1 Nummer Where T elevision and I nter net meet New experiences for rich media Harry van Vliet P DF -ver s ie S ummar y Alongs ide the development of a next generation Internet, there is als o the pr omise of a next generation television. W hereas next gener at ion I nternet will give us broadband acces s and Quality of S er vice, next generation television strives towards interactivity and connectivity. I n short, they both 'long for' what the ot her medium alr eady possesses. T his means TV and I nternet will meet somewhere and in this meeting place new devices and services breed. Some w ill s ink into oblivion, others will survive and mutate T V or Internet into s omet hing new. One possible cr iter ium to predict the outcome is the ques t ion whether or not these new services offer new experiences for cons umer s. S amenvatting Naas t de ontw ikkeling van een volgende gener at ie I nter net is er ook de ver w achting van een volgende gener atie televisie. Daar waar de volgende generatie I nter net ons meer bandbreedte zal geven en de bet r ouw baar heid zal vergroten, daar streeft de volgende gener atie t elevis ie naar interactiviteit en connectiviteit. Kortom, beide media 'ver langen' naar wat het andere medium momenteel kenmerkt. Dit bet ekent dat TV en Internet elkaar gaan 'raken', en op dat raakvlak ont w ikkelen zich nieuwe appar aten en diensten. Sommige van deze z ullen in de vergetelheid r aken, maar andere zullen overleven en T V of Internet muteren in iets nieuws. Een mogelijk criterium om de uit koms t van deze ontw ikkeling te voorspellen is de vr aag of deze nieuw e diensten nieuwe er var ingen zullen opleveren voor de cons ument.
2 I nt r oduct ion T he st ill acceler at ing digitalisation of content is without doubt having it s effect on the w ay we look at and (re)use content. T his digit alis at ion brings about new reservoirs of content that can be eas ily manipulated, distributed and reused. T he ever -evolving web of t he I nter net boosts the acces s ibility of these lar ge quantities of digit al content on a s cale never seen before. W hile t he incr easing bandw idt h ensures that there is virtually no limit on what is accessible thr ough the I nter net, such as streaming audio and video. Cont ent itself is becoming more and more an integration of media like t ext, audio and video, that is rich media, still further 'enriched' with met adat a. T his addition of metadata f acilit at es content management and the development of new services in the complet e lifecycle of econt ent : from adaptation to disclosure and consumption (van Vliet, 2001a). I t is this sheer amount of digital content and rich media w hich is becoming mor e globally available by the minute that is going t o have a major impact (van Vliet et al., 2000). Especially since such an 'old' medium as television is jumping on the bandw agon with dif f er ent countries (US, UK) for instance phasing out analogue dis t r ibut ion channels and replacing them with digital distribution channels (satellite, cable and terrestrial). Digit alisation though is a t echnological innovation and it would be a mis t ake t o view and offer it as a ser vice, as some Dutch cable companies keep insisting on doing. I n fact the abundance of digital cont ent is not necessarily a benefit. T wo arguments can be given. F ir s t of all, time is scarce for consumers to 'process' increasing amount s of (digital) content. T his is for instance due to an acceler at ion in the over all 'speed of living' (Gleick, 2000). T rends and hypes are tumbling over one anot her. T he mar ket does not seem to keep up w ith consumers needs and wishes, and yet consumers are over w helmed with everything that is thrown at them as being 'the lat es t ', 'newest' or whatever. T he time to 'make it' seems to shorten ever y generation, no longer a long-t ime career with a single company but job-hopping to score before turning thirty-five. T he social appr eciat ion of having a r ich life, 'forces' one t o not only have a job and be a f amily man but also to work-out, participate in all kinds of committees and so on. Precious time must be divided among so many dif f er ent social roles. Secondly, more content does not automatically mean more inter esting content, which is what consumers want. After all, people are mor e and more articulating their individual needs and w is hes in all areas of society: regarding wor k (individually tailored labour contracts), in financial matters (pension arrangements, ins ur ance contr acts), living environment (need for diversity of homes ), the consuming of goods (microsegmentation of markets), et cet er a. Mass-customisation is the w ord that captures the commercial s t r at egy to this (Pine & Gilmore, 1988). So, the consumer is faced w it h a s ignif icant challenge: the incr easing amount of digital content t hat has the potential of being of interest for him, and the decreasing amount of time to spend together with the w ish to have individually t ailor ed content. I ndividually tailored content usage means that consumers can choose not only which content he w ants, but also from whom he obtains it and on what terms. T his tailoring can involve different aspects like t he r ole of the consumer, the location, time, terminal and quality of s er vice. For instance an electronic n ew s paper of a bus ines s person could be tailor ed to the location (local news), time (morning edition,
