Software developers with a penchant for all things Web 2.0 related will surely be eyeing the quickly developing Internet-driven television on-demand services such as BBC iPlayer with great interest right now.
As Britain’s use of these channels mushrooms (iPlayer usage is said to take up 10 per cent of total UK bandwidth), the evolution in the way we interact with this technology will arguably now follow some logical steps.
I use the term logical for a reason; if you spend any degree of time on the web then it’s probably likely that you engage in some form of social networking. It may be as simple as group discussion via email or engaging with some form of user group – or you may go the whole way and be a Twitter, Facebook, MySpace etc. addict with an unbridled passion for virtual networking. So is social networking about to entwine with online TV viewing? Some say it is.
' Free image: Wikimedia Commons
Although the BBC iPlayer team have come under some criticism recently, the project may be about to take its next step towards increased proximity with each and every one of us – and if you’re a software developer who is a essentially a web developer/designer, this may just be of interest.
I heard the “social networking meets online TV” theory expounded upon by the guy that runs the whole shebang, a certain Anthony Rose, the BBC’s head of digital media technology. Rose was speaking at the Adobe MAX web developer and designer conference in Milan at the start of this month.
Here’s how Rose breaks down the evolution of broadcast now that we have online TV roaming the earth as the highly developed beast that it is:
1 – Broadcast 1.0: black and white and then eventually colour TV that was pumped into our living rooms on fewer channels that you or I have digits on our hands. Essentially, the BBC decided what we watch.
2 – Broadcast 1.5: online TV has arrived and we can view what we want when we want to. Essentially, we decide what we watch.
3 – Broadcast 2.0: social networking becomes a part of the online TV experience and you engage with your friends to build their recommended choices into your viewing programme. Essentially, we decide what we watch along with a little help from our friends.
Notably, (and again this is something for developers to embrace if they work in this arena) you’ll be able to watch the first half of the news online, then catch up on what you missed on a mobile device while you are sat on your train on the way to the office. So Broadcast 2.0 straddles devices then too.
To make all this happen, the BBC has nestled even closer to Adobe’s stack and is in the process of upgrading its systems to the cross-platform world of Adobe AIR (Adobe Integrated Runtime). Something that will provide, the BBC hopes, the public with the requisite level of compatibility across Windows and Mac OS based machines.
So is iPlayer on Adobe AIR good news? Well, yeah – what’s not to like? I’d like to suggest that it finally makes our overpriced TV license worthwhile. Will developers be drawn to the opportunities to build social networking style web apps that integrate with iPlayer? I’d like to suggest that they probably will.
But are social networking driven recommendations a good thing for my future viewing prospects? Hell no thanks. Firstly, I don’t want everyone to know that my favourite programmes are Ray Mears and Bear Grylls (oh damn! it’s out now!) and secondly, I really don’t want to hear about Strictly Come Dancing and the X-factor to be honest.