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Ernest Miller Ernest Miller pursues research and writing on cyberlaw, intellectual property, and First Amendment issues. Mr. Miller attended the U.S. Naval Academy before attending Yale Law School, where he was president and co-founder of the Law and Technology Society, and founded the technology law and policy news site LawMeme. He is a fellow of the Information Society Project at Yale Law School. Ernest Miller's blog postings can also be found @

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The Importance of...

August 30, 2004
Broadcatching Roundup: iPodder Opportunities, the Death of Radio, and an Enclosure DebateEmail This EntryPrint This Entry
Posted by Ernest Miller

Lots from Adam Curry today. First, he points to a couple of new domain registrations that would be of interest (RSS Progress?):


Neither has content right now and it is sort of hard to figure out who is behind them, exactly, but worth keeping track of probably. I definitely think that porn has a lot of potential as content for broadcatching - it might just be broadcatching's first killer app (RSS, BitTorrent, Broadcatching, Porn, Business Models, and Banned Music).

Curry also sees a lot of potential for broadcatching for people with disabilities (iPodder Opportunity):

It wouldn't surprise me if there were some grants waiting to be tapped for technological improvements for media distribution for peopel with disabilities. Nice that everyone can benefit from these improvements. [emphasis in original]
I completely agree that there is a great deal of potential here. Curry also points to Assistive Media, a group that could really take advantage of broadcatching, I think.
The mission of Assistive Media is to heighten the educational, cultural, and quality-of-living standard for people with disabilities and help achieve independence and become better integrated within the mainstream of society and community life in general. Assistive Media accomplishes this by providing free-of-charge, copyright-approved, high caliber audio literary works to the world-wide disability community via the Internet effectively, inexpensively, and efficiently.

Finally, Curry points to an article in The Inquirer concerning iPodder (Ipodder good fodder for MP3 heads)

This is a creative synthesis of three different technology pieces. MP3, the oldest piece, can be used to record just about any audio source, from music files to radio programs and other audio content. RSS, a "lightweight XML format," has been kicking around for a while as a way to syndicate/distribute headlines and other web content (i.e. like MP3s) between sites, as well as between web sites and end-users. Finally, the iPod is the hip little device that Apple is selling like mad.

Basically, people now have a new way to get things to listen to on their iPods, and more importantly have those things automatically delivered to their desktop computers on a regular basis through RSS. To date, when people want to get new songs or other audio files for their iPod, they have to go hunting for them. The iPodder program allows you regular subscriptions to favorite programming. For example, Mr. Curry is distributing "The Source Code," his daily 15 to 25 minute pontifications on desktop technology in MP3 format via RSS. Anyone with a favorite "voice" or radio show distributed on a regular basis that is packed into MP3 and distributed into RSS can now get those "shows" loaded.

The author is pessimistic, however, believing that Curry is an unfortunate number of years ahead of the curve. I agree he is ahead of the curve, but that is a good thing. Sure, the major media doesn't really understand what is going on, but that will keep them from screwing it up from the beginning. Remember "Active Channels" (RSS + BitTorrent Roundup - Broadcatching Isn't MS Active Channels)?

Over on Darknet, JD Lasica points out a Barron's article that points out some of the more glaring weaknesses of traditional radio and glimmers of the future (The death of radio):

Across the country, listeners are changing how they choose to receive music and news and talk radio. They are turning to portable music players like Apple Computer's iPod, streaming audio over the Internet and the emerging field of satellite radio to hear what they want, when they want to hear it.
Of course, as broadcatching develops there will be numerous debates about many of the details, and Lucas Gonze gets into one of those debates (RSS Enclosures and Playlists):
On my point "It causes users to download big files that they will never listen to or watch, creating pointless overload on web hosts," Dave says: "This is not a criticism of enclosures per se but of using aggregating enclosures on a feed where you don't want all the files. I'm aggregating 8 feeds now with get_enclosures, and all of them are ones with a high probability that I want to listen to everything."

But you, the subscriber, have no control over whether there are enclosures. If some third party puts an enclosure in their feed it
makes no difference to you, and a reasonably popular third party can easily DoS a host. RSS is a blunt instrument. Once people subscribe to a feed they let the bot do the work -- if there are enclosures involved, it doesn't make subscribers more attentive.

I blogged a proposal that auto-download via enclosures should require an opt-in from the provider site on 8/18. The other solution that I know of is swarming a la BitTorrent, but that requires the rights holder to have allowed redistribution, which is fairly rare. On a large scale, the answer is up to the rights holder: either they don't care about the cost of hosting or they allow redistribution in order to cover the cost. Take your pick, there are no other options. [link in original]

If you're interested in some of the details of future broadcatching implementation, be sure to read the whole thing.


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