3 evening edition), terminal (latest stock exchange new s on a mobile phone, background story on e-book), role (business news versus leis ur e and entertainment news) and quality of service (low quality pict ur es on Personal Digital Assistants versus streamed videoclips to home storage device). But tailoring of content might be just one need or wish of the consumer, maybe in the end he is searching for memor able experiences or even lifetime tr ansfor mations (Pine & Gilmor e, 1999). T his addr esses the question of the value of (digital) cont ent (section 1). When we have some idea w hat consumers appr eciat e, we can look into the differ ent ways new products and s er vices are tr ying to meet these r equir ements. T his paper focuses on how two 'channels' for rich media, television and I nternet, are developing to meet new consumer's needs. T his will be done by s ket ching new developments in television (section 2) and next gener at ion I nternet (section 3). Currently both channels are lacking s omet hing, it will be argued that Internet has the spir it but not yet t he means and television has the means but not yet the spir it to offer new services. T his will lead us to the meeting place: the place w her e cr os s over devices and concepts breed. I will describe some of these devices and concepts (section 4). As a kind of wrap up on the sur vival changes of certain 'mutations' the question of convergence is addr es s ed in section 5. I will end with a shor t discussion. I. T he dr ive tow ar ds experiences I n first instance digital T V was just that, the same television pr ogr ams but with better picture and sound quality. I t didn't work, becaus e w hat is the added value of watching Sesame S tr eet with better sound quality? Digital T V took off when new services, like E lect r onic P r ogr am Guides (EPG) and Video-on-Demand (VoD), were offered. T his raises the question of the value of content or more s pecif ic digit al content. One w ay of answering this question is r ef er r ing to the w ork of Pine & Gilmore (1999) on the experience economy. W ithin going into too much detail, Pine & Gilmore answ er t he question of how to meet the needs of consumers. T hey state that a new economy is forming, one in which a cust omer wants more t han 'jus t ' a pr oduct, instead they want an experience, that which makes a las t ing impression. Moreover, the consumer is willing to pay for this. As such it builds upon commodities, goods and services. T he simple but powerful statement by Pine & Gilmore is as follows: I f you charge f or stuff, then you are in the commodity business; if you charge for t angible t hings, then you are in the goods business, if you charge for t he activities you performs, then you are in the ser vice business, if you charge for the t ime customers spend with you, than and only t hen are you in the exper ience business. Each one is more r elevant f or the consumer and ther efor he is willing to pay more for it. As a bus ines s the competitive edge follow s the same line: the best opportunity for providing consumer s with what they truly want is an exper ience ( see F igur e 1). F igur e 1: Experiences as value of econtent
4 P ine & Gilmore dr aw from a r ich and var ied mix of examples that s how cas e businesses that are cr eating experiences, from Disney w or ld to America Online. An analysis on how their ideas hold up in the cont ext of for instance I nter net is beyond the scope of this article.( 1 ) B ut two examples can be easily given. For video streaming one can t hink of raw footage (commodity) - edited video (good) - search s er vice (service) and a choice of camera pos it ion (experience). Or in cas e of the w eb: HT ML (commodity) - a w eb page (good) - a sear ch s er vice (service) and a st or y (experience).( 2 ) In general aspects such as interactivity, communication, omnipresence, the five senses and s t or y-t elling ar e among the ingr edients to invoke exper ience on the I nt er net and television (van Vliet, 2001a/b). I t is these kinds of ingr edient s next generation television and I nternet are exploiting in t heir quest for keeping the eyeballs firmly fixed to the scr een. I n the f ollow ing two sections I will explore these developments in television and I nternet. II. T elevision: this time it's personal I n the 60 year or so period that television has been with us as a mas s medium, there have been a r ange of refinements of the television s ys t em. Most importantly the sw itch from mechanical television s ys t ems in the 1 920s and early 1930s (such as TV systems introduced by Nipkov, Baird and Jenkins) to electronic t elevis ion in the late 1930s, which made use of a cat hode r ay tube or CRT (such as TV s ys t ems introduced by Zworykin and F ar nsw orth). A most 'visible' t r ans it ion was the one fr om black-and-white to colour, which r equir ed the purchase of a new TV set and required broadcasters to acquir e new production and transmission equipment. Furthermore t her e w as the addition of peripherals such as videocassette r ecorder s ( VCR ), remote contr ols (first still attached to the T V, later completely w ir eles s ) ( 3 ), and further enhancements of the television and its s er vices, such as teletext in the 1970s and stereo sound in the 1980s. T oday we see another transition: the migr at ion from traditional ( analogue) TV to digital T V, requiring sw itching to advanced digital plat f or ms. Basically this transition is a t r ans it ion of technology: from analogue to digital. But the consequences are far -r eaching and go
5 beyond the mer ely technical. T he changes digital television brings about are, among others: high speed data t r ans f er rates, making the deliver y of rich multimedia cont ent a r eality; the br oadening of the s cope of 'broadcasters' towards Internet service pr ovider s, s t imulat ing the conver gence of Internet content and T V broadcasting, mult iplicat ion of the number of programmes, better quality, condit ional access, and possibilities for broadcasting to small devices and television receivers in vehicles. T his transformation will be mor e impor t ant than the pr evious global upheavals in television, such as t he sw itch for black-and-white to colour, because it will affect the cont ent, economics and politics of the t elevision business, or rather t he content business, all over the w orld. W ith regard to this latter, new services are (again!) surfacing such as enhanced television, int er act ive television and per sonal television. I will discuss these new s er vices after a s hor t expose on digital television and set-top boxes. Analogue television is heading tow ar ds the museum. T he last decade has seen major changes in the manner in which the electr ical equivalent of the television picture is generated, recorded, t r ans mitted and processed.( 4 ) Digital video as such can be defined as a means of describing the continuous analogue video waveform as a s t r eam of digital numbers: in zeros and ones. Although the ter m digit al television or Digital Video Broadcasting (DVB ) is not typically us ed to refer to just the digitisation that is the pr oduction process, but also to the dist r ibution process (satellite, terrestrial, cable and w ir eles s cable ( 5 ) and the presentation and interfacing on terminal devices. Alt hough digital 'devices' (television, audio, and camera's) are s omew hat new, digital sampling techniques are not. One pr oblem t hough was that the digitised str eam required mor e bandw idth than t he analogue signal, which made the technique uneconomical until, in t he last quarter of the 20 t h cent ur y, effective t echniques for compr es s ing digital signals evolved (W inston, 1998). But from early days, it was already clear digital signals had several advantages over t heir analogue counterparts. For instance, compared to an analogue s ys t em there ar e several advantages in using digital video equipment ( R obin & Poulin, 2000): A digitised video signal is immune to analogue signal beyond t he inher ent distortions generated by the analogue-to-digital ( A/ D) and digital-to-analogue (D/ A) conversion process. Digit al video equipment can perform efficiently and economically tasks that are difficult or impossible to perform us ing analogue video technology. Digit is ed video signals are amenable to the application of t echniques for retention of essential information such as compr es s ion. Digit al television is the successor of analogue t elevision and although a new technology its roots in many ways are in analogue television: t he br oadcast ing infrastructure, the commer cial exploitation, the mar ket penetration of television, and the view ing behaviour of people s itting in front of a t elevision. T oget her with digital television the set-top box has sneaked into the home envir onment. A set-top box is an interface or gateway device
6 t hat sits between available content that is 'out there' and a home device like the television. Set-top boxes can serve as a gat ew ay for cont ent available t hr ough satellite, terrestrial transmission, cable and/ or (broadband) networks. I ts main feature is to decode the incoming (digital) signal and translate it into a for mat that can be view ed on a t elevis ion screen. Most current set top boxes have analogue signals as input. Set-top boxes are not new in that regard, t hey have alr eady been with us for many years. T he fir st generation of set-top boxes were capable of only receiving and unscr ambling analogue tr ansmissions and displaying the r esults on the T V set. Moder n versions of these still analogue-based set-top boxes contain mor e advanced features and allow TV viewers acces s to a limit ed number of interactive ser vices (order a film, voting, play along with games ). T he second gener ation of set-top boxes was directed at receiving digit al T V signals and thereby giving access to a r ange of digital T V s er vices. Although most of them are also capable of receiving and pr oces s ing analogue signals. A typical second-generation set-top box w ill perform basic MP E G decoding, have a low -cost CPU (Central P r ocessing Unit), a minimum amount of memory (say 1 Megabyte), a low bandwidth return channel such as a t elephone modem and limited support for connecting the set-top box to peripherals and r emot e devices (O'Driscoll, 2000). At the end of the 20 t h cent ur y a t hir d generation of set-top boxes emerged. T hese set-top boxes push t he inter act ivity further by adopting a number of PC-like featur es, s uch as high-speed data int er faces, large amount of memory (8 to 64 Megabyt es ), a pow er ful CPU, high-speed return channel and the ability to process multimedia-based content. W ith these devices the T V viewer has access to a r ange of TV- and I nternet applications: T V mail, video on demand, home shopping, multi-user games, electronic pr ogr am guides (EPG's) and interactive advertisements to name a f ew (O'Driscoll, 2000).( 6 ) S et -t op boxes are quickly evolving from simple gat ew ays for des cr ambling television signals towards powerful devices for interactive s er vices. A r ecent step toward this has been the int r oduct ion of the P er s onal Digital Recorder or PDR, a consumer device that includes high capacity disk storage. Commercial examples include T ivo, R eplayt V and UltimateT V ( 7 ). PDRs give consumer s the opportunity to 't ime-s hif t '; i.e. to watch what they want, when they want. More impor t ant ly, such PDRs come w it h specific s er vices for per s onalis at ion: like an Electronic P r ogr am Guide (E P G) that shows ( f iltered) information and gives suggestions on possibly interesting cont ent. T he addition of a back channel provides a mechanism to allow for commercial services including storage, targeted adver t is ement s and profile management. At first glance a P DR is nothing more than a super -videor ecor der with es s ent ially the same 'timeshift ing' functionality. Of course the digital f or mat and the inst ant acces s of the har d-disk gives the P DR some pr of ound extensions to basic VCR functionality such as: I f joining a ( live) program halfway, the syst em is able to capt ur e the content from the beginning. Cont inue r ecor ding a pr ogr am even when it may jump channels.
