Ryeberg Curated Video offers alternative to ignorant Internet commenting
// Niggie Purrahnama

From YouTube to Vimeo, it’s pretty common that the dialogue on these popular video sites is usually idiotic and ignorant. Erik Rutherford, however, has created an online magazine that allows intelligent and thoughtful pieces of writing related to specific online videos, called Ryeberg Curated Video.

On Mar. 6, Rutherford flew in from Toronto to the Waldorf Hotel in Vancouver to share and promote this website. He brought in four well-established Canadian authors: Miriam Toews, Charles Demers, Micheal Turner, and Stephen Osborne. They each shared one or more video clips that they found inspirational, and supplemented them with a short stories, narration, or humorous commentary. Everyone went home with free issue of this month’s Geist magazine, which one of the presenters, Stephen Osborne, founded.

The event attracted primarily a middle-aged demographic, with some young adults were scattered throughout the venue. Most said that the reason why they had come to the event was because their wife or husband had heard about the event on CBC and thought it would be a good idea to go and check out. Others were there as fans of the authors, and were excited to hear them speak and share something personal. One person, however, said that they came “to learn about online videos, and find out from an intelligent standpoint what can be taken from them,” something that Rutherford would have been proud to hear directly from a patron’s mouth.

The show may have started 40 minutes late due to technical issues, but as soon as it began, the feeling of impatience that lingered amongst the audience was drowned by the introductory clip. The lights went dim and the audience was surrounded by the soulful voice of American R&B singer Brook Benton singing “Mother Nature, Father Time” in a 1965 music video, while bikini-clad women danced provocatively – or what might have been called provocative at that time - in the background. Shortly after the video, one of the first authors took the stage.

Mirian Toews presented a clip that portrayed the difficult life of a mute. In introducing the clip, she explained that her sister had gone through phases where she would not be able to talk. Although everyone in the family knew that her sister could speak, the phases were apparently involuntary. When she had gone to a therapist, however, a month before passing away, the therapist saw her inability to speak as a sign of being stubborn and refused to help her.

The second author was Charles Dermers, whose clips were a compilation of people posting what they would do in a “SHTF” (Shit Hit The Fan) moment, an analogy for when the world is coming to an end and in complete chaos. His commentary between clips was hilarious and very eye-opening. He wanted to show the audience what some people thought were “necessary precautions” if there was a large-scale disaster like the supposed millennium catastrophe, Y2K.

The third author was Michael Turner, who shared the evolution of the Frisbee through its advertisements. He shared the thoughts that had come to him while looking through the different time periods and noted that when the Frisbee had first come to be, it was intended to bring families close together, and then evolved into a way for young adults to play with one another and socialize on the beach. The very last video that he shared with the audience was a 2007 ad for an African cell phone company that used the Frisbee as a way to show the network between people constantly connected but never really seeing one another.

The fourth author was Stephen Osborne, who showcased a 1902 clip of Vancouver from the viewpoint of one of the trolleys used for public transportation at the time. During the video, he read out numerous stories to do with life in Vancouver at that time that he had collected out of old newspapers.

In a way, the setup of the event mimicked the experience of sitting around a computer with a group of friends watching videos, and Rutherford says that this is exactly what he is trying to do: “[I'm] really happy to be doing a presentation where everyone is around to watch and discuss their thoughts about it afterwards.”

Ryeberg, in both its online and live incarnations, creates a space where watching cat videos on Youtube is more than just a diversion – it’s a form of cultural participation.

//Niggie Purrahnama, writer
//Graphics by Chris Dedinsky

Enjoy it? Share this on Facebook


© 2011 The Capilano Courier. phone: 604.984.4949 fax: 604.984.1787 email: