Intelligent Media Sharing Gets Its Lean-Back Back

There was a post on some feed somewhere a couple of days ago saying that classical music sales haven’t been hurt at all by p2p, because no-one can be arsed downloading an opera — strikes me that there are any number of things that seriously efficient distributed chunking ala Gnougat will make possible (including pirating Tosca).

For example, the simple rsync script I have between my ripping machine and my mp3 jukebox works perfectly (chunk size == MP3 file, and plenty of wifi bandwidth), whereas the same system would fall apart for sending a movie over the public internet unless you add in decent error detection and recovery, and even better, smart caching and routing.

But rsync or similar works fine between my two machines at home for mp3 sharing, and in fact for that purpose it would work perfectly across the Net, to provide a service which in itself might form the basis for something far more interesting, if niche, than Napster — some neural network thing that categorises newly acquired music and shares it out via rsync to those of your social network the system thinks would like it. Easyish to do, and completely automagic — with something like Otto as a frontend, new stuff would just get randomly slotted into the feed that your local jukebox plays out, which would be pretty cool.

Or I can set up a local folder called ‘new stuff’ where a script automatically symlinks new music, and your machine rsyncs to that, or I have a folder called and your machine picks up new things entered there.

For me those thoughts are much more exciting than Napster and its ilk — generally I want to hear good new things I don’t know about, rather than hunting for things I already know — generally if I know about it, I’ve already got it or a simple route to it — its the unforeseen but lovely things that I want to have streaming into my jukebox…

This is an instance of something very specific I’ve been thinking about recently — I think the potential for automagic video-on-demand and streaming music (cf Tivo/Sky+ or Otto+rsync+some intelligent agents) is that these tools turn very lean-forward media experiences (multi-channel TV, MP3+time consuming p2p search), into the kind of lean-back experiences that ‘old’ TV and analogue radio have presented for most of the last century — experiences that wash over the viewer/listener, which is I think what most people actually desire from these media and their modern descendants.

Of course there’s also the meta-issue of programming — at the moment my Otto system has no idea what time of day it is, or what mood I’m in, or even what music segues well into what — metadata is important here as well. But even without, my Otto setup feels like ‘radio playing the kind of music I like’, not ‘tech I have to fight with to find things and schedule them’. The experience changes from active to environmental. Tune in and drift off. Experientially that’s a Big Important Difference.