It was a beautiful 50 degree day here in Boston. Hearty New Englanders that we are, we took the slightest hint of warm weather as an excuse to go for a picnic. We had our meal among the sculptures at the DeCordova Museum, a short drive from Boston heading out on Route 2.

Skirting the edges of the new media universe

Chris Pirillo feeds a new addiction. If I understand correctly, the idea is that the RSS feeds give you a list of fresh downloads in your newsreader. Click on what you want, and shortly thereafter the video is on your hard drive. Maybe we aren’t too far from giving Dowbrigade StrongBad in his Video Aggregator. We’d need an automated way to launch BitTorrent when new items arrive in the feed. I don’t know, maybe people are doing this already. We’d also need specialized feeds so that we wouldn’t have to download everything. A StrongBad feed for Dowbrigade, a Topps feed for Chris, and so on.
Lately I’ve been working in a parallel space with RSSTV. The details are different but the idea is exactly the same. You point your PVR at a feed and the contents of the feed cause it to make a video recording. Here the PVR is analogous to a desktop PC and the video recording is analogous to a BitTorrent download. The BitTorrent approach has the notable advantage that the torrent file will work for anyone, anywhere. By contrast, in the RSSTV world, even if we limit ourselves to the US, programs will air at different times on different channel numbers, depending on what part of the country the person lives in and their cable provider. I think we can figure that part out to some extent but it’s going to take some work. The RSSTV approach has the notable advantage that you can retrieve copyrighted content legally, because that comes with your cable subscription.
I’m gonna ramble just a bit more. An idea that I find really exciting, that I haven’t heard much talk about, is discovery. Once you have an easy way to record lots of video, how do you decide what to record? That was a big driver for me in coming up with RSSTV. I want to be able to subscribe my TiVo to a feed that is edited by someone with interesting tastes, or have a way to let my friends push program suggestions onto it.
Speaking of which, a couple of days ago I quietly launched Program My TiVo! which uses RSSTV to accomplish the latter. I’ve opened up 22 slots, two for each of eleven days, on an ongoing basis. Each day two new slots become available. It’s open to everyone, actually, and they’ve filled up every slot. Most Extreme Challenge and Witch Hunter Robin were great suggestions. I’d never heard of either, and enjoyed both. Thank you Adam and Ross!

Peter Mulvey turns up on the Internet Archive. A man and his guitar. He’s fantastic. We saw him perform a few years ago at the Burren. His cover of Dar Williams’ “The Ocean” blew me away. I still haven’t figured out an efficient workflow for accessing the archives. The files are so huge. RSS enclosures could help, but you wouldn’t want to download everything. There has to be some selectivity.