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For The Politically Impaired

By Rhizome

For anyone who has sat in airports, where televisions are unfailingly tuned to some 24-hour news broadcast, the blocks of text that allow you to read what you cannot hear should be pretty familiar. Closed Captioning (CC) translates television audio into readable text and has been in wide use in the United States since the mid-1990s, when the Federal Communications Commission began requiring broadcasters to support it. CC was designed to provide better access for the hearing impaired, but the crafty folks at Conglomco, a collective of artists and programmers, sees in it potential for disrupting the authority of broadcast media as well. Their hack, named 'Meta[CC],' made its debut during the 2004 US Presidential election, providing alternative information to the official news coverage. Building on the DIY ethic of information dissemination endemic to the blogging community, 'Meta[CC]' uses keywords and RSS feeds selected by registered users to match broadcast information with online sources, in real time. While the project is still in progress, it recently garnered the financial support of the Franklin Furnace Future of the Present Grant for 2006, so look for it to be coming to a television near you. - Ryan Griffis

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