Turning geeks into gods: reality TV lifts the lid on technology start-ups
Philip Ellison 22 October, 2012 at 03:10
For a number of years now, the world has admired and envied the lives of the lucky elite working in the glamorous spheres of fashion and entertainment via staged soaps like The Hills and competitive reality shows like Project Runway. Now it’s the movers and shakers in the world of technology who are set to inspire and annoy us in equal measure, with two new forthcoming TV shows shining the spotlight on the behind the scenes work of engineers and developers.
“Geeks are definitely the new rock stars,” we are told by Hermione Way, one of the cast members of Start-Ups: Silicon Valley, a glossy docu-soap about six young entrepreneurs chasing their dreams in, you guessed it, Silicon Valley. The show’s promotional clips certainly make it look higher brow than some of its reality TV peers, as the stars actually appear to take their work seriously (Jersey Shore, I’m looking at you), but there is still a conspicuous amount of crying, partying and drama for a show that purports to be about a notoriously competitive and work-obsessed field.
It will be interesting to see just how much footage is dedicated to hard graft. The blood, sweat and tears that go into the early days of a start-up have already been fictionalised in the popular comedy web-series Leap Year, now in its second season, which features cameo appearances from a number of high profile, real life entrepreneurs (not to mention cult television actress Eliza Dushku). Still, while viewers will have to wait to make up their minds about the verisimilitude of Start-Ups: Silicon Valley (it doesn’t premiere on Bravo until November), the programme does at least have some decent credentials, with Facebook’s former marketing director Randi Zuckerberg listed as executive producer.
Also coming to screens sometime next year is Objective-Sea, a game show which whisks 25 people to a desert island, splits them into teams, and sets them the challenge of creating a mobile phone app using only an iPhone, iPad and one single laptop. Taking its title from the programming language Objective-C, the show will explore the popular notion that “everyone has an idea for an app”.
The project’s creator, app developer Craig Lockwood, is eager to ensure focus stays on the technology and innovation aspects of the show, and avoid sensationalist reality TV tropes – catfights and evictions are officially verboten. Speaking to Fast Company, Lockwood said; “We have shows for everyone, from chefs to gardeners, that spawn mini celebrities who become really approachable…it’s time developers and engineers are shown in a different light.” Lockwood intends for all five teams’ apps to make their way to the App Store, with the developers themselves retaining all intellectual property rights.
There’s nothing like media exposure to make something trendy. You never know; between the docu-soap, web-series and game show, viewers may actually gain some valuable insight into what it takes to create a product and found a company, and decide to try it for themselves. There’s a lot to be said for instilling a little ambition into your audience, rather than simply dosing them up on irritation and lifestyle envy, The Hills-style.