield actually productive dialog. Thus far Friction.tv’s signal-to-noise ratio isn’t very good but we’ll definitely be keeping an eye on it (and do check out “Lord Tramp’s” poetic taxi musings).