Friday, May 25, 2007

Out of Sight, Outline for Mind

Did this ever happen to you?

You hang out with your co-workers for happy hour. Grab a bite to eat. Maybe have a beer. You get home at 8:23PM.

So far, so good.

But you wanted to watch the season finale of Smallville. It started 23 minutes ago. You don't usually watch it; so you don't have a season pass on your TIVO. Your DVR didn't record any part of the show. You can't watch it anywhere online. You don't really want to wait for a repeat.

What do you do?

If IBM has its way, you'll have another option in the future.

On May 10, 2007 the US Patent & Trademark Office published an IBM patent, Method and apparatus for providing summaries of missed portions of television programs. The premise is simple. It would provide
a television viewer with a summary of a portion of a program that he or she has missed, after switching to the program at some time after the program has begun.
Think of the possibilities. A highlight reel. A written summary. Some combination of those items. Both the highlights and the summaries can be repurposed too.
  • highlight reel: Think "The Sopranos" in seven minutes. Think about Sony's Minisode Network, where you'll be able to watch self-contained synopses of full episodes of "TJ Hooker" or "Charlie's Angels" in three minutes. If the nets provide these highlights as part of the feed, they exist and people will watch them online too. What a great way to quickly get a new viewer brought up to speed.
  • written summaries: We've all read episode summaries at various sites. Some are well-written. Some are, well, amateurish. (There's a reason why I don't write ep guides. You've read my writing.) Imagine if the show writers wrote ep summaries? Now those would be good reading.
So you see the possibilities? I love this idea!

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