Justin Kownacki released the first episode of his fictional web series Something to Be Desired (Tilzy.TV page) – focusing on the lives of Pittsburgh’s post-college and (sexually) frustrated WANT FM crew – way back in the summer of 2003. Before YouTube, he had video on the web, and when the term “interactive” was first being applied en masse to internet television, he had long since solicited story ideas from fans and allowed the show’s stars to communicate with the audience through in-character blogs.

In internet years, the show is ancient. But it’s still almost a decade younger than The Spot.

An online, interactive answer to Melrose Place, The Spot premiered on computer screens in 1995 and was “the first interactive, episodic series on the worldwide system of computers known as ‘the Internet.’”

Created by the then aspiring New York filmmaker Scott Zakarin, The Spot features the lives of five young, attractive housemates living together in Santa Monica, CA. The series offered fans such innovative elements as a website that gave them “the chance to read whatever stories they want and to talk by computer with their favorite characters through electronic messages known as ‘e-mail.’” Before shutting down in 1997, the show had a moderately successful two-year run.

At times it seems like the online video space is awash with innovation, the likes of which have never before been seen! Of course the space is full of an ever-increasing amount of financial backing and more creative, talented people every day, but it’s interesting to stumble upon someone that was nearly a decade ahead of the curve.

What’s Zakarin up to now? Creating new media of course. His Iron Sink Media production company is responsible for such online series as Live Video’s Soup of the Day and NoHo Girls.

Thanks to Steve Bryant at ReelPopBlog for pointing out this forgotten gem.

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