Friday, April 13, 2007

The Death of TV

The only TV that I watch on the Television Set is the Amazing Race so can sit with my wife and talk about the places we might want to travel. I just saw the Amazing Race Asia which I don't think was shown in the US. Now I'm watching the Amazing Race All-Stars.

All other TV shows, movies and videos are viewed on my PC. I also watch and listen to podcasts on my PC. This happened out of necessity because I live in a house where there are too many people competing for the Television. I used to stay up late to watch my shows at 2 am, 3 am and 4 am. I tried to get this family to buy a DVR but they said they didn't want or need one. If any family needs a DVR, it's this one. Family members frequently have to miss parts of their show so others can watch. They live their schedules around the the TV schedule and even stay up late to watch their shows. They resist technological change. It's too different from them. They are like technophobes.

But beyond recording your TV from the standard TV signal there is the Internet and downloading your shows. It does not matter if you watch them on your TV or have a way to watch them on your Television set. The point is that you can watch what you want, when you want it. We are nearing that day when all shows are available all the time.

I do not subscribe to any service. I get all of this for free except for DVDs and VCDs I buy for movies and TV shows but they're super-cheap since they are pirated.

I installed Pando to transfer files to friends but in later versions they allowed me to subscribe to padcasts which is like Tivo in that I check it each day to see what I can watch or listen to.

Digg also created a Podcast section. A common misconception is that you need an iPod to watch or listen to podcasts but you don't. They are just video and audio files that you can watch or listen to on your PC any other device that supports those formats.

Revision3 has some great Podcasts I enjoy.

Here are some Podcasts that I've been enjoying lately. You can find these on Revision3.
  • Diggnation
  • TWIT - This week in Tech
  • Geekdrome
  • iFanboy
  • InDigital
  • thebroken
  • Web Drifter
  • Rocketboom
  • TWIT - This week in Tech
  • Systm
  • DL.TV
  • CrankyGeek
  • commandN
  • net@nite
  • InDigital
  • Buzz Out Loud from CNET
  • GeekBrief.TV
  • Leo Laporte - The Tech Guy
  • Hak5
My new cyber stars that I watch are
  • Joanne Colan
  • Kevin Rose
  • Alex Albrecht
  • Leo Laporte
  • John C. Dvorak
  • Patrick Norton
  • Wil Wheaton
Yes that is Wil Wheaton who starred in the movie Stand By Me and was played Ensign Wesley Crusher on Star Trek: The Next Generation. On a side-note, Wil Wheaton is become a cyber celeb with his blog on Suicide Girls like this post about William Shatner. He is quite the gaming geek and scifi geek blogging about episodes of Next Gen that he was in.

It's amazing to see someone continually reinvent themselves and I'm a big fan of Wil Wheaton and I don't think he ruined Next Gen although he probably did save the Enterprise one time too many.

Getting back to the death of TV ... our world is going digital and it's transforming our entertainment. Film is becoming history and the days when we will drive to rent a video will come to an end some day when we can easily access any move or TV show.

Products like Apple TV and Microsoft's Media center try to fuse the Internet and PC with the Television. With the average person producing their own shows we are a phase of many-to-many when the number of channels is in the thousands and eventually the millions.

The shows most in demand will be part of the long tail. Everyone will gravitate toward their micro interests instead of hanging with the crowd and watching stuff that's aimed a wide audience. We will want the stuff that is aimed at a narrow audience to suit our peculiar tastes. Broadcasting is becoming Narrowcasting.

If I could, I would use iTunes for watching TV and movies but I am blocked in Malaysia but I'm told there is a work-around. I could have someone in the US open an account for me then I could use the service. I was thinking of doing that but there is just so much free content that has grabbed my attention that I haven't felt the need.

The same thing happened with MovieLink. They know my IP address is not in the US so they've blocked me from using their service.

















I can trace this back to when I discovered Assemblr.com. I got to see Season 1 of Heroes ... finally! I saw the first 4 seasons of Mythbusters. I watched the first 4 seasons of Penn & Teller:Bullshit! I saw the first 2 seasons of The Office. I discovered this absolutely funny cartoon about the ultimate heavy metal band called Metalocalypse. I sampled a lot of shows I had never seen before including many that are not shown in the US like the IT Crowd. I watched all 4 seasons of the Aqua Team Hunger Force.

This has changed the way I watch TV. You can see by my TV page that I used to watch about 50 different TV shows each week with the help of Tivo. But what I prefer now is to watch an entire season of show from start to finish before moving onto another show. I bought Lost and House Season 1 on DVD and watched them from start to finish. I like that much better than watching one episode per week of a show. I noticed this is how shows are shown in Malaysia. It's like the soap-opera's are shown in the US. They show one episode per day. I'm not sure how many episodes per season there are typically for a show but I remember when I first came to Malaysia, we started watching this show about a guy who invented a potion to turn himself invisible. It was entertaining even though I didn't understand the Chinese. The show lasted for about a month and a half then it was gone and I haven't seen it since. They might have shown several seasons or it could be that a single season is 30 episodes.

As I got into YouTube and it just boggled my brain about how much great stuff there was to watch. I watched the Richard Dawkins series The God Delusion, as well as 30 Days where a Christian lives with Muslims or another episode where an Atheist lives with Christians. Good Stuff! I also caught the BBC series about The Most Hated Family in America, about this family of Christians that take the bible's message way too literally and to the extreme. Or this gem where a mother screams at her son for saying he's an atheist now. Speaking of Bullshit! there an episode about the Bible. Oh yeah, also Gary Hasselhoff singing Hooked on a Feeling. If it's deleted on YouTube there are sites that offer these deleted videos like infamousx.com. It's actually amusing to see the random videos that YouTube deleted and try to figure out why it got deleted.

I love the TV show The Office and I always knew that it was the US version of the original UK series and I finally got to watch the UK version of The Office, both seasons plus the two specials. After that I learned there is also a French and German version of The Office. I might try to watch a few episodes of those too out of curiousity but I don't speak French or German. I heard that The Office (US) had some Webisodes that you can only see the web. I will track those down eventually but that is very cool that they are producing content just for the Internet.

I also found a site that lists 13 places to watch TV for free online.

I also make it a point to check out the videos on Digg.

I have not explored every possible option I have for watching TV, Movies, Videos, Podcasts, etc. but here are some more links and ideas.
There is also Bit Torrent which I used to pull down some high quality episodes of CSI but unfortunately my Internet provider blocks me from sharing my downloads with the world so Bit Torrent kept my bandwidth throttled so low it took forever to download shows so I gave up on that.

It's clear there is a paradigm shift happening. Many to Many. Narrowcasting. This is what it must have felt like when audiences shifted away from radio to television. We're becoming a Have it your way society where you can watch or listen to what you want, when you want and where you want.

I can't help wonder beyond this this. What's the next step in the evolutionary change of the way we devour media? What ever it is, I want to be a part of it and maybe even help invent it.

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