These days, innovations in media spring most often from Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), Yahoo! (NASDAQ:YHOO), MySpace, and other dot-coms. But old media still has some mojo. Take PBS, which is pushing the boundaries of user-generated content.

If you click over to on New Year's Day, you can catch the pilots for three proposed television shows: Wired Science, based on Wired magazine; Science Investigator, which scrutinizes mysteries such as DNA; and 22nd Century, a look at what life may be like 100 years from now. Viewers can either stream the videos from the PBS site or download the programs as a podcast to Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iTunes. On Jan. 3, the three pilots will be broadcast on television.

OK, what's the hook? Well, after you watch the shows, you can provide your feedback. The winner will become a new 10-week series this fall.

The process isn't completely democratic. PBS will rely on other research -- hey, the company still needs to produce content that will make money, right?

When I asked Greg Kostello, CEO of the online video site vMix, about PBS's move, he said: "The decision by PBS to air the show ahead of time makes perfect sense, especially given their format and audience. There is probably a strong correlation between a science show that encourages audience participation and those that have broadband access and are comfortable viewing videos online."

As the competition drives users to the PBS site, those users might also look at other content from PBS' rich library.

"This may also hint at a more subtle trend in the Web programming category," said Chase Norlin, CEO of online video company Pixsy. "In a sense, the Web becomes the promotional tool for releasing media programming on a larger scale before a theatrical or TV launch."

On the other hand, will too much input from the community actually stifle creativity? After all, the likes of Michael Crichton or Steven Spielberg seem to do very well without input from thousands of online users.

Whatever the outcome, PBS is definitely doing something innovative -- and new media would be wise to pay attention.

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Fool contributor Tom Taulli does not own shares mentioned in this article. He is ranked No. 758 out of 17,523 players in Motley Fool CAPS.