It is an exciting time in the world of web series! So following on from Web TV Highlights no.1 here is the second in my occasional posts about tv shows that I like on the web. Last week saw the second International Academy of Web Television Awards which took place at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Paul Kontonis, Chairman of the IAWTV released some surprising statistics about the web TV industry. Nearly five hundred web series submitted themselves for consideration for an award to the IAWTV, five times the total number of web series that were produced in 2009. In 2013 it is predicted one thousand new web series will launch. He also commented that in 2011 about US$50million was spent on original online content, but this is predicted to rise to $250million in 2013.
I recently treated myself to a Roku LT which is an inexpensive little gadget (currently retailing for about £40) that streams content from the Internet to your TV. Roku has got a lot right with this device. It is simple to use, the user interface is consistent, and it is compact - the unit is about the size of a hockey puck. A software development kit is also available so you can develop your own apps, or channels in Roku-speak. So I set myself the challenge of writing a new channel to see what developing for a Roku box is like.
When you live and work in a world of technology it is easy to forget that it is not the technology that matters but what people do with it. Right now there is a huge amount of creativity being released into the web TV world. It is very exciting and I have been finding myself watching more and more online, so I thought I would start writing occasional posts about what has stood out for me. I'm going to embed previews where possible too, so I hope that the folk behind the shows don't mind.
The Web Cube from Three is a bit of an odd idea to think about at first. It is a bit like the MiFi, a device used to get access to the Internet through the mobile phone network. Where it differs from the mobile, and most products offered by mobile phone companies is that it is not mobile. This is a device that needs to be plugged into the mains. However many homes have non mobile routers plugged into the mains to set them up with web access. The Web Cube is intended to be a replacement for that device, ending the need for ADSL and the fixed telephone line that always comes with it that many do not use anymore. The Web Cube is only available in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Leeds at the moment, but I've been taking one for a test drive in Milton Keynes.
Although I have been using Boxee for quite a while both as a user and developing apps the closest I have come to seeing a Boxee Box was holding a prototype in my hands, and it wasn't even switched on. So it was a great opportunity to take up PR agency 33 Digital's open invitation to go see one in operation in their offices in London. They are representing Dlink, the hardware manufacturer for the Boxee Box on the social media scene and run the @dlink_boxee_box Twitter account. It was a great chance to have a play with this innovative bit of hardware and explore what it can do.
A real advantage of Internet powered TV is the opportunity for personalisation and customisation to make it a more compelling and meaningful experience for the viewer, but to support this it helps to have a flexible solution to query the data about what is on offer. Linked Data could be that flexible solution as it makes it possible to send a quite complex query, possibly generated on the fly to a data store. With this in mind I have been experimenting with consuming linked data on a cheap and cheerful blu-ray player that supports the Samsung Internet@TV platform. Using a web developer skill set it is possible to build a web application that runs on the device that has the ability to pass a query directly to a SPARQL endpoint and parse the results.