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No Program Left Behind: Liberating TV from the Tyranny of the Ephemeral

Tom Loosemore, Project Director, BBC2.0, BBC

Date: Tuesday, March 27
Time: 5:10pm - 5:55pm
Location: Douglas C

In the UK, most television is free, digital, and unencrypted. We're blessed with some great TV shows, densely clustered in a handful of quality channels. Helpfully, these same channels are broadcast free-to-air via unencrypted digital video (DVB-T), a system known as Freeview.

And yet, despite being broadcast ready cooked into unencrypted 1s and 0s, digital television remains as frustratingly ephemeral as its analogue forefather. All too often you miss the best stuff.

Meanwhile, the Internet is busy rendering all other types of media immortal. With a bit of help from Google, the Web will soon let you search all the words of all the books ever written. Ditto photos. iTunes and the MP3 are pulling the same trick for music.

Yet it's all too easy for broadcast TV to slip through your fingers. YouTube or no YouTube, most TV programs leave little or no trace on the Net. Most are not stored. Most are not shared. Most are not findable, let alone addressable. TV is broken.

Deep inside the BBC we've been building prototypes that nibble away at these problems. First up was Pandora, a DVR that captured a week's worth of British TV. This was followed by BBC Macro, a web version that stretched the model out to 9 months worth of all BBC TV. That added up to 20,000+ full screen MP4s, so we added some tasty social navigation to help you find the good stuff.

But recently I've been getting really greedy. I want the best of broadcast mixed with the best of the Web. But most of all, I want it all.

This talk will share my vision of a cheap consumer device sitting under your TV that will capture, store, and share all TV, forever.

[I toyed with calling this talk "Designing the Mutant Offspring of Logie Baird and Berners-Lee." Then I got cold feet about putting the word "mutant" in the same sentance as Berners-Lee. Speak not ill of your heroes, and all that. ]