It was CC Chapman who connected me with Holger Eilhard when I announced I was going to Germany.  Holger lives in Cologne (the city to which I would be traveling) and is part of CC’s Twitter network.  We made arrangements to meet.

Because we’re social media enthusiasts from different countries, Holger and I spent a fair bit of time discussing cultures, values and tools.  Specifically, we talked about the community that revolves around a G4-like television program Holger is an editor for at giga.de.  It’s a technology show with an active online community that started as far back as 1998.  The program uses forums, online comments and feedback to help guide the show — even during live broadcasts.

To giga.de, the Internet is just another channel to distribute the program (they also use satellite and digital cable).  The power of the Internet as a channel for Giga isn’t so much the reach it offers, but the fact that it is a bi-directional channel.  That key differentiator may have played a significant role in the survival of the program during a series of business decisions, network purchases and broadcast license transfers over the last several years — events that saw the relocation of the show and its productions team between three cities.

I was intrigued by the premium service package offered by Giga.  For a small cost, they offer video-on-demand and a few other small features. The truth is, though, the premium service is not in high demand and therefore represents a tiny revenue stream.

Holger offered some insight on why programs like G4 and giga.de appeal to people so much.  He suggests that the absence of a teleprompter means that the hosts must be more genuine, energetic and engaged.  They need to be real, not contrived, and people relate to people.

Social networking in Germany is still finding its legs.  Some of the more popular sites include: