Officially launched in Jue 2007, the creators of Friction TV, Omar Sheikh, former head of Saatchi and Saatchi interactive, and PR consultant Andy West, want to “own” online debate. This UK-based site was brought to being with the intention of bringing the power of Speaker’s Corner – an area of Hyde Park, London dedicated public speakers and free speech – to the internet.   A place for serious debate, as opposed to “reasonably trivial” issues that the site’s creators find discussed on MySpace and YouTube,  Friction provides a space where debates are collected and ordered.

Users upload videos, ranging from thirty seconds to three minutes with their point of view on any issue. Others can respond to the topic with video or text rebuttals of their own, all collected in a single space to stimulate more converastion. The site intends to leap across the pond, bringing Americans to the same place where Britons now state their points of view on any and all debate-sparking issues.

Imagine Friction as your virtual soapbox, where you can state your opinion on anything, from a well-reasoned argument to a heated rant recorded at four in the morning. In fact, you are prompted to think of a controversial title (i.e. “Feeding your children meat is child abuse“).  On the main page, hot debates and fresh debates are daily refreshed and serve as insight into what issues are enlivening the most exchanges. These vary wildly from discussion of a Straight Pride March to Illegal Immigration.

The site is  broken into channels: politics, health, local issues, and more, in order to give some structure to what might otherwise be a chaotic scramble of voices. Given the site’s origins and despite pushes to make the conversational more multi-cultural, a good deal of the users are British.  In a strange sidebar, one man, a weathered-looking hippie known as Lord Tramp, is been given his own channel, and expresses his opinions in poem-form. Sometimes, as in his take on the hypocrisy of religion, he halfway forgets the words.

The site hopes you will submit videos to spark debate and video responses to continue them. These require membership sign-in and registration. After an initial video debate, it seems most users respond via text messages, anonymous or otherwise. Since there is a policy of limited censorship – this being a website devoted to free speech and open debate – things can turn a little salty. But offensive or particularly hateful content is usually quickly removed.

The Five News channel serves up the best of Friction TV. This channel is a collaboration with Five News TV, a website with user-created news stories. Here we find personal views on topical news stories ranging from kids being too old for Harry Potter, the legitimacy of Scientology and the  possible exploitation  of Teenage Models.

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