Headline, April01, 2014



"'Are you a geek?"'  Philip Petersen  -the 32-year-old Dane smiles and then gestures to the:

Rows of hunched figures behind him, peering in to their computer screens,  their fingers all  a-whir.

"Everywhere I've ever worked,"  says Petersen, "I've been a geek. But these guys are super-geeks. For us computer types, being called a geek is a badge of honour. And here, I don't make the grade."

[In 2007],  Petersen is standing in the trendy Convent Garden offices of a company called Joost.  Just as  YouTube  burst into our lives some years ago, so Joost  -pronounced   "juiced"  -was considered and positioned to become the next big Internet buzz?!

"What we've developed," says Petersen,  "is fully encrypted, IP-based, P2PTV delivery system." He takes a deep breath and spells it out in plain-speak:

Basically, he explains, Joost turns your PC into  broadcast-quality, on demand TV. It combines sharp, full-screen images, full length programmes and easy channel-flipping with the interactivity of the web.

The software is free and works on any decent computer with a broadband link. The programmes are free, too, as the whole shebang is funded by adverts.

"We've worked hard on the technology," says Petersen, Joost's  -then Head of the content development. Certainly, the pictures on a huge-flat screen computer in front of me looks like TV. And when you switch channels, the image-change is instant.

This  "signal"  quality is the work of those  Joost geeks.

Almost all  online video is downloaded or  streamed from a central bank of servers. That means the more popular a programme is, the slower it is to access   -as countless others are doing the same thing.

The  "breakthrough"  is  that Joost uses  P2P  peer-to-peer technology.

Everything you see on your screen is made up of chunks of  data initially stored on other users. Incredibly, the software draws fragments of programme you want from lots of different sources, then assembles them as you watch.

So that means that once  Joost  has sent a programme out,  the more popular it becomes, the easier it is to access it as it's sitting on more machines.

The fact is that  P2P  technology isn't strictly new. Joost's founders  -Scandinavian whizz kids  Niklas Zennstrom and Janis Fris  -have used it before:

Most famously when they launched  Skype  in  2003 .

Revolutionary in its own right,  Skype  harnessed  P2P  to enable cheap, International Phone calls over the net.

Joost is the  TV version of Skype, allowing  the same cost-effective, high-quality content distribution, but with pictures as well as sound.

In other words,  software that uses the spare capacity of other people's computers to beam  TV  around the world,  practically for free,  while charging advertisers an arm and a leg.

Potentially its a money making machine.

Joost  -used to  boast  around  200 channels   -having signed deals with big production houses such as Time Warner, Endemol and Viacom:

Including Paramount and MTV. The content was to vary from the familiar : CBS, National Geographic,  to the esoteric  PokerHeaven  and (Ahem) Sports illustrated SwimSuit On Demand).

For the advertisers,  Joost  tracks what we watch, then uses that to decide which adverts  we see.

By targeting ads in this way, and you can't spool through them, Petersen and friends hope to make serious money even with the relatively low-ad-count. The current ratio {2007},  he says, is three to five minutes per hour(less than commercial TV).

And the progamme-makers negotiate with  Joost  for a share of that advertising revenue. Joost is betting its full-screen images and  P2P  driven delivery speed will ensure its system form the basis of global internet TV?

As I say goodbye to Petersen, it strikes me this bunch of awkward-looking geeks could revolutionise TV. The company knew and thinks that, however snazzy the technology:

Viewers will only watch on-demand  TV  if there's something decent to watch. Joost's list of signed-up content providers was impressive. And given that programmes cost almost nothing to  "publish" and airtime is effectively infinite:

This software could provide a haven for highbrow, independent, rich programming too. And then these days, high-fibre documentaries struggle to get on conventional TV. If such programmes can find an audience on Joost, they are more likely to be made.

So  Joost  may be good news for audience, independent TV producers and mainstream programme makers who can a grab a slice of the action.

For now, we still spend a lot more of our  "media time:  watching TV than we do on the net. But is that about to change?!

And when and if it does  -these damn geeks shall inherit the earth. For sure!

With respectful dedication to the Students, Professors and Teachers of the World. See Ya all on !WOW!  -the World Students Society Computers-Internet-Wireless:

"' Your New Online Honour "'

Good Night & God Bless!

SAM Daily Times - the Voice of the Voiceless


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