7 R ecor d a pr ogr am/ adver t is ement on a bas is of now, when it is on for next 'x' shows, all episodes, just the highlight s, record t he next trailer, etcetera. Repeats or the same t r ansmission on ot her channels are r esolved. P aus e a live event and return to it later. Related to this, be able t o fast forward back to real time or to skip forward through index points. I ns t ant fast-forward and rewind (the latter also in live pr ogr ams ). S imult aneous record and playback. H ow ever, this "super-vcr" functionality can hardly be the dr iving f or ce for consumers to buy a new device. What can distinguish the P DR from the VCR, though, is its usability. How many VCR-displays don't display 'set clock', because t he consumer has given up on pr ogr amming the device? T he P DR instead offers an easy interface by means of an EPG. Consumers can browse thr ough the EP G and record s how s by interacting w ith the EP G gr id. I t is easy ('clicking') and r eminds us of using a r egular printed T V guide. Moreover, if per s onalis at ion is incorporated, all kinds of user support services can be envisioned, for instance: B uild your own T V guide- so there ar e few er things to look at. T his can be based on genre, time, channel, date, sub-genre s pecif ic, or any combination thereof, or on already pre-filtered cont ent that the user profile has created. Make use of channels of pre-filtered content, third parties offering 'best-of' from all content providers they cover, or pref or matted EPGs based on viewer preferences. H ighlight (e.g. use of colours) of favourite pr ogr ams in the pr ogr am overview. T he pr olifer ation of digital technologies has sparked off numerous s of t w ar e and hardwar e t echnologies that position the set top box and t he P DR as a gat ew ay for digital broadcasting and broadband I nt er net. Moreover, it drives a demand for new services like storage management, interactivity, personalisation, et cetera, which will push it s role even further (see section I V). For now we w ill look at three concept s that have emerged and ar e captur ing this sense of new s er vices and a new usage of television. ( 8 ) E nhanced T V E nhanced television is a s er vice in which a r egular television program is enriched with additional information and extr a opt ions that can be act ivat ed by the view er. Enhanced T V builds upon services like t elet ext by providing additional information on the television screen. T his is done by using the so-called vertical blanking interval in the T V. ( 9 ) This is the inter val during a t elevis ion signal where the picture is blank, although not visible for the human eye, and data can be t r ans mitted. T his 'Trojan horse' can carry enough information to enhance the T V experience. I t can lead to a new experience of t elevis ion watching because ther e is seemingly interaction with the t elevis ion. But this interaction is limited to choosing fr om a s mall
8 number of choices that are alr eady there, that is in the br oadcasted s ignal that every viewer receives. T hes e enhancement appear as graphical and sometime pur ely inf or mat ional elements on the scr een overlaying the actual program: " T o understand what these gr aphical elements looks like, visualise t he w ay semi-transparent banners with statistics printed on them dur ing basketball games, car racing, or golf tournaments appear on T V now. During a r ecent broadcast of the Milwaukee 250 car race, for ins t ance, semi-tranparent graphical boxes appeared from time to t ime featur ing information about which drivers were in the lead, their backgr ound, racing factoids, speed statistics, the commentator s peaking, and other informational tidbits." (Swedlow, 2000) A similar example can be t aken from the pilots done in Australia. I n December 2000 ICE Interactive and free-to-air broadcaster WIN T elevision made television history when the first enhanced television pr ogr amme in Australia w as broadcast. An episode of travel pr ogr amme " Dest inations" was researched, filmed and jointly pr oduced by W I N T V and I CE. T his programme featur ed the city of H ong Kong and the ' interactive' element of the broadcast provided addit ional information about the city for pilot participants to explore. T he topics included history, shopping and geography to name a few ( s ee F igur e 2). Anot her example is by the B B C w ho offers viewers with digital s at ellit e (S ky) TV access to a new BBC W im bledon 'interactive' s er vice: it allows viewers to select the match they want to watch from a choice of up to five live contests at any time via a mult is cr een devis ed by BBC New Media ( F igur e 2). Acces s ing the service is s t r aight f or w ar d: while w atching coverage on digital BBC 1 or 2, view er s are pr ompted to press the r ed button on their handset. T his t akes them through to the B B C W im bledon I nteractive mult iscr een. I n addit ion to the live match broadcast on the main channel, viewers will have access to a fur t her four live matches. Live commentary accom pan ies each match, and each screen has its own dynamically updat ed scoreboard. Digital T errestrial (ONdigital) viewers can acces s t he BBC W im bledon I nteractive enhanced text service. I t features s t at is t ic, features, comments and player profiles to keep viewers abr eas t of the lat est news from the Championships. Viewers have access to this information while still watching the live action unfold in quar t er -s cr een. As the only UK broadcaster with digital T V services on all three major platforms, the B B C is also offering a new BBC W imbledon I nteractive service for Digital Cable view ers. A W imbledon 2001 section has been created specially for the championships offering T elewest and NT L Cable customer s, among others, scores and results, headlines, statistics and message boards. F igur e 2: Examples of enhanced T V
