A Winning Idea: TV For And By The People

Ashoka Fellow Felipe Heusser wins Knight News Challenge Peepol.tv

This past week, Ashoka Fellow Felipe Heusser and Jeff Warren were named winners of The Knight Foundations News Challenge for a TV network built for the people, by the people. The two call it, PeepolTV.

The new idea

PeepolTV is a social network for live-streamed content. According to Heusser, a lot of what's happening around us isn't captured by a social network or video platform. "We want to make it fun and easier to post, find, and share live content on the web," says Heusser, who plans to use the prize money as startup capital, turning the idea into reality.

It's an ambitious project that one external reviewer called "a channel guide for the entire Internet," adding that "having a directory to find out what's live on the Web right now would be invaluable."

The driving force for PeepolTV will be it's geographical approach to video content, so you can see what's happening near you. At the presentation during Knight and MIT MediaLab's CivicMedia conference, Felipe Heusser showed a recent example of how live-streaming can profoundly change our perception of a given situation. The mainstream media coverage of the student protests in Chile was focused on riots and violence. To counter that image, Heusser and Warren tied mobile phones to balloons, capturing unseen footage of the protests — footage, that when put online, became a viral hit, getting play in the national media as well as in tens of thousands of households.

To Heusser, it was a sign that there was untapped potential around live-streaming.

Don't we already have enough video platforms?

Live-streaming isn't yet something everyone can do easily. Nor is it easy to find live-streams, let alone sort them according to place or subject. "Using PeepolTV, you can stream the concert you missed or watch a stream of the traffic jam ahead of you," Heusser said. "Right now, we only see live material because some editor decides we should see it. We want to democratize live content."

Heusser's dream is to make you the editor of what you are watching live, wherever you may be. 

Joining PeepolTV as winners of The Knight News Challenge around "Networks" were Signalnoi.se, Behavio, Recovers.org, The TOR Project, and Watchup.