Once upon a time there was a clever, beautiful woman called Amanda Congdon, and a clever, media-savvy man called Andrew Baron. Together they made a website, and it was good.
The website was called Rocketboom (www.rocketboom.com), and it was a "vlog" or "videoblog". It featured Amanda sitting in front of a world atlas, spouting whatever took her fancy about any issues of the day.
It was anti-news. It was usually quite funny. It was two or three minutes of something ‘different’ every day, and it rapidly became insanely popular.
Hundreds of thousands of people became daily viewers. They posted comments after each day’s show, they got to know each other through the comments, they became a little community in their own right.
And in the meantime, Rocketboom boomed. It got distribution deals with the iTunes Music Store, it was approached by TV companies, and its audience grew ever larger.
Work started on separate web video products, such as the science-for-schoolchildren show Jet Set Show. Everything looked so good for the Rocketboomers.
Then one Monday a few months ago, Rocketboom suddenly announced a week of "guest slots" with no sign of Amanda. No-one considered this a problem to start with - this was exactly the kind of innovation that kept Rocketboom fresh. And anyway, even vloggers need holidays.
But Amanda wasn’t on holiday. A week later, she appeared in a video of her own, on a site of her own, explaining bitterly to her audience that her production partner wasn’t interested in working with her anymore, and that she’d been "unboomed".
The web practically caught fire with this news. Amanda and Andrew? Arguing over Rocketboom? Wha? The gossip sites went crazy.
Within days, Andrew hit back with his own comments. He’d not fired Amanda, he said; the first he knew of her leaving the show was the bitter video message she’d posted online. He was as surprised as anyone.
Amanda responded by publishing on her site private email exchanges between herself and Andrew. Rather than clearing everything up neatly, they just made the mess a little muddier. Oh dear, oh dear.
Fast forward a little bit. Rocketboom is not dead. Andrew installed a new presenter, Joanne Colan. She’s very English, very different to Amanda Congdon, and so far a big hit with the Rocketboom audience.
It’s hard to say exactly what happened between Amanda Congdon and Andrew Baron, but her sudden departure from the show briefly filled the web with unhelpful and far-from-supportive comments: a lot of people thought that if there was no Amanda, there was no Rocketboom.
And that simply isn’t the case. Joanne Colan’s doing a great job, thousands of people still tune in to see the latest Rocketboom every weekday, and advertisers are still queueing up to get their products featured on the site.
Why does this matter? Because this is what telly means for the younger generation. Terrestrial TV, even if it’s digital, is old school. Online video like Rocketboom and YouTube (www.youtube.com) and dozens of sites like them are where people are going for their entertainment, even for their news.
Years from now, Rocketboom will be remembered in the same whispy half-remembered tone that people use when they talk about Muffin the Mule or Watch with Mother in the early days of TV. It was there from the start.
Oh, and Amanda Congdon? She’s doing OK too. Last anyone heard, she was driving across America (www.amandaacrossamerica.com). Just because.
* Giles Turnbull has a website at www.gilest.org