More than a year ago I suggested to folks from Frontline that they put out their shows on BitTorrent, serving as the Alpha Seed. I’m pretty sure Dave Winer (at the same conference) said the same thing. Maybe I got the idea (like so many others) from Dave.

I also remember thinking, if not saying, that BitTorrent distro was inevitable. The economics of transmission map nicely to the sociology of the show. The market is a conversation among seeds. This is radically different from the transmitter-based system we have now.

So now comes news from Michael O’Connor Clarke that the CBC is quietly releasing one of their most popular shows on BitTorrent. And that it’s DRM free. As it ought to be.

Read the whole post. Follow the links. There lies the future.

Here in the U.S. the new challenge is for the entities we call stations to find roles and relevancies other than distribution of network shows.

The only answer, I believe, is the “One Fond Hope” I appended to the Ten Prophesies I uttered on a public media panel (and in this post at Linux Journal) exactly one year after delivering the BitTorrent distro advice to the Frontline folks (and to the rest of public media folks attending my closing talk there).

The idea is outlined here.

CBC can go with BitTorrent because they’re not defined as just a collection of stations. That is, they have stations, and they produce and distribute; but they are not tied to any one band or medium for distribution. When AM radio became too retro, they went about dumping it (including CBL/740, on which I used to listen to stories late at night when I was a kid growing up in New Jersey).

It’s different here in the U.S., where stations run the show. Literally. They still can, but they’ll have to become far more involved with their local and regional communities — which need no longer be defined by the reach of signals from transmitters. Because the new transmitters, in many cases, will be the listeners and viewers.

Bonus link.



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7 Responses to BitTransmitters

  1. Doug says:

    The CBC can distribute its programs for free because it is funded by the Canadian government. Private and independent producers don’t have that luxury.

  2. Mike Warot says:

    Anyone can distribute programs for free, it’s a choice. The question of how to make money while doing this is the existential question of the “Web 2.0” era.

    Perhaps a locked download which requires a separate key to unlock is a solution? This would allow the community to support a program with it’s bandwidth needs, without denying the ability to use a subscription model.

    Things are changing, there are forces that are trying to keep us down on the farm, but we’ve seen Paris, and we’re not going to stay away. 😉

  3. Being able to distribute art freely is the natural state.

    Monopolies were introduced a few centuries ago to give publishers the privilege of suspending this natural liberty – because of a failure of imagination then as to how they would otherwise viably sell art.

    We are not only dealing with the legacy of that failure of imagination, and its consequent unethical constraint upon our cultural freedom, but also its tendency to indoctrinate and perpetuate that failure of imagation.

    It seems like a gargantuan paradigm shift is required for anyone to even countenance that commerce in art could be possible without copyright.

    Until someone actually demonstrates that commerce is possible, no-one is going to believe it is possible. And without such evidence, everyone instead believes we need a law to prohibit free cultural exchange.

    The frustrating thing is, once it is demonstrated (like manned flight or heliocentricity) everyone will think it obvious and anyone who stubbornly refuses to recognise it to be a buffoon.

    Until that point, that global paradigm shift, a handful of apparent buffoons persist in the solitary development of prototypes and demonstrations.

  4. Doc Searls says:

    Subtracting value from naturally free goods to make them scarce is a clumsy way to do business.

    Crosbie is right about the failure of imagination here. Also about the need for a paradigm shift caused by new and better models.

    We’re working on that. 🙂

  5. Pingback: Bell Canada - how much further should I bend over? — Shooting at Bubbles

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