Speak of the devil. Sony just came out with a PSP firmware update that includes and RSS aggregator built in. 

Two things. It only does mp3 and AAC audio, and it doesn't actually download the files, it just streams them over the PSP's wifi. It probably doesn't download the files do to the fact that they don't have to much built in memory in the PSP.  However, moving the aggregator onto the PSP and using the wifi to access the media directly from the PSP is a HUGE first step in the right direction.

Now's definitely the time to blog and talk the hell out of the issue. 

The PSP needs to retail all the metadata and post info from the RSS and make it readable, preferably support basic html.  THen of course they need to support mpeg video and actually cache the media on the PSP so it can be viewed when the PSP is off line.

BTW, sorry about following up on my on very long post, but this is a big deal, one I've been waiting for and talking about, for a very long time. I proposed just this sort of functionality for the PSP several months back in several blog posts. I didn't expect it would start to happen this quick.


-Mike of mmeiser.com/blog

On Nov 29, 2005, at 1:07 PM, Michael Meiser wrote:

I don't normally post apple rumors, nor follow them (well, i guess I did with the video ipod), but this might tell you a little bit about what 2006 has in store for video blogging.

I don't necessarily believe any of the details from think secret, but I agree with the direction. The basic premise is this. Apple will release a mac mini with intel processor, larger hard drive, the option for a remote which works with their Front Row media center software and has DVR features. 

This will fully transition the mac mini into the living room as a media center. It would essentially finish what Apple started with the video ipod and video podcasting and selling tv shows in the Apple Store.

Basically, what Apple is doing is building a media center, but they're not just building the hardware, they have to make sure it has content otherwise it's an unfulfilled promise. And Apple is not known for delivering empty promises. This is according to Steve Jobs why Apple didn't release the video ipod earlier.  

So, where do video blogs fit in? Well, we're part of the leverage. Apple is including us in this strategy to send a clear message to the incumbent content industry... if you don't come to the platform we're going to bring the platform to you. With a miniscule content deal with CBS for a couple shows Apple didn't have enough content to promote it's platform. Video blogging and podcasting were the final piece to the puzzle.

With this strategy apple now has:

a) an ever increasing amount of video blog / rss video feed content. The latest including current TV, G4 Tech TV, and CBS I believe made an announcement... and of course the thousands of us too. :)

b) music videos, a couple prime-time TV shows, potentially some pixar related content in their a'la'carte media store

c) Tivo-like DVR capabilities that make fair use of media bringing any TV content onto the Mac platform

Anyway, that should be "enough" functionality for apple to successfully launch their platform and pull (aka. incentive) traditional media companies in joining the mix.  Anyway, Apple is driving the innovation on that front with technology because the incumbent content owners are the dinosaurs that refuse to enter the new digital age.  However, on OUR front it is content that is driving the innovation, from blip.tv, to mefeedia, to FireAnt and dozens upon dozens of others.

Basically, what we as vloggers are doing is getting more opportunity because because the incumbent media are staying out of it. Where there is strife, there is opportunity as the saying goes. However whereas apple is trying to promote it's mac "platform" we're trying to build communications systems. You can see this clearly in the way Apple is treating vlogs as more broadcast media with a lack of meta-data in itunes, and permalinks or comment links... and in how they're bringing vlogs to the the TV as if they're a passive experience. And you'll see this theme more as I continue to write.

On a side note, I've seen a lot of DVR capability devices, (I think one was from sony) that would record your shows and let you watch them from a wifi connected tablet like device from anywhere by sending the digitized versions over the web.

All this is to say if 2005 was about developing trusted source and mechanisms for bubbling up media, 2006 is going to be about the manifestation of video blogging into the real world through hardware... getting that media out of the box. The Akimbo and iPod are the first manifestations of things to come. A certain sort of validation for what we've accomplished so far.

Specifically, I'm pushing and have been for some time the development of portable media devices that are a) wifi connected and b) have built in firmware enabled RSS aggregators that do video and audio (latter images and who knows what).  

These devices will be similar to the PSP in hardware design, basically like your iRiver, RCA Lyra or other portable media players with the addition of wifi connectivity and RSS aggregation. They'll have 20-80 gig hard drives and will only need to connect to your desktop computer for configurations such as wifi or to take media off the device and move it onto the computer.  They won't and don't need to be "always on" they'll just connect automatically through open or trusted wifi ports. Most will plug into TV's or other external displays. 

I call this "hub-less portable media" as a counter point to apple's "digital hub" strategy that makes the desktop machine the center of the network. In this system content goes directly from it's source on the web to the portable media device. At some point I hope these media devices and the media on them will get as ubiquitous as cell phones. For example I fully expect in the next few years to be walking down the street and have my media player device beep and pop it open to find a new video posted just minutes earlier from my favorite vlogger. It's a grand vision, but I'm getting a head of myself.

If this RSS enable portable media device evolution happens I could see the prices on these devices dropping lower and lower until they're nearly as ubiquitous as cell phones... in fact cell phones may move in a parallel line until the two merge, yeah, so called convergence has been predicted for ever, but of course won't happen for many years. The primary issue being innovations happen faster in separate cheap single purpose devices, especially ones not tied to a proprietary network and services like cell phones are.  

