Posted by: antyx | February 26, 2008

Open Web TV Platform: A New Idea Is Born


Idea

Official project wiki: http://openwebtvplatform.wikidot.com

Open Web TV Platform: This idea has been floating in my mind for some time now. This article is the 1st pre-stage in order to outline this idea, which will lead to the creation of the above wiki and when approved all the below content will be copied into 3rd person, laying the foundation for developing this service. The need of building this wiki is required in order to form collaboratively the idea behind this web service, an idea i have been thinking of, working as an early think tank, examining all the technological implications and aspects of it. This projects although its concept is expanded below, may need some extra expertise from people who have collaborated in creating opensource services and drawing the needed attention to this project so as they can build the appropriate team of developers. Because i don’t have the appropriate developing and financial abilities in order to make it, so i thought since i am aware of how open source is successful in achieving various services and software, i started this wiki as an idea mockup of this service: The Open Web TV Platform. This web service will be a blend of many unsuccessful web services that exist today in the internet, thus making a more user interactive web based platform for watching online video content. It’s key elements will possibly be the following: Consistent and easy to use fullscreen flash interface for watching online web TV content, semi automatic and smart choosing of the content, user content submissions, content is feeded from 3rd party video hosting websites, full rss syndication expanding its overall uses, community driven and opensource, collaboratively built. I have made the following categories in order to explain this concept with examples of existing websites:

Interface

This is the most important element of this potential service. Various web video technologies exist today (Quicktime, WMP Embeded video, Flash, Java) though Adobe Flash based video is most widely used by major video hosting websites. So i speculate that Flash is the most appropriate interface to use. Today many websites and services exist that use a fullscreen flash interface which show web video content. Some examples are the following: http://tubecast.tv, http://www.neave.tv, Joost Flash Version, http://www.xplsv.tv as well as many plenty more i am not aware of. For me the most clean cut and promising flash interface is tubecast.tv, which on mouse hovering shows an interactive menu with the next videos, dynamicly building the timeline. It probably is inspired by TiVO and other TV set-top platform’s interfaces which record digital content. Another worth mentioning web service that comes really close to my idea, which i discovered after conceiving it a year ago is FeedBeat. In simple terms it is a Video CMS, with a very effective flash interface. Though the content is not dynamically built and each channel provides a linear end user video choosing ability. It resembles a youtube channel, with a single user’s picked content, which streams through the FeedBeat interface, feed through the original video hosting page. This service provides RSS syndication features, making it able to connect via feed with Miro, an opensource IPTV viewing platform. FeedBeat strangely enough resembles my idea, though its content can only by viewed in user created channels, and does not provide an end user interactivity as the content is concerned

Content Source

After several years since the 1st video hosting services appeared, thousand of user and TV network video productions have been widely available online. A great example is Youtube, Google Video, which hosts the biggest part of the online video content. Somehow though it is pretty hard to choose from quality content and quality productions, thats why many catalogs and linksites have appeared like: http://www.alluc.org, http://www.moviesfoundonline.com, http://www.peekvid.com and many other that list TV content and public domain video links, that are available online reducing the effort of having to search them. Some of them are hand picked from the webmaster and some rely on its community. The technology they use is rather simple but effective, just acting like a catalog of picked video links. So the Open Web TV Platform will be able to build its database, or even use one of them through rss from catalogs and then feeded through its interface.

Smart Content Choosing

Another potential aspect of the Open Web TV Platform, will be the smart content choosing ability. The whole idea is not to use a linear content system like classic TV or a simple playlist, but rather a nor linear and affective way of doing so. Examples of this technology is the last.fm radio and the video feature of the social bookmarking services. To make it short, these services learn from what you watch/listen to and adapt to your personal interests, without limiting your content. This feature will be the key to its success, and will make it differ from the rest flash video services. Firstly last.fm is a very mature web services that is labeled as a music community, with useful and personalized features. After submitting your the music you listen to it builds around you a smart personalized content system, proving you with a non-linear radio, event listing, user listing and music recommendation, all according to your listening habits. Social bookmarking services also use a smart content system, specializing on bookmarks, which include wiki’s, videos, blogs and much more. It also learns from what you like and not. To be honest i have only be using a social bookmarking service for a short while now, compared to last.fm so i may be not fully aware of it potentials. Another potential feature based on last.fm’s artist connections, would be the new feature of videos, linked from youtube to each artists page. This will provide the information on building on demand music channels, with a high accuracy on artists & music relativity, enabling it to easily build dynamic music channels

