Cameron Parkins, August 4th, 2008
Epic Fu is a web-based show that focuses on “the coolest art, tech, and music from the online and offline world”. Formerly known as JETSET, Epic Fu is the brainchild of Zadi Diaz and Steve Woolf – they post new episodes every Tuesday and Thursday released under a CC BY-NC-SA license. We recently caught up with both to learn more about Epic FU as an entity, the importance of their user community, and why they chose to use CC.
Can you give our readers a bit of a background on Epic Fu? How did it begin? What kind of topics do you focus on?
EPIC FU began as Jet Set Show on June 1, 2006. When we first launched the show was targeted for much younger viewers, and it was more of a variety show with sketches, interviews, and mashups. One of our main goals was to have the audience interacting with us and contributing to the show as much as possible, and as time went on we realized that the people who were making media on the web were older. Over a couple of months we changed the content of the show to appeal to an older audience, and in the Fall of 2006 we tweaked our name to JETSET. At that time we started shooting Zadi at her desk, and we started making direct calls to action to the audience which resulted in several successful collaborations with viewers.
In the Fall of 2007 we changed the name of the show from JETSET to EPIC FU because we needed a name that we could fully own, in every sense of the word. That change really helped solidify our identity and the perspective we were trying to bring the the news and artists we talk about.
The topics we are most interested in involve individuals, artists, and groups who are using technology and the web to define a new idea of what it means to collaborate with each other and distribute their ideas globally. Especially if it’s something that flies in the face of old ways of thinking. That’s what the web is: the new underground culture. EPIC FU, after all, is about the EPIC “Eff You” (even though we pronounce it FOO).
This is sometimes light news, such as the teenagers in England who were organizing Facebook-dipping flash mob pool parties using Google Earth and Facebook. Sometimes it’s serious businesspeople bringing innovation into enormous established industries like Elon Musk of Tesla Motors. Many times its music artists like Jonathan Coulton, who uses the web to have direct contact with his audience, and literary artists like Scott Sigler, who used the web to build an audience of fans before one of his books ever hit the shelves. All of these things have been on the show in recent weeks.
Creative Commons is a perfect example of what we would feature as a FU of the Week. A bold new definition of what copyright means for modern content creators that challenges the logic and viability of traditional ways of thinking.
Epic Fu’s user base is both active and vibrant. How important is the community to Epic Fu? How does this community help the show?
EPIC FU would not exist without its community. If we were to take that component out of the show it would basically be a low-budget television show for the web. It might be fun, it might be entertaining, but it would not be wholly different from many other offerings out there. But thankfully we do have our community behind us making contributions to literally every show. This happens on MIX (mix.epicfu.com), it happens on YouTube, and it is beginning to happen on the Revision3 forums for the show.
Not only do our viewers send us links and show ideas, they make their own media and they contribute to text and video discussions. Whenever possible we bubble that stuff up onto the show for everyone to see. We have an amazingly talented and passionate group of people on MIX — artists, musicians, filmmakers, you name it.
You release all of your episodes under a CC license. Why did you decided to do this? What kind of results has this decision yielded?
From the very beginning we’ve always believed in Creative Commons. For one thing, the amount of media we have in each show makes traditional copyright useless to us as content creators. The process of gathering clips, photos, and sound bites makes the relevance of CC licenses incredibly apparent on a daily basis.
As far as releasing our own shows under a CC license, we’ve always felt that if we use media from other CC-licensed sources and don’t subsequently enable others to use the original media that we create, we’re not fulfilling our obligations to share alike under the source CC license.
This makes it possible for fans to make mashups from the show footage. One great example was the video Patrick from the Netherlands created for us at the end of last year. He made a montage of Zadi that we featured on our blog. When someone takes that much time to create something original by pouring through all the video we’ve made, you realize how important it is to make sure that your media can travel far and wide and get into the hands of creative people. CC is probably the single most important thing allowing that to happen on the web.
What’s up next for Epic Fu?
We’re about two months into our new licensing partnership with the good folks at Revision3, so we’re now making two shows a week and ramping up the Smashface production staff to keep up the level of quality and diversity viewers have come to expect from the show.
The near-term plan is to start showing regular recurring EPIC FU segments in a few specific topical areas such as politics, sex and relationships, environment, and style. The long-term plan is to see how those segments might be spun into EPIC FU-branded shows that follow the same format — fast-paced, entertaining, and focused on the perspective of how the issues on that show are affected by the web and technology.