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December 12, 2003
Fight the Broadcast Flag - Give TiVos as Holiday Presents This Year
Using a TiVo is a conversion experience. It transforms the way you interact with broadcast media and creates entirely new expectations regarding entertainment, even more so, in many ways, than MP3 players. This is why I am excited by a number of reports this week regarding personal media recorders, such as a story in Newsday that notes a high demand for DirecTV set-top boxes that include TiVo (TiVo-Based Set-Top Boxes in High Demand).
I'm excited because everyone I know who uses TiVo won't go back to traditional television viewing. Simply using TiVo creates consumer expectations that are going to run smack dab into the anti-consumer mandates of the broadcast flag. Sure, the FCC says that the broadcast flag won't inhibit uses consumers have today, but it does and will. People habituated to the ease of use of TiVo, of burning shows to DVD, of networking television throughout the home, are in for a rude awakening when the broadcast flag takes effect. Frankly, there are going to be some seriously inconvenienced consumers come July 2005 and I would hate to be the politician on the other end of their anger. I can see the bumper stickers now: The FCC can have my TiVo when the pry it from my cold dead fingers.
Of course, the more people habituated to TiVo, the bigger the resulting backlash, which is why I recommend giving TiVos as holiday gifts for all your TiVo-less friends and family (there is a good chance it will be the best gift they get this season). I'm not really a big believer in consumerism ... but sometimes consumerism and activitism go hand in hand.
Of course, I'm using TiVo in the generic sense. Add the homemade touch (like those holiday cards you made from posterboard, glue and sparkles in elementary school) by building your friends an open source TiVo (Freevo, MythTV, KnoppMyth, XMLTV). By the way, MythTV explicitly supports the pcHDTV card and undoubtedly will support software HDTV as well (GNU Radio: Hacking the RF Spectrum with Free Software and Hardware).
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