It’s worth a look if you are interested in the intersection of human rights, mobile technology and citizen media. It’s an open source Android project too!
Some time ago, I cut the cord.. disconnected from cable. Some time after that, I got rid of the antenna as well.
I still watch television content, just not over the air or via cable; rather with a Mac Mini hooked up to my TV via the internet.
For the most part this works out just fine. I have no lack of video available due to a Netflix plan for both DVD and streaming (I use the streaming service waaaaaaaaay more than the DVD service), Hulu, ABC.com and NBC.com streaming, video podcasts and BitTorrent. (I am by no means alone, many people I know have a similar setup.)
The one part that doesn’t work out so well is when I want to watch a live televised event. TV it turns out is a pretty good medium for dissemination of live events. It is on these occasions that I generally miss having cable or an antenna hooked up to my TV.
Specifically during the last election I had a hard time watching the returns come in via streaming stations, during the last Superbowl I actually ran a long coax cable out to my yard hooked up to an antenna to watch the commercials.
Last week, I decided that I wanted to watch some of the baseball playoffs (this week it is the World Series). Being able to go out and watch the game at a bar is an option, I did so the first night but I can’t do that for every game. For the next game, I decided that I would try to watch it live online.
I noticed at first that the MLB did have some kind of streaming service but I wasn’t ready to plop almost $30 for a subscription..
Instead, I checked for the game on Justin.TV and UStream. Unsurprisingly, it was there (and a lot of people were watching). MLB it seems doesn’t have the resources to shut down (through DMCA takedown notices) pirate streams very quickly. I loved the chat room on the one that I was watching. It was a bit like being at a bar but actually talking when I liked and ignoring when I didn’t (which is a bit hard when the drunk next to you decides to talk to you in a bar).
The best version I found was a stream of an ESPN broadcast from India. I was watching the game with people from all over the US and the world. It was fun, people were chatting, talking about where they are from, which teams they like and so on. It was also kind of fun to watch the commercials from India especially since I didn’t know what half of the products/companies were. The quality of the stream wasn’t that great, it stuttered at times, it was pixelated, definitely wasn’t good enough to watch full screen and so on..
Unfortunately, being the internet, the chat at times would turn ugly. The trolls showed unfortunately showed up and did everything possible to incite anger in those there to simply watch and talk about the game.
Shortly after that, the stream was shut down due to a DMCA takedown.
This seemed pretty ridiculous to me. The broadcast I was watching was a low quality version of what was already on TV. The commercials were in place, MLB or Fox wasn’t paying for the bandwidth and so on. It was just opening up the game to an audience that couldn’t ordinarily watch it on TV due to where they live or not having a television available. I do understand copyright and the law and I know that this is illegal but I still don’t see the point is doing anything about it. Perhaps if MLB or Fox just made it available they could make a bit of money showing some relevant commercials..
In any case, it was time to go back to MLB.com and have a look see. After trying to figure out if I could even watch mlb.tv if I paid for it (it seemed I couldn’t since there was a “National Blackout”), I decided to try out the alternate service: postseason.tv. I thought that it was actually just a way to watch the playoffs rather than the full MLB.tv service and it seemed it didn’t have the same blackout restrictions.
Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your perspective) that isn’t precisely what you get when you sign up for postseason.tv. What you get is a pretty slick service where you can pick and choose which cameras (up to 4 at once) you want to watch. You get the live audio from the TV broadcast. The cameras you can choose from are the same ones they have available for TV (blimp, slow motion and dugout included).
What you don’t get is the actual switching that occurs for the live TV broadcast. This is somewhat problematic since you can only see a portion of the action at any given time and many of the cameras when they aren’t live on air are moving around quite a bit, setting up the next shot and so on. It is actually very difficult to watch a game like baseball in this form.
What was also unfortunate is that the cameras weren’t in-sync. I realize that can be a bit difficult to accomplish but, come-on.. They could have tried to at least make them close. Even if you clicked the “Sync” button on the top of the screen never seemed to match up.
This service while technically interesting had a lot of possibilities but instead it just made me ache for a normal television broadcast. I have some new found respect for live event directors, switching between all of those cams for 4 plus hours of a baseball game is definitely a hard job.
Over at Shelly Palmer’s blog I wrote a comment in response to his thoughts on a recent Google presentation where it was noted that kids and teenagers weren’t consuming YouTube as much as previously assumed. He discussed some possible alternatives (video games, comic books, Long Tail) but missed one very important point. (I left the following as a comment on his blog but the formatting was terrible so it is below.)
