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PBS Launches First Web-Only Series

The nerds have arrived!

PBS debuted its downloadable technology program, Nerd TV, on Wednesday. The Internet-only show was posted on the PBS Web site (, where geeks and cool kids alike are encouraged to freely share the program—even across social circles.

Hosted by PBS tech columnist Robert X. Cringely, NerdTV will feature interviews with technology giants and put their achievements into context for a broad audience.

The guests are “the smartest, funniest and sometimes nerdiest people in high tech,” Cringely said in a statement. “These are people who have changed our lives, whether we know it or not.”

Original Macintosh programmer Andy Hertzfeld is featured on the debut episode. PBS and Cringely will produce 13 episodes in all, with a new show released each week.

Future guests include PayPal co-founder Max Levchin; Sun Microsystems co-founder Bill Joy; Apple Computer co-founder Steve Wozniak; TCP/IP inventor Bob Kahn; Amazon CTO and former Apple chief scientist Larry Tesler; Google CEO Eric Schmidt; and the “father of Linux,” Linus Torvalds.

NerdTV is distributed with a “creative commons” license that encourages non-commercial redistribution of intellectual property. PBS hopes users will not only download and enjoy the show, but post video and links on their own Web sites.

Users can download the whole program or two edited versions of the show: “juicy” (targeted at a general audience) and “nerdy” (for tech-savvy users).

Inexpensive Internet distribution could set a tone at PBS. “NerdTV offers a cost-effective production model that may transform how programming is made in the future,” said Cindy Johanson, senior vice president, PBS Interactive Learning.

In another web-savvy move, the public TV network has made podcasts of some of its broadcast programs available. (Podcasts are “portable” audio-only programs designed to be downloaded and listened to on a computer or portable MP3 player.)

Podcast shows include Nova, Now, NewsHour With Jim Lehrer, POV, Religion & Ethics Newsweekly, and the documentary The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow. Audio can be downloaded at the PBS Web site (