Community

Another key element of the Open Web TV Platform, is its community, one of the reasons of the success of Web 2.0 services. This service will rely on its own registered users, on users who originally provide this content on the video hosting websites this interface feeds from (youtube, google video users), as well as video cataloging pages and offcourse from its developing community which will make its sevice possible. The end users, which will be a part of its community will build up their likes and dislikes through time, being able to submit themselves links with content. Offcourse a great extent on freedom of this service’s will be provided, though security is always an issue with web services

Price
The short answer to the answer of how much will it cost the end user is: it will be Free. The most successful internet services have no price tag, but nevertheless achieve in various ways to gain profit through time. The Open Web TV Platform could not be an exception to this rule, where profits will eventualy build up through personalized advertising (Adsense), subscriptions with extra features or instead by donations.

Open

I have personally been involved with open software and open services for some time now, and apart from them being a moral and efficient way of building software or information tanks, it is in my case a good and feasable way of building the Open Web TV Platform i have in mind. Personaly the practically benefits of open technologies i have known are by using the following: Joomla Opensource CMS when building my brothers website http://www.downhill.gr a Greek Cycling Community, Ubuntu Linux Desktop OS which was the distro which made me do the linux switch and also plenty of open web services like Wikipedia and communities which have inrichened my knowledge or content i use. I have not participated in any other opensource projects apart from partial translations of Joomla components or various wiki’s submissions, so i don’t know how this collaboration works and to what extent it is effective. I have plenty of examples of successful opensource products so it leeds me to believe that it is feasible. Opensource technologies do work, are wide spread and are free (as in freedom and in money terms)

Technology and Feasibility

The most important part on building this service are the technologies that should be used. Although i am a graduate of an Informatics and Multimedia course i have not wide experience on building from scratch such a complex service. I’ll have to rely on the knowhow of the opensource community out there in the cyberspace, and i bet there is many regarding the quality of the end open products i personally use. Offcourse a Linux Based hosting service should be used, but the biggest cost would be in human work hours. I am willing to spend my time on this project but i like previously mentioned i have no core developing skills whatsoever. Making a rough guess the technologies/skills required are: Adobe Flash, PHP, MySQL, Ajax, XML as well as a lot of documenting, organizing and financial planing. In addition plenty apart from open web technologies, plenty of CMS’s and premade pieces of software could be used that are under the GNU/GPL license. This category, i guess needs a lot of expanding when the wiki of this project is approved

Financial Support

Offcourse programmers and people generally involved need money to live so this is an issue. Open source services and products in most cases are free of charge to the end users, so there are others ways of gaining financial backup. One way is by 3rd party funding, donating and advertisements. On the first developing stage i guess it will rely on funding it from co-minded companies that profit from opensource. Offcourse on laying out this project financial needs and goals in order to make it reality a project/financial manager should give us our advice. On the long term a successful reciepy of gaining financial support is by end user subscriptions with extra features and advertisement

Software Applications
An obvious application which will use this service is a web browser with Flash and Javascript enabled, thus making it automatically cross platform. A web browser (Firefox, Internet Explorer, Opera) is the most widespread web tool used today and comes preinstalled with popular OS’s like Windows, MacOSX and Ubuntu Linux. It will be the main tool in order to support this service’s flash interface. Also the RSS feed technology has a broad range of uses, from news reading to watching online Video. Miro can clearly show that potential,using it as an online web video content feeder and viewer. Web widgets are also used for displaying video. An actual software application is also feasible, using preexisting open technologies like the VLC Video engine and Miro, thus making a Joost like interface. It will not rely mainly on the software application because the cross platform supporting of it will cost and will not provide the initial boost this service would require.

This article is not by any means final and is just a first mockup of this service’s concept. Please check the official Wiki of this project and please contribute your ideas and knowhow if you want to be a part of it, thus making it able to build the final concept of this project, so developing can start.

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