10 clos ed-capt ioning data, tested for quality assurance, and then encoded to master tape. As each episode air s, the triggers are br oadcas t along with the r egular video feed and are r eceived by view er s ' set-top boxes. T he t r igger s direct the set-top box to display and hide gr aphics and text in the I T V Game E ngine, and they enable and disable buttons, answers, and so on in sync w it h the " game event s " in the show. A database server handles back-end data management for both shows. T hese high-speed and highly scalable s er ver s can handle millions of simultaneous users. When viewers r egis t er for play, post a high score, or click on interactive ads airing dur ing the show s, the database server manages and routes this inf or mat ion appropriately. P er s onal T V P er s onal television is aimed at supporting a consumer in dealing with t he huge amount of content that is available and which the consumer w ant s to 'confront' on his own terms. T his on the one hand means t hat the consumer wants control over time: it is about not being a s lave to a s chedule but watching television at any given moment. T he VCR springs to mind as a device t hat already supporting this t imes hif t ing aspect. T he selling point of current PDRs is therefore not s o much the concept of timeshifting as well as its usability: it is easy t o use and contains enough intelligence to do some w or k for the cons umer, like record favourite show s when not at home. On the ot her hand this means that content is presented in the w ay the cons umer wants; for one thing, that non-interesting content is f iltered out and content is ordered in a s pecif ic w ay. T he E P G is a clear implementation of this. So, Personal T V is a s er vice that s uppor t s timeshifting and the adaptation of information on television pr ogr ams to the consumer 's preferences and interests, in which us ability is a key factor. P er s onalis at ion of TV (guides) is done by using profiles. ( 11 ) A T V view er is associated w ith a us er profile t hat contains information on: U s er s ' preferences for certain T V shows (e.g. game show s, document ar y's, soaps) U s er s ' interests (e.g. classical music, sports, cooking, African elephant s ) U s er s ' viewing behaviour (like w hich shows did he w atch and f or how long: viewing history) R at ing information (did he like t he show : T ivo's thumbs up / t humbs down feedback) U s er characteristics (e.g. gender, age) T as k/ goal characteristics (e.g. leisure, information seeking, ent er t ainment ). B as ed on this user profile an agent or content service pr ovider (if access to profile infor mation is permitted by the user ) can support t he view er in the follow ing w ay, all of which should lead to a mor e s at is f ying viewing exper ience: S uggestions for interesting to watch/ record T V programs
11 F iltering and/ or prioritising of programs shown in the EP G F ilter pushed content like adver t isement s and trailers T une in automatically to favourite channels, programs, sports commentator, et cetera S et interface options as language, 'skin' of EPG, audio option f or the visually disabled, et cetera R ecor d programs on behalf of the view er, for instance a complet e ser ies of a s how the view er likes (e.g. all episodes of 'F r as ier ' or 'Buffy, T he vampire slayer')' while t aking into accou nt for instance reruns. T VGat ew ay ( 1 2 ) is an example of an I nteractive P r ogr am Guide (I P G) s er vice that provides cable oper ator s with control over their digital s et -t op boxes and gives cable cust omer s an personalised T V viewing and navigation experience. T he t hin-client architecture utilised by T VGat ew ay provides quick and easy access to program listings w it hout consuming valuable set-top box resources. T he open platform des ign of TVGateway means it can operate on a w ide var iety of sett op boxes, including today's widely deployed digital boxes. Finally, t he fully customisable look-and-feel of TVGateway lets the cable oper at or create an attractive fully branded progr am guide that is cons is t ent with other interactive services. Features include, among ot her s : different listing categories accessed via a s ingle button press, mult iple mini-pages of program information via I NF O key, access to all integrated applications on the set-top, such as Internet and Videoon-Demand (VOD), and preferences menu for selecting language, keyboar d and date for mats (see F igur e 3) F igur e 3: Example of interactive pr ogr am guide Anot her example is SingulariS ( 1 3 ), which is a company that offers s of t w ar e t o implement personalised services, such as personalised T V por t als. T he appr oach used by Singulairs in the personalisation cons is t s of the follow ing phases:
12 1. Collect : Data fr om different sources within a Digit al T V envir onment is collected and reconciled, including implicit and explicit profile infor mation. 2. P r oces s : Statistical algorithms are used which categorise and s ummar is e user 's tastes and lifestyle for marketing and cons umer applications. Further a specific r ecommendation engine for TV and Entertainment content makes use of per s onalis at ion algorithms that interact with every customer on a one-t o-one basis, continuously learning, about each cus t omer 's individual needs, wishes, and preferences. 3. P er s onalis e: A distinction is made for business and consumer applications. Business Applications includes the gener ation of r evenues for TV operators such as targeted ad banner and video advertising, content promotion and T -commerce pr of iling. I t allows service provider s to gain unparalleled understanding of their consumers' entertainment taste, ps ychogr aphics and lifestyle. Consumer Applications: the cons umer experience is enhanced by enabling personalised cons umer services. T his software toolbox allows TV operators t o better satisfy the need of consumers by deploying per sonal s er vices such as Personalised Electronic P r ogr amming Guide, Cont ent navigation tools, smart Personal Video R ecorder or ent er t ainment reminders among many others. T he multiplat f or m technology allows numerous personalised applications, from Digital T V to wireless. S ee F igur e 4 f or an implementation of Singularis. F igur e 4: Singularis' Personalised T V Portal running on an ST B S o, in conclusion we can say that in the development of television t her e is a cer t ain logical increase in the functionality that is being s uppor t ed for 'enriching' the television: by way of the S T B the t elevis ion experience is enhanced by (conditional) acces s to more channels, by way of the P DR local storage is added with the enhancement of timeshifting and personalisation services build upon t hat, by way of the HMS the t elevision is enhanced by being placed w it hin an ubiquitous communications network. Besides this
