Friday, January 26, 2007


... in Ten Seconds

I'm impressed by Joost. It's the first thing I've seen that feels like a natural successor to what we call TV.

... in One Minute
I'll step back from that slightly. It's as easy to use as a good PVR, more natural and higher-quality than most web-video. As with YouTube, you can select the content you're interested in, watch as much as you please, and move on. As with a PVR, you can watch what you like, when you like. The content isn't all there yet -- there's only so much on Joost that I want to watch right now. But that'll change. And when it does, I'm not sure that I'll need or want a connection to broadcast and cable tv.

... in Five Minutes
I like TV. Probably a little too much -- I watch a fair amount, enough that I'm not going to try and estimate it in public. I find it relaxing after a day's hard mental effort to do something that isn't throughly mentally challenging, and, well, TV is good at that.

But while I like the idea -- while I like the ability to relax, unwind, take in some entertainment without working too hard at it, the specifics are pretty rotten. If you get hooked into a story, the idea that you have to be home at a particular time each week in order to stay in tune with that story is, frankly, ludicrous.

There are weeks when I feel as if I'm under pressure to 'catch up' with the PVR before it runs out of space, and there are weeks when I'm sick, bored or lazy, and I desperately start looking for interesting programming that I can PVR so that I don't completely run out of good TV.

I watched half an episode of Battlestar Galactica, decided it wasn't that good, and wrote it off. Same with the British version of the Office. Both were well-received and I wished I could revisit my decision, but I didn't want to start half-way through a season. As a result, I wasn't ever really able to engage effectively with these.

These are the side-effects of a broadcast model. Sometimes I consider switching to a DVD-only approach, but I just don't have the patience to wait. And, frankly, I shouldn't have to. I should be able to watch what I want, when I want, without deciding in advance that I want to.

Is Joost perfect? By no means. There's a search, and a directory of content, but it feels as if these are only the beginnings of what would be necessary to catalogue and search all the content that's on your average cable TV in a week. We'll want recommendations, tagging, linking. We'll want to be able to see all the movies, all episodes of a series ordered season, then release date. All these kinds of tools are still in their infancy with Joost.

But the promise is there. It's good enough, fast enough, high-enough quality that all those other things just feel as if it's a matter of time. If you're in the business of broadcast or cable tv, this is your moment to be scared. Very scared. Because life, as you know it, is ending.

No comments: