Wednesday, October 27, 2004

BeyondTV - An “offline” internet TV project

This is an undercurrents project to create a real alternative to the centralization of media by narrow corporate power. Its not an Indymedia project as quality control is too much of an issues- TV with out quality control is not open to normal people to watch. Most activist media is made for a tiny minority of popule and is un-intelligible/un-whatebal outside this minority.

The project will work in a number of stages the first being a functional full screen activist TV channel, based on MPG1 and MPG4 content from the current archive of ruffcuts and euro/US Indymedia newsreal CD’s (we have over 20 hour of programming encoded and access to at least another 20 hours). Secondly stage we add “automatic functionality” and some user input into viewing choices. Third stage a re-write to create a decentralized user rated P2P universal TV network when we have good experiences of the idea working in a practical way. I feel it is paramount that we start at the beginning using simple, thus reliable, tools and techniques.

What it looks like
The first implementation will be a very simple application which can be downloaded from the undercurrents site which when installed looks like a TV screen with a play button.

User experiences
The user downloads it and installs it, and then the next day they hit the play button and get an half an hour of alternative news – full screen at VHS quality. The format is like a traditional mainstream news experiences with short intros and then longer in-depth reports followed by “sport”, “weather” and “fluffy dog” story. They just have to leave their computer on – connected to a broadband connection – and every day the will be a new half hour of programming which will play back faultlessly in full screen VHS quality.

How it works
Fundamentally to keep it simple it uses existing software and technologies and re-packages them in a new way. As the backend of the application the first version could use an existing implementation of bittorrent such as:

We have a blog page running an RSS feed - we update with new video everyday (manually to start with).
The front end is a simple embedded media player, I am tempted to use Microsoft media player in the first version simply because it will work The more open source player would be VideoLAN as this has some additional useful functionality. That is I am very keen to get the first version working and not being purist and “open sources” about it all this come in on the 3ed version when we define a “open future” for P2P television over IP, if that isn’t a little grandiose (:

A simple play list generator that scans the torrent down load directory and builds up a playlist (in alphabetical order to start). Then feeds this to the media player. That is it for version one. Stupidly simple.

Version 1

* Basic Application with embedded media player
This would have two modules:
* Playlist generator – simple playlist by alphabetical order – when the user presses the play button it scans the download directory to create a “.WPL” playlist, feeds this list to embedded media player.
* azureus RSS plugin – Azureus downloads the media files to a default directory in the background.

Version 2
-clear P2P cash to free up space (default download directory)
-Select interested subject (using media Meta data)
-best download time (bandwidth conservation issues)
House Keeping:
-auto clear cash (clears watched and older files when reserved hard drive space low)
-media download time out (gets rid of “failed” torrents)
-media meta data parsing (to create TV news look and feel)
-media watch list history (to stop media repeating)
-Story (TV news) playlist (template for TV news format play list generation)

Version 2
Transparent install runtime - to package and install media playing app and P2P software in an easy to use package.

TODO list

Modules (alpha)
* embedded media player application
* basic playlist generator
* setup blog sight
* setup torrent tracker

Modules (beta)
* Playlist generator with media management and media metadata parser and playlist templates.
* creating a nice installer
* Simple user database - list online users could possible use webstates package?


Katrina said...


Very nice blog and some interesting posts. Have a look at my new bit torrent site called - Mininova -


surfing dvds said...

Aloha Beyondtv,
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~ Aloha ~