13 development there is the development of leaving the analogue w orld behind and moving forward to digital formats for producing, t r ans mitting, storing and presenting content. And judging by the t imes and the contexts in which adjective such as 'enhanced', 'int er act ive' and 'personal' are used to sell new devices, we can s ur ely conclude t hat there is something going on. But is this is the end of television or the beginning of delivering new experiences t hr ough television? F or one thing the claim on simultaneous communication over distant s paces as a def ining characteristic of 19th and early 20th century t elevis ion, has now been abandoned. W ith a few notable except ions: i.e. world cup finals and media event s such as Princess Diana's f uneral, which linked over 2 billion live view er s. T wo developments s eem to back this up: first, the explosive grow th of mobile t elephones s ugges t s a s hift in the engagement of simultaneity from the image to t he acoustic or text (SMS). Secondly, the tr end towards television's r eliance on stored material shifts it away from simultaneity; it brings t elevis ion closer to a home movie service w it h a t elephone link for or der s and billing. You could say " [ television] has mutated into the ver y storage medium that it was defined in opposition to - as if the t elephone w er e t o transform into the answ er ing machine" (Uricchio, 1998, p. 11). Simultaneity combined with the pow er of realistic images transmitted into the living room was the w ay in which t elevis ion gained identity, but nowadays this can not be enough. W alt er Friedel already foresaw this in 1925, in one of the ear ly t r eat is es on television: 'Only when there ar e 'w or ld shattering events' like boxing matches and similar sensations would the t elevision t heat r es have a 'full house'' (Quoted from Zielinski, 1999, p. 134). T his shifting away from simultaneity touches upon another big issue: t he contr ol of time. Currently the contr ol is in the hand of the br oadcas t er s, but the time schedule of the br oadcaster s and the r elat ed concept of prime time could be histor y, and could be cont r olled with the use of personal T V services. But it seems that people also depend on this time schedule. Als o in relation to the s ocial event of television watching: together in front of the t elevision or the delayed situation of talking about it in the pub, around the w at er -cooler or at birthday parties ('did you see last night'). T his is cer t ainly rooted in the aspect of simultaneity that television carried w it h it from the beginning (everything was live) but that has diminis hed rapidly over the year s. T he quest ion is if people ar e w illing t o give up this 'lifeline' of scheduled television viewing in a ever incr eas ing complex and faster going society, and take contr ol t hems elves. W it h regard to inducing exper iences, television certainly has the bandw idt h and quality of service to provide high quality multimedia exper ience, but all developments point to adding new functionality to t his in the w ay of interactivity, personalisation and connectivity. E ssential aspects of inducing exper iences (section 1). But then again one can be scept ical whether or not these new services will gain enough momentum and survive: the VCR and its timeshifting capacit ies didn't change television fundamentally, nor did the r emot e cont r ol or the availability of more channels. Also earlier experiments w it h interactive television all bled to death. Moreover, economically it mus t be profitable t o introduce these new services of personalisation and interactivity, or else it won't happen. T hat is why interactive T V w ill be limited to certain programs (educational, children's programs,
14 big game show s) and also enhanced T V will be only used in certain cont ext s like spor ts, music, infotainment, et cetera. T he main reason being that it is far too expensive to offer all programs fully int er act ive. T he fact that the industry isn't yet up to it to provide t hes e services in a efficient way, can mean the 'law of suppression' ( W ins t on, 1998) kicks in, and some services will be delayed. Still economically, we as consumers, won't get the best solution but the mos t profitable for the industry. Something one must also not forget t hat rules and regulations on television differ widely for different geogr aphical areas and surely between the E ur ope and US. R egulat ions can stimulate or frustrate the development of new s er vices considerably. Regulations on distribution, content ownership ( i.e. EPG infor mat ion) and intellectual property rights, availability of inf or mat ion, the 'democr acy' of information, et cetera all will have an impact on at least the pace of the developments but quite possibly als o on the direction of the developments. III. I nternet: connect to interact I nt er net is a global network through which millions of computer users exchange data. T he I nter net comprises some networks, each as s ociat ed with an organisation such as a fir m, a univer s it y, a gover nment agency or an I nternet service pr ovider (ISP). Only about 10 networks have mor e t han 1% of acces s traffic ( 14 ), of which W or ldcom is currently (2001) the lar gest network with 'only' 6% access traffic. Since I nternet is an interconnection of networks, users ar e not always in the same net w or k, but spread out over networks. I f f or instance t her e is a kilomet r e betw een a user and a point of origin of certain content, this could mean that the cont ent passes through a number of networks and even more hubs. Mos t data on the I nt er net at the moment is text and graphics, but this is rapidly shifting towards rich media s uch as animations, streaming audio and streaming video. T his puts a s t r ain on the I nt er net r egar ding performance and quality of service. Partly this can be over come by greater compression of the dat a ( 15 ) and for instance r educing the size of the playback window. But this does not solve the pr oblem of varying bandwidth. Data on the I nter net is sent in packets and some t ake longer to reach their destination than others. T he moment a dat a package arr ives at the client, if it arrives, can not exact ly be pr edicted. T he dat a packages can follow different routes and arrive in a diff er ent order as originally send. I n the case of the H yper t ext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) they must be assembled based on an order number. For text and still images you just have to wait a few s econds, but audio and video interruptions in the dat a s t r eam are mor e serious because your movie gr inds to a halt. You could dow nload the w hole file and then play it, but you might be in for a long wait and this is not an answer for live br oadcast s. ( 16 ) S o, delivering video on the W eb is not without its problems. W hen you consider that compressed digital video generates 25Mbits/sec of dat a and an average modem can receive 56 Kbits/sec and ADSL maximum download speed is 2 Mbits/sec, the pr oblem is clear. B as ically the limited bandwidth on the I nt er net up until now has put a hold on qualitatively good video on the I nter net: small sized (posts t amps : 176x132 pixels for example), jerky images (five fr ames a s econd) and of low quality is all current mainstream I nternet connections via a modem (a maximum of 56 kilobit/s) or ISDN (64 to
15 128 kilobit/s) has to offer. Bringing back the early days of television w it h a s cr een a few inches wide, fuzzy pictures and with only a couple of hundred lines. W hen talking about the pr oblems of streaming audio and video on the I nt er net it mostly concentrates on the so-called 'last mile', the connection to the home. But in fact four main problems can be ident if ied regarding video on the I nternet, of which the last mile is jus t one. 1. T he 'last mile' is the connection of the consumer to the I nt er net, normally a modem with limited download speed. T his s ur ely is a bottleneck but one has to realise that many people can use office lines or university lines to connect to the I nt er net, and these ar e usually better, megabit or even gigabit, connections. 2. B es ides the last mile t her e is the 'fir st mile', the connection of t he content provider to the I nter net. T here are sever al pr oblems related to this: P er f or mance: the content must transfer long distances and several networks. R eliabilit y: content may be blocked by congestion or peer ing problems. S calabilit y: due t o a limited bandw idth at the site of or igin it is difficult to scale, leading to problems when t her e are many concurrent requests. 3. Not all backbones are fibr e optic, meaning backbones can s uf f er from limited capacity. Moreover the content provider cannot control the caching options of backbone ser ver s, leaving him in the dar k about the 'fr eshness' of his content. 4. A last problem is the connection points between the backbones, or peering points. T he t echnology for this is limited and quality dif f er s widely, which makes it hard to guarantee the quality of t he content delivery. A possible solution to these pr oblems is the implementat ion of so called cont ent delivery networks (CDN). A content delivery network is in f act an overlay network, and consists of placing a lot of servers in a lot of networks, using caching and dynamic r outin g technology. T he latter must ensure that real-time decisions can be made w hich route is the best in terms of performance. T his decision is based on monit or ing I nternet so you have infor mation available on latency, over loaded datacenters, lines, backbones et cetera. ( 17 ) An example of this solution is Akamai ( 18 ), who have some 9700 servers in 650 dif f er ent networks in 65 countries. Strong points of this solution are: 1 ) It is efficient, content is served from servers near the end user ( edge ser ver s) and traffic con ges t ion is avoided; 2) It is reliable, t r af f ic peaks do not crash sites and sites are protected against var iable net performance; 3) There is no single point of failure, server or network outages are automat ically avoided in real-time. T his s olut ion needs large investments and is basically a global solution. A mor e local or national solution is to create a specific exchange point f or exchanging broadband content and connect the most important
16 cont ent and service pr ovider s to this. Problems of the fir st mile, backbone perfor mance and the peering point could be avoided in this cas e. T his solution is pursued by for instance the NOB in the Net her lands with their 'Media gat ew ay'. H elp though is on his way with the development of Next Generation I nt er net (NGI) as a s t r uct ur al solution. T he technology enablers of NGI remove limitations of the cur rent Internet to meet more s ophis t icat ed customer demand. ( 1 9 ) These enabler s can be s ummar is ed in three main areas of improvement: 1. B r oadband: with the customer demand for a mult imedia-r ich online experience the cur r ent issue of capacity and speed will be t aken care off. Broadband is defined as 2 Mbps symmetric ( duplex) bandwidth, which is required for next-generation, mult imedia enr iched applications. 