The Podcast Revolution

Podcasting (also) is a relatively new form of media distribution, and it’s got quite a bit of buzz about it. While not quite taking the world by storm, it is changing the way we think about media distribution. Functionally, however, I think that most people see podcasting as “radio shows for your ipod” — This is certainly the case, but I think that this is just the beginning. We’re already seeing podcasting clients written for pocketpc, and it’s only a matter of time before we see them in other devices, too — palms, cellphones — everything. The most intriguing thing to me, however, is having your MythTV/Tivo subscribe to podcasts. Not because it’s your tv, but because of what it will eventually do.

Currently, it’s really cheap to produce a podcast. However, as the market expands, there will be bigger budgets and higher production values (as well as commercialization of the content itself). As a result, the higher production budgets/values will allow people to do a lot more with their podcasts. A couple weeks ago, Adam Curry was talking about embedding images into podcasts to be displayed along with an audio stream. (for example, on your ipod photo). That’s great, i think it’s a wonderful idea; and i want to figure out the best way to get it done. However, it’s going to be a while before ipod photos (or whatever device you’re listening on) are prevalent enough to support this. I think tivo/mythtv podcast clients could do this pretty easily — i mean, they’re already hooked up to your tv.

By taking the idea of podcasting+images and extending it a little bit, you’ll get podcasting with metadata. One way to think of it is a long mp3 with text, notes, images, videos, whatever, packaged together. Another way to think of it is as a package with instructions. In other words, you could send an archive of your information with instructions on what to do. An example of this would be to send a SMIL file packaged with your media. Some media would be there for informational purposes, other media would be there to be displayed depending on the attributes of your player. Basically, whatever your current device can handle, it handles — the rest is ignored.

Taking this to the extreme, you basically have dvds — notes, outtakes, extra video, alternate audio, alternate camera angles, etc. I’m not saying you have an actual DVD, you just have the mechanism to distribute that type of content. This is where the creative destruction begins. Now, anyone with some bandwidth & the ability to produce content can publish their own — anything! Video editing is becoming easier and easier to do w/ home computers these days, and there are lots of people out there who want to do tv/film, but just need a way to get their content to people.

That way is podcasting. Not podcasting now, but what it will become. The “podcast distribution mechanism of the future” will allow people to subscribe to feeds for whatever they’re interested in, just like it does now. The difference is that with a rich media fabric to embed content, and a large existing distribution base, there will be interest from bigger media. Maybe it’s not the major networks, but it will be someone. There will be networks that are eager to distribute their content who will produce and distribute it this way, and there will be small people doing what they love, putting their content out there too. Tools (software) will get better, and the end product will be decent — decent enough to get an audience, ad revenue, to bring more viewers, and grow the medium.

I think some of this is already happening within Tivo, with their “Tahiti” project. See here

Digital Video Utopia

So i’m playing around with the idea of writing some simple plugins for either tivo or myth, and I’m waiting for a replacement tivo right now, so to really do anything on the project, I need to do it with myth (at least for the next week or two).

Anyway, i’m really excited about the fact that tivo is opening up their APIs w/ tivo HME

This feels to me like something that can give them the ‘edge’ they need to stay alive. In other news, i got 90% of the way through installing Myth on Debian (on top of new nvidia drivers, and reinstalling after i realized the default was still a 2.4 kernel). The last 10% is with a problem i’m having w/ myth connecting to my xserver. I may just install mandrake 10.1 tonight, as i found 10.1 myth packages. My guess is that it will be less work to do that than it would be to track down the xserve problem.

So many ideas bubbling

I’ve had lots of ideas bubbling around in my head recently. I’ve been thinking about setting up a MythTV box, because that piece of software is starting to look really sweet.

I’ve been a big fan of tivo forever, but all the added functionality of MythTV just keeps pushing me in the way of wanting to use it instead of the tivo.

Particularly, I like the fact that it can

  • Display RSS feeds
  • Play emulated ROMs
  • Give you weather
  • Play any content you already have on your PC (eg divx movies)
  • MythPhone — videoconferencing, how cool.

Also, aside from Myth, I am constantly blown away by the amount of innovation that’s going on — SOAP, RSS, Podcasting, the amount of influence blogs have, it’s just amazing. I’d like to write an essay on where I think we’re going to be in a couple years. Hopefully I’ll at least get around to writing a mini-essay soon.