On a side note: there was a lot of recent talk about MIT's $100 laptop to conquer the digital divide in third world countries. I propose that perhaps end the end the devices that conquer the digital divide will be more like a cell phone or a media player because the real value of ubiquitous computing is communications, not excell spread sheets. Such portable communications and media devices would connect people (and probably be cheaper than $100 laptops) and the so called $100 laptops would be centralized into cybercafes and other more central and shared spots. Also, video and audio communications have and advantage where literacy is low and oral traditions are still strong. Anyway... it's all good and fun theory and there's no right answer at all.

But as this convergence does happen the line between commercial and entertainment media and "their" platform, and personal media, or person to people media, "our" media will blur.   The platforms will merge as they are starting to on the ipod and more importantly the technologies behind them will merge.  For example apple might very well start DRM'ing paid subscription podcasts or start delivering a' la' carte media directly to a wifi enabled ipod media player via an RSS enabled mechanism. But that's just the start, and that one example may very well happen in 2006.

The real reason hub-less RSS media aggregation will happen on independent devices and won't happen on the cellular front is that cellular companies are in a bitter battle to control their networks and their cell phones as a platform so they can continue to sell $2.99 ring-tones.  Expect some overlap in the PDA's where there are already some RSS aggregators that will slowly expand to accept mp3's and specific video formats.  There is a growing battle already over network neutrality on the cellular platform with many cellular providers saying they have "unlimited" internet access on their cellular devices and yet blocking all sorts of competing services to protect their gloriously misinformed business models, the $2.99 ring tone being the most obvious.  

Starting next year with a more progressive cellular company like Cingular these networks may open up some because the truth is many of the uses businesses would pay them for, like virtual private networks (VPN), and business extranet services, won't work on crippled networks. But look for cellular providers to maintain tight control on their cellular platforms for as long as possible, at least two if not five years before the economics of having open networks are sufficiently established enough that they no longer maintain their misguided closed and proprietary ways.

Anyway, we'll start poking wholes to the cellular platforms through more open PDA's and by by transcoding and shipping media through mechanisms like text message. Rocket boom for example has rboom.com. Doesn't work with my phone, but probably works with most video capable phones. We're wedging open closed platforms and making them more accessible to all, that's the legacy of open source and now open media.

The real issue behind all this hardware is how to build the infrastructure to get any video (and it's meta data) from anywhere on the web to any device and we're putting the mechanisms in place right now to immediately take advantage of these hardware opportunities as they happen. The collision of these two forces (content and portable media hardware) will be very powerful in fueling the growth of open media (aka. vlogging and podcasting).  It will of course have many delightful and unexpected consequences, but only if we make them happen. Without widespread consensus and push for these things they won't happen.

What we can do to help it happen, is 

a) keep producing kick ass content, good content is key 

b) keep the debate and talk alive by sharing our ideas and vision as well as our media and personal communique'

c) those of us who have the developmental capabilities should keep making sweet webservices and tools... from moveable type and wordpress implementation to dedicated sharing and hosting service... (we could use more open source aggregator products like DTV but for ALL platforms, especially linux)

d) we should all continue to collaborate in building this infrastructure that bubbles up video content from vlogs, to revlogs, to remixes to tagging. These innovations happen both developmentally and through the mix content and vlogging itself... across the board. These sort of experiments in remixing, screen casting, exquisite corpse video blogging projects, and so many things I can't even think of them let alone name them, are where new innovations that drive this open media growth. It's important to remember that this is a content driven evolution in media, all the mediation structures that be are doing is all they've ever been doing, try to get the hell out of the way of the message.  It's not the technology that's driving it, it's the technology that's enabling it, the content comes first, the systems slowly improve over time.  This of course being unlike the "innovation" that's happening around incumbent media mentioned above... that is technology such as that Apple, Tivo and others are developing is dragging media companies kicking and screaming into the digital domain. We have to very different ideas of innovation, which btw, is what open source, and all this open media is about. Alternative systems for communication and innovation.

Personally one of the things I'm doing is lobbying independent manufacturers of hardware (from Creative to RCA to Sony) with proposals, specs, and vision for these portable media devices. I'll do it by sharing it with anyone who'll listen (as I am right now) as well as directly approaching them. I don't expect some will listen at all, such as Sony, but I'm sure I'll be surprise. For example Sony has displayed it is quite backwards in many areas, but there are indicators, such as the RSS aggregator they built for the PSP that they may be trying to think more progressively.

Anyway, if ideas are good they spread virally, that is in an "open" network, like vlogging / blogging. This regardless of how modestly there initiated... for example, Josh Leo found this out with his "a-list vloggers" vlog back when he only had a few subscribers. Now of course he's one of the most popular vloggers.  Anyway, if ideas are interesting they bubble up.  Manufacturers aren't going to listen to individual nobodies, but blogging has a way of bubbling up ideas and getting them heard the way the vlogosphere bubbles up must watch videos and video blogs. A consensus thing.

Also, of course... I f'n love the processes by which media and messages bubble up so I'll be trying to help blip.tv and mefeedia and whoever wants help with creating the web based infrastructure and space through which media and messages find the eyeballs that want to see it. The grand vision being how videos get from the camera, through the internet and back out to any computer or portable media device anywhere in the world, that being the engineering, and how they bubble up, that being the information architecture and mediation.

Well, that was ridiculously long, but it was fun to write and I hope some people find it interesting and/or useful. Hopefully some will even vocally disagree with points in it or share their own vision.



Michael Meiser
http://mmeiser.com/backchannel - del.icio.us link blog
http://evilvlog.com - serious lunacy has a new domain



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