Television is a “push” medium, meaning the content is sent to you automatically. Before the TiFaux, you had to be there at the right time to receive it, or else learn how to program your VCR and buy a bunch of $3 VHS tapes. The simple idea behind the TiVo/TiFaux revolution is that maybe you like to watch the shows you like, not the shows that are on when you sit down to watch TV. They call it timeshifting, we call it love.
I got my TiFaux about a year ago and never looked back. Every time I wanted to watch TV I could sit down and a TV show I LIKED WAS ALWAYS ON! It was as if I had become a network programmer and replaced all the garbage with The Daily Show and 4 episodes of the Simpsons every day. The lousy bastards who were still technically in charge of programming could even shuffle the schedule to make it harder to find that struggling comedy I liked so damn much and the TiFaux would adjust like nothing had changed. Sometimes I didn’t even know it had happened. Obviously I started watching more TV than I had before, but I didn’t feel guilty about it, because I wasn’t watching reruns of Everybody Loves Raymond, I was watching really great television.
But now I don’t have a TiFaux. I’m in Germany, and I get two English language stations, neither of which would be TiFauxed even if I had one. What I have is the Internet, and it’s forced me to re-evaluate my viewing habits.
As we learned from the debacle of that Wired “Push” article (it’s officially their worst article ever) the Internet did not become a “push” medium. It remains a “pull” medium. If I want to get something from the Internet I have to do it myself. Yeah, it’s a lot easier to get TV using Bittorrent than it was a few years ago when you had nightmare P2P software like Limewire and Kazaa. But I still have to actively seek out the episodes I want to watch. I have to remember that 24 is on Monday nights which means I can download it in Germany on Tuesday morning. I have to remember that The Daily Show is on 4 days a week and it’s always available for downloading whenever I want. But I forget. There’s nothing pushing the shows at me. And I need that. Otherwise I stop watching TV. If it weren’t for this blog I might even forget to download The Office, which is the best comedy on TV right now. And I’ve stopped watching The Colbert Report (a show I truly love) completely.
There is hope though. There is a form of RSS that encloses Bittorrents instead of the traditional MP3s or videos (known neologistically as torrentcasting) which I am enthusiastic about. That means you would subscribe to an RSS feed using a Bittorrent client that supports it and the torrents will be sent to you automatically, just like a TiFaux, but with lower quality. Right now I’ve been unable to find any RSS feeds that suit my needs, but I suspect it will happen very soon.
As always, you shouldn’t do illegal things on the Internet. Watching television without the commercials is like taking food out of Maggie Stewart’s mouth.
UPDATE: It turns out I was thinking of this the wrong way. I was expecting to find a site that hand-selected the best Daily Show torrents and put them in an RSS feed. It turns out most of the big Bittorrent sites already have RSS feeds and it’s my job to set up filters to find the shows I want. This method allows for a lot more customization, but it’s hard to get the filters right. Still, it’s a step in the right direction.