Radical media, politics and culture.

Onwards to DIY Internet TV

Although much attached to the book as container and conduit of knowledge, the primacy of audio-visual communication as a mass-form appears to me undeniable. Over the last thirty years numerous groups have attempted to make independent critical television a reality using every means available, from hacking the cable system, to mobile pirate transmission stations, the movement for community cable access etc.

The proliferation of satellite broadcasters in recent years has produced its own new efforts such as Free Speech TV and WorldLink TV. The possibility to virtualise resources howver opens new vistas to the fulfilment of this modern chimera, without the high expense satellite broadcasting still enatils.

A broadstrokes outline of such a system would be the following. Video files would be inserted into the system following the edonkey/freenet model. A portal would provide information on the latest releases with links to the public keys or cryptographic hash required to source the necessary packet blocks on the network. All portal entries would be stored in a searchable database environment. This is basically the way in which the sharereactor and filedonkey portals currently function anyway, so there's little of novelty here. Users could search for content that interests them, download it either to their own hard disk or to a collectively controlled larger disk (for later distribution over 802.11b for example, check out some its transfer benchmarks), which would probably be a more 'efficient' manner to do it, if the collective action problems can be overcome.

The portal would also ensure that file was available off a minimum number of sources, a task at which the indepndent and critical community should be most adept, being already networked to a very high degree. A system of co-operative and reciprocal infrstructure sharing in fact sits easily with the culture of independent film prodiuction and political action particularyy, both of which cultures have an extraordinary reliance on intra community protocols orf reciprocity and voluntarism. As unused bandwidth and memory are effectively dead and wasted resources, which are paid for whether exploited or not, this should be the easy part.

Thereafter it's just a matter of configuring some scheduling software to set up a playlist for yourself, presuming that is that you want to retain some aspect of the TV model (which might be useful for regularised news etc). Check out my friends Adam and Honor's scheduling software for radioaquila.

All this ranting may make me appear some type of techno-messianist, but it's really just the fact that space has opened up in this area whilst other technologies have remianed closed. Nonetheless, one can easily envisage such a system working in conjunction with community access cable, local terrestrial trnasmission and the distribution of content over DVD through a traditional magazine network.

Many of the independent producers and directors that we have discussed this with have reacted positively, as this ssytem offers them the cchance to leverage peer network popularity towards the ultimate commercial licensing of their materials to a traditional big-buck broadcaster.

Ironically, the current machinations of the MPAA in their crackdown on moviesharing may backfire in favour of the independent sector. Now that a sector of the population has accustomed itself to sharing, and acquired the necessary knowledge to do so, the ground has been seeded for such a use of resources in a more general manner. If it becomes truely difficult to swao commercial releases, users could be enticed to turn their attention to non-studio works.