2. Qualit y of Service: with the customer demand for guaranteed 24x7 operations of services Internet must address the current ( un)reliability. Different aspects of Quality of Service w ill be impr oved to make the I nternet more reliable, secure and easier t o use: like improved network protocols (rapid fault detection, s hor t response t ime), improved middleware and improved endus er applications, for instance easier search and retr ieval by means of semantic w eb solutions. ( 2 0 ) 3. Mult i-acces s : customer demand ubiquitous communications t her eby pointing at the cur rent limited means of acces s of I nt er net which must improve in next generation I nternet. Mobile acces s to the I nter net is essential to support t r ans act ions and deliver real-time infor mation in the field. W it h the advent of broadband and true datar ates of over a 2 megabit/s and further enhancements in compression techniques there is the pr os pect of real video on demand on the I nter net. But even with or w it hout these better tools and solutions, video is already a vit al part of the I nter net today: Madonna's Brixton Academy appearance attracted 9 million hits (not viewers!), and 30 million people saw the t r ailer for the S tar Wars movie 'T he P hantom Menace'. Also, on a s maller scale, we see str eaming audio, for instance listening to 30 s econds music clips on Amazon to get an impression of a CD. So what is the specific attraction for consumers to use a t echnical 'inadequate' channel to disclose r ich media? I f we sw itch our perspective fr om a t echnological point of view to a mor e conceptual view, certain 'characteristics' of Internet are pr opos ed. Raessens (2000) argues that the I nt er net remediates mult imediality from film and television, based on one common code: digit al data. But as argued above, I nternet has a long way to go bef or e pr oviding the immersive mult imedia exper ience of film or t elevis ion (even in a narrowcast situation), while t elevision and film ar e r apidly switching to digital formats. Moreover, different media, w ho are rooted in this digital era, have the pot ent ial to become a mult imedium. T he I nternet, or a P er s onal Digital Assistant (PDA) for t hat matter, has the possibility to combine moving and non-moving pict ur es, three sorts of sound elements (spoken words, music and s ounds ) and written texts, by using a s ingle, digital, code. Still the maj or it y of websites on the W or ld W ide W eb are based on text and images, with the gr ow ing addition of animations (especially Flash
17 int r os ). Other services of the I nt er net such as or chatting are s t ill text based with little multimedia or none at all. R aessens argues further that personal computers are incr easingly connected to the w or ldw ide computer network of the I nter net. One of t he most important differences with traditional mass media like t elevis ion is the r eplacement of a br oadcas t model with a net w or k model. W hen speaking of the I nter net narrowcasting is often ment ioned as opposed to broadcasting (r adio and television). Narrowcasting as the communication of one-to-one or one-to-few as opposed to broadcasting with its one-to-many mass-communication. ( 2 1 ) Michael Real (in Drannikova & De K uijper, 1999) remarks that the t er m mass communication in traditional media t heor ies is used when indicat ing media w it h communication from one-t o-many on a lar ge s cale; an unpersonal message is sent to a r elat ively heterogeneous and anonymous audience w ith limited possibilities to give feedback. T he tr ansmitter and receiver do not know each other. 'Specialised' communication rather has a one-t o-one f or m of communication (e.g. t elephone or fax). I nternet possesses properties of both forms: onet o-one a-s ynchr onous communication (e.g. ), many-t o-many a- s ynchr onous communication (mailing lists, newsgroups), s ynchr onous communication with one-t o-one or one-t o-f ew char act er ( chat t ing, games) and a-synchronous communication with many-t o- one, one-t o-one or one-t o-many char act er (visiting a w ebs it e). ( 22 ) Different forms of communication are but one aspect of the aspect of connectivity. Another is the fact that users, through the netw ork they connect to, have access to a huge amount of digital content. Moreover us er s can actively search for content themselves at any time they w ant. As opposed to radio and television which both have a s et time s chedule and a limited choice. ( 2 3 ) Vir t ualit y, as a pot ent ially another characteristic of Internet, directs, accor ding to De Mul (1997), to that which is merely apparent, on the ot her side it indicates a capacit y that can become r eal or active. A vir t ual world or virtual reality (VR) is, accor ding to Michael Heim ( R aes s ens, 2000), a s imulat ion of a w or ld which does not exist in phys ical sense, but the user or spectator considers the VR 's effects as r eal. An example of a VR is the system that submerges users totally in a s eemingly world and gives them the possibility to transport to that w or ld and to interact with it. Virtuality as a char act er is t ic of Internet t hough is doubtful. Although I can imagine t hat a per s on is so 'close' w it h I nternet that he for gets what is happening around him, I can har dly give good examples of virtuality on the I nter net. Maybe due t o it s limited multimediality. One except ion are games which build on narrative in a s t r ong sense, such that even text-based R ole P laying Games (RPG) can become immersive. But besides that it is easier to imagine t hat television, with its power to create its own world, drifts people off to 'virtual' (unreal) worlds. But even in these situations ident if icat ion is rare, empathy as a mor e moder ate feeling is more common (van Vliet, 1991). On the subject of interactivity, theorists are usually the fir st to acknow ledge that this concept often is used incorrectly. ( 24 ) De Mul ( 1997) says that manufacturers of multimedia pr oduct s tend to stick t he ter m 'interactive' on anything that is sold in digital form. What of t en is meant, however, is that the user can decide the or der of the offered information. T he concept of 'hypertext' can explain the w or d int er act ivit y. A hyper text is a non-linear network of fragments, t hr ough which users can make up their own path by clicking with a