MCTV plans digital future with Ilsley

MIDDLEBURY — Middlebury Community Television (MCTV) and Ilsley Public Library are becoming more and more aligned in seeking to not only distribute published content, but to help people create and distribute their own content.
“We’re looking to the future, and we’re seeing our missions converge more and more,” MCTV Executive Director Dick Thodal said following the Middlebury nonprofit’s annual meeting at the Ilsley Thursday night.
At the meeting, the MCTV board agreed to develop collaborations in educational program with the library — a fact made all the easier because the two are housed in the same building.
Ties between the library and the community television organization have already been strengthened. MCTV’s coordinator left recently, but Thodal said that Sarah Lawton, the Ilsley’s children’s librarian, has stepped in to teach some of the organization’s video classes.
Speaker Bryan Alexander, a Ripton resident and digital media and storytelling scholar, kicked off discussion of the future of MCTV by asking the near 20 MCTV board members and others in attendance, “Where do you watch TV?”
And while the answers at first were traditional — mostly “on the television set in my living room” — talk soon turned to the question of how to define television in an age when more and more people are turning to the computer for that service.
Alexander — a fellow with the National Institute for Technology in Liberal Education and chief blogger for the “Daily Riptonite” — said that with more and more people turning to the web, the push is not only to move media and information online. The public in general doesn’t just want to see content anymore. People look up information about shows or movies they’re watching or share videos and information on Facebook or Twitter.
“Now, we want to actually do something with content,” said Alexander.
It’s not just interaction, either: One scroll through the many videos of YouTube shows that people are creating their own media with phones and cameras in ways that were never possible in the past.
“We love making content,” said Alexander.
As the cost of technology drops, Alexander said, there’s an opening for putting more funds into educational programs that teach people how to make good media.
That’s an idea that Thodal said has been a prominent one for some time.
Suggestions for the future of the library-MCTV collaboration were many: working to archive media, filtering the flow of media from a local angle, building the organization’s role as a community center and training resource, and simply continuing television programming for the time being to serve those who do watch it.
The possibilities were wide-ranging, but Alexander reminded the crowd that there was one guiding tenet of the organization.
“I don’t think you can go too wrong if you stay focused on the community,” said Alexander.
Reporter Andrea Suozzo is at [email protected].

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