This is Vassar: The newsletter for Vassar College Alumnae/i and Families

Classic of Changes: TV on the Internet

With the recent explosion of digital media, and the flurry of handheld video devices, television is no longer tied to the living room couch. You can watch anything from Grey’s Anatomy to Martha Stewartonline, and shows created specifically for the Internet are starting to crop up everywhere. These shows range from professional network creations like QuarterLife to hand-drawn cartoons — and even a Vassar student production.

Maxwell Gold ’10 created the webseries Classic of Changes in his freshman year. The show is filmed at Vassar by Vassar students but takes place at Pencey Preparatory School, a fictional high school in the Hudson Valley. It stars Vassar students as the precocious boarding school students and has gathered quite a following on campus. The show puts a Vassar twist on teen television drama — the Miscellany News has called it “The O.C. of the V.C.

The show’s title Classic of Changes is a translation of  “I Ching,” the title of an ancient Chinese scripture, which provided the inspiration for the first season. Gold learned of the text in Professor Brian Van Norden’s philosophy class, and one of the show’s episodes features an adaptation of Professor Van Norden’s lectures. In the first season each episode is identified with a hexagram figure from the I Ching. “I used each one for each episode because they translated really well to Internet media,” says Gold, who describes the hexagrams as “bite-sized fortunes for bite-sized pieces of content.” In the second season each character is identified with a trigram figure from the I Ching.

Like most webseries, Classic of Changes is released in short episodes, five- to ten-minute segments, designed to be easily viewable on a cell phone or iPod. The show has spawned a blog and Facebook group, as well as Facebook profiles for each of the characters. “It's all about the interconnectedness,” says Gold, “and the premise of Classic of Changes is that interconnectedness is everything.” The online multimedia aspect offers the possibility of viewer interaction, not only with the show itself, but with other viewers, too. Fans can leave comments on characters’ Facebook walls or blog posts, or find new friends who share their interest in the show through Facebook groups and events. It’s not just about online interconnectedness, but the person-to-person connections of everyday life at Vassar, says Gold. “I have probably met all of my friends at Vassar through the process of making the show.”

September 2008

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