Tue, 11 Oct 2005

lunchblogging! This is sort of like pie blogging except from the berkman’s lunch series.

Today’s speaker (sort of, he describes it as more of a panel) is Daniell Krawczyk of DigitalBicycle. Deeply ironically, our streaming hardware died right before lunch, so there is no stream. :/

Daniell says that in the past there have been collaborations to create media between local cable channels, but they have fizzled because of the physical limitations. They feel like local/community cable channels can now work with local community producers to create programming more collaboratively, if they have the right tools. No need to send tapes/dvds around, etc. Central theme is building community through media. The first target user group is existing community content producers- for example, Princeton’s University Channel (represented here by Donna Liu), which creates and distributes content from various universities. [Looks like they have lots of interesting content.] Later he calls this ‘building a network out of a confederation.’

Their goal at Digital Bicycle is to pull existing technologies together to build an open platform for people to share copies of the media they’ve created, and with other distribution centers those individuals are tied to- cultural/ethnic/geographic distribution centers. Work with bittorrent, drupal, rss, xml/rpc. They use mp4 as the codec, which they feel is less sucky than most other options in terms of openness. Goal is definitely broadcast-quality- with mp4s, still need 5-700MB/hour of data for that.

Definitely plan not to be a central media host a-la ourmedia, but more of a torrent tracker than anything else.

Daniell phrases one question very well- why is it so much easier to get things that the owners don’t want me to get than things the owners do want me to get?

Also here is Tim Halle of the Project for Open Source Media, who sounds like someone the fluendo guys should talk to. Maybe they need to update their news page, though. ;) They want to provide a platform for open, interactive TV that bypasses the cable channels completely- imagine having an open standard settop box that serves up content via a TiVO-ish menu that is based on RSS/torrent/etc.

Also here is Jesse Lerman of the Princeton Server Group, which makes tools for community TV stations (i.e., poor stations :) to become very digital- something big commercial stations did ages ago at high cost.

Daniell summarizes that for this to be successful it needs to have four components: Prepare (the video), Share (basically upload it more or less), deliver (easy for people to grab it), circulate (focused in their case on public access, to paraphrase him poorly).

Turns out that most public access channels actually have contracts with the cable providers that if they can fill all their hours with a certain amount of original content, they are entitled to additional channels.

Would like to see all public access offices/centers become torrent hubs for all the video stuff as well.

Daniell thinks this is a great opportunity for all public access, though it is a bit scary, because they are mostly dependent on cable companies and cable service fees for funding- if commercial cable dies, they are in serious trouble, even if the ‘net has replaced cable as their primary distribution method.

If all this stuff pulls together, it’ll be really interesting- leverage existing content creation centers who are good at what they do, creating a center of gravity and some momentum around digital distribution of content.

Dave Weinberger has also written up the lunch.