Regarding the consumption of media by teenagers, I think you are missing one very important aspect of online life, particularly as it relates to teenagers: Talking.. Every teenager that I have talked to and asked what they do online has said one of the three following things: MySpace, Facebook and AIM.
I break this down as follows: Constructing identity, meeting people and talking with them. Sharing media and consuming media, I believe are aspects of that but take a back seat to the primary socializing behavior. I think it is possible that we are entering an era much more radical than the rise of the “Long Tail”, we just might be going back to individual and small group storytelling as the primary media.
Come to think about it, it isn’t that radical, only seems different from the norm if you were born between 1940 and 1990.
“Pheeder is a whole new way of using your cellphone: it lets you communicate with all of your friends simultaneously, with a single phone call. To use it, you just call Pheeder, leave a message and hang up. Seconds later all of your friends, or anyone you want, receives the message at the very same instant. And if they want, they can send a reply to your message.”
This morning Dan pointed me to an article in Today’s NY Times about Nobody’s Watching. Nobody’s Watching is a sitcom in the form of a reality show about creating a sitcom. (A bit convoluted, no doubt).
Nobody’s Watching is a pilot that hasn’t yet been picked up by any networks but has been posted on YouTube. This online posting and the subsequent audience response that it has garnered has the networks rethinking their decisions. Taking a look at the YouTube page, we find that the show has had more than 300,000 views and more than 600 comments. While not huge numbers compared with television audiences, these are big big numbers for any online video.
Based on this, I am betting that the networks are about to learn something about the possibilities of online video. I am also betting that they get it wrong…
Stephen Speicher in Engadget’s The Clicker: The Clicker: People are watching “Nobody’s Watching” writes:
“Now, make no mistake, the likelihood of this show rising from the heaps and living to the tender age of two (err… episodes) is about as likely as Stephen Colbert replacing Tony Snow as the current administration’s Press Secretary, but really that’s not the point. This experiment shows that people will watch, comment on, and enjoy pilots on the web in a way that today’s traditional broadcast systems won’t allow. What’s missing is the networks taking the next (obvious) step: instead of spending multiple years and countless dollars trying to determine what to show the viewing public, why not let the audience decide? Put the pilots on the internet before you make the decision. Not only does this give a more accurate assessment of what people might watch, it has the potential to dramatically speed up the decision process.
“Yet, despite their best efforts, the entrenched powers behind modern broadcasting just cannot get their heads around the potential of the internet. This is evident at every turn. Whether it be the pulling of the wildly-popular “Lazy Sunday” clip from YouTube (and then later re-releasing in a harder-to-find corner of the NBC site) or the treatment of the internet as a dumping ground for dead projects, the current regime views the internet as, at best, additional revenue. More often than not, the internet is considered a nuisance.
Exactly right, given the opportunity, people will tell you exactly what they like and what they don’t. There is incredible value in this, should the networks decided to start paying attention.
YouTube is an incredible phenomenon. If you haven’t yet explored it, I suggest you checkout my playlist: Interesting videos from YouTube. It shows a wide range of what YouTube has to offer (the good and the overwhelming bad), from Nobody’s Watching to home videos about cats and everything in between.
Speaking of online video, “research” has brought me to: Where the Hell is Matt and Rocketboom’s version. I personally respond to the freedom offered by “regular people” to just have fun with the medium. I also think there is power in how these folks are referencing each-other.
Last, I have to make plug for Ze Frank’s The Show. Ze gets it, he truly engages his audience! He shows that the possibilities for audience participation and feedback are endless. On his wiki member’s of his audience (now participants themselves) have taken it upon themselves to transcribe every single one of his daily shows. Ze even fits in time to play chess by vlog as well as inviting and showing audience member’s doing their “Power Moves”.
So.. Online video, starting to move forward? YouTube becoming more than just drivel?
Perhaps both. And that is how it should be.
Democracy: Internet TV
Now supports Linux..!
The Geography of Community Media | Mapping Access
Amazing how many there are. What can be done with a network of this size?
MNN, Manhattan’s Public Access Station is starting to offer video blogging classes.
Here is the first:
Going beyond the Channels: Vlogging as an alternative means of Distribution
Wednesday March 1st, 2006, 6:30-8:30 pm
Manhattan Neighborhood Network, Open Studio