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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Hanten Launches "South Dakota Online" -- Who Needs TV?

First blogs beat up the newspapers; will Web TV kill KELO next?

Yankton 'Net maven Ben Hanten is busy innovating again. Yesterday marked the relaunch of SouthDakota123.com. In 2005*, Hanten created SouthDakota123.com. He took a swing at creating an aggregation service dedicated to South Dakota blogs, back when collecting blog content was a real technological challenge. As Hanten notes, blog aggregation is now so easy nearly anyone can do it. So he is reinventing SD123 as a platform for South Dakota Online, a weekly live video broadcast dedicated to highlighting all the interesting things happening in South Dakota's subsphere of the World Wide Web—blogs, YouTube, everything! The program is currently scheduled for every Wednesday from 3 to 4 p.m. Central.

His inaugural webcast beamed out from the basement of Ben's Brewing Company in beautiful downtown Yankton yesterday. How'd it go?

Contentwise, Ben's first broadcast was an enjoyable tour through the South Dakota Web. The program offered a brief discussion of Chris Nelson's mustache and the photo fracas between Dakota War College and Badlands Blue, an interview with SouthDacola's Scott Ehrisman, and notes on John Meyer's Twins MVB and John and Scott Meyer's ThePostSD.com and its potential to serve as the new alternative media in South Dakota. Hanten then featured some local videos from a Rapid City tattoo convention and what I might describe as a weird white-kids' mutation of the old Sun Dance ritual, as well as a couple comedy videos.

Techwise, South Dakota Online still looks plenty rough, but no rougher than one would expect from a live program hosted and produced by one man. If Hanten looks a little distracted during the Webcast, it's because he's keeping a lot of plates spinning. To run his live Webcast, Hanten is running his computer, a video camera, a screen capture program that allows him to switch from the camera to what's happening on his screen, and a phone connection that pipes calls onto the broadcast audio (eventually to be complemented by a Skype connection). He's monitoring his e-mail and Twitter to get messages from viewers and incorporate them into the show.

In my own classroom, I get distracted just trying to switch between my slideshow and webpage demos while trying to answer student questions and stick with my lecture notes. Hanten is trying to do twice as much in front of a live audience that he can't see. That's an enormous communications challenge. Bringing another person into the studio would be an enormous boon for the show. Hanten could concentrate on the content and presentation while a separate producer could man the video feeds. That added hand could troubleshoot problems (like those cantankerous YouTube videos not displaying) while Hanten does some good hostly improv to keep the show moving.

But I'm sure doubling the production staff is already on Ben's wishlist. Right now, he's making another admirable leap out onto the high-tech highwire. If the program catches on, it could become part of a new wave in South Dakota entertainment and culture, providing an outlet for creative expression that no other medium (and certainly not the corporate media) will provide. Keep at it, Ben!

If you missed it, the first episode is available any time you want to watch. Ah, the joys of the Web! When online stuff doesn't work the first time, you just go back and fix it: Hanten includes the feature YouTube videos that didn't beam out right during the live show. (Watch those kids swinging from the hooks in their shoulders—yeeessshhh!)

*Clarification from Ben himself—sorry about the misstatement, Ben!

p.s.: I don't say nice things about people just because they say nice things about me. But I thank both Ben Hanten his guest Scott Ehrisman for their kind words about the Madville Times during their conversation on South Dakota Online's inaugural broadcast yesterday:

Madville Times is probably our South Dakota 'Left' blog... Cory's probably the guy if you really want to go and read about Democrats and liberals and the Left in South Dakota he'd be the guy to read, that would be the website to get the actual political news [Scott Ehrisman].

Cory's for sure a thinker. He's putting a little thought into what he writes. A lot of times he's going off of studies or other research, so Cory's is probably a little bit more of an academic blog [Ben Hanten, interview, South Dakota Online, 2009.10.14].

Thank you, gents! And thank you, South Dakota, for supporting intelligent online conversation.


  1. Hey Cory,

    Thanks for the story. The first show was basically an experiment to see how the technology works.... There are definitely things to work on.

    Just a point of clarification, South Dakota 123 first launched in early 2005. At that time, true blog aggregation was very difficult and it took a lot of programming.

  2. Thanks, Ben! Edit made! (Also, my apologies for pretty poor typing. Either my keyboard is wearing out, or my fingers are losing their touch.)


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