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Thinking about time shifting and live, real time streams

The very first time I used a DVR I was hooked. The DVR was more than just a glorified VCR. It was something completely new and refreshing. Beyond season events or one click recording, I could actually pause live tv. Or I could go back 30 seconds. Or I could record a show and then start watching the show 25 minutes later so I could catch up in real time by skipping all of the ads.

Absolutely amazing.

The DVR also came at the same time broadband was being deployed. As users we expected to have an always on connection to the web and everything on the web was unicast and on-demand by design. There was no such thing as an appointment web or Must See TV online. And the DVR brought that on-demand, time shifted experience to our big screen.

But it’s interesting to think that as television copied some of the web’s best behaviors, the web went real time. For some television shows, time shifting is far less interesting because we are now plugged into real time information networks like Twitter & Facebook. For example, I used to DVR football games but that’s harder to do nowadays.

The web now also has many more real time activies beyond Twitter & Facebook. Online games aren’t merely turn based but they are social and real time. CNN and others stream live online. MLB streams live. The other other day YouTube streamed the U2 concert live. The Presidential inauguration was steamed live. The list goes on and on.

But the real time web vs the real time broadcast television model in reality couldn’t be any different. The real time web is a two way network. It’s social. It’s a la carte. It’s comes with a permalink. It can be indexed, saved, copied, and blogged. It can be retweeted. It has super distribution built into it’s guts.