TECH TALK: Next-Generation Networks: FolkTV

While there has been a lot of discussion and action around IPTV, if we were to project to a little ahead, then we can see a future where with the emergence of video-enabled mobile phones and broadband networks, video (rather than text) becomes the preferred mechanism to share experiences. (Already, some of us find it easy to created multimedia on our mobiles phones than write text!)

Ramesh Jain discusses IPTV and its limitations: IPTV is in simple terms video on internet. The major difference is that it is assumed that this video could be shown on any device including TV, PC, and phones. This is a bigger change than it appears at first. And this is rebirth of VoD but in a much broader scope. This in fact is the convergence of communication, computing, and content. People commonly talk about the convergence of communication and computing. In terms of content, people were used to thinking mostly in terms of text and blobs where a blob could be any media item but that was considered atomic entity for the information system. So a three hour video could be played as a three hour video but there was no indexing or content bases access possible. In the new world, that is not going to be acceptable. Content could also be stored and accessed at different levels of granularities based on its semantics.

Ramesh then goes ahead to discuss how IPTV wil morph into FolkTV:

Internet culture will result in people starting to produce lots of video content for many different applications. The long tail effect will dominate this area also. People will start producing and placing videos on Internet that they know will be used by only a very limited number of other people in some case may be only 5 other people. This will however happen only if the production tools for editing video will allow people to capture and prepare video to put on the Internet as easily as they author web pages. Current video editing tools are very difficult to use. The tools that are easy to use do not give enough control to author what an amateur producer may want. This is a interesting challenge to multimedia community and was correctly identified in the Berkeley retreat in 2003 as a grand challenge problem for multimedia.

The second and equally important problem is how to find videos of interest. Search engines have trained current generation of Internet users, even regular computer users, to search for information using easy tools like specifying some keywords. How will we search video on internet? Current search techniques on internet are direct extension of text based techniques and are definitely going to be very limiting in accessing video. Multimedia information retrieval research community and the practicing video retrieval community are poles apart. They are developing more or less disjoint approaches research community wants to use only visual characteristics because thats where interesting research challenges are and practicing people want to just apply text based approaches because thats what they know. Everybody recognizes that to be successful, one must use all knowledge sources and all possible techniques for accessing video information. Unfortunately, thats where most of the time it ends just talking that combining multiple sources is vital to solving this puzzle and then going to your workplace and keep doing what you have been doing. We require people who take this challenge seriously and start developing techniques to access video information using text processing, visual computing , audio recognition.

IPTV is a real transformation in the society. IPTV brings TV media to masses not only as a consumer but also as a producer. Common people start using TV medium to share their experiences and producing contents of interest to other people, not necessarily only with commercial interest in mind. People will use it to share family birthdays with other family members who could not be there to share the moment in person. And that could be done live or time displaced. If the last major revolution brought WWW and information revolution, this will be the next revolution and a major step in bringing experiences to people. IPTV is really FolkTV.

Tomorrows world will see us equipped with mobile phones which can not only take pictures but also record videos. With the next-generation networks giving us the ability to share these videos (which are really a mirror of our experiences) almost instantly, it will make the world an even smaller and more connected place.

Tomorrow: Mirror Worlds

TECH TALK Next-Generation Networks+T

Published by

Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.