The future is coming ready-or-not

Remaking TV with Democracy

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Video podcasts (aka vodcast, aka video blog) are the latest outgrowth of the podcast concept: the difference is the content is video rather than audio. Democracy Player (formerly DTV) is a new program that lets you watch video, subscribe to shows so you get the latest ones automatically and it provides a channel guide. Just like Sky+ or Tivo you can watch TV shows when it suits your schedule. The client is available on Linux, Mac OS X and Windows and it’s pretty slick looking:

Democracy Player Channel Guide

Democracy Player’s been created by a not-for-profit organisation called the Participatory Culture Foundation who want to open up media production and collaboration. Consequently, the client is Open Source and uses free software such as BitTorrent, Python and Mozilla.

You can think of this as a poor mans IPTV (Internet Protocol Television) because content producers don’t have to set-up streaming infrastructure. But, video is a bandwidth monster – the TWiT’s (The Week in Tech) video I downloaded was over 459 MB. So if your show is popular you’re going to chew through your web sites bandwidth allowance very quickly. Democracy Player solves this problem by including Bit Torrent, so at some points when you are using the program you are also a (peer-to-peer) server for other users to download video from. There’s nothing obvious on the site that says when this happens but there is some bandwidth limiting capability in the Preferences.

I’ve been using it for a few days on the Mac and while there are bugs it’s very impressive and definitely worth giving a whirl. There’s also some general buzz in the blogosphere: For background The Ponderings of Woodrow posts about the IPTV competitors, Digital Dojo posts about his experiences, and macobserver has some coverage. Democracy Player isn’t the only option, there is also Fireant and ITunes, here’s a post on using iTunes.

Do video blogs sounds like the future of TV? Will you be part of the creative revolution? Post your thoughts.

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Written by Steve George

March 21, 2006 at 01:06

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