Archive for February, 2010

Video Packratism

Saturday, February 13th, 2010

Some people know me as the IPTV guy. That is to say that I have a lot of independent media that has been distributed over the internet, which makes me something of a video packrat. I used to simply collect it. I kept RSS feeds, and downloaded episodes when they came out. I attended IRC release parties, befriended the hosts, and became part of the communities that revolved around these shows. Nowadays, things are not as active as they used to be. Shows have come and gone, and many have simply perished into the dark side of the internet.

These days, I share my collection of shows over the internet: the same way I received them. I continue to seek out lost shows and fill out holes in my archive in an attempt for completion. Many people may wonder why I even bother. The answer to that question may be more complicated than one would think.

It all must have started in the mid 90′s. I was maybe eight years old. I used to love watching cartoons, but my favorites always played when I was off at school. This is when I discovered the magic of VCRs. I never knew that you could use a VCR to record shows before, but it made things a lot easier after I found out. I learned how to tape shows while I was watching them, and advanced to master timed recording. I filled hour after hour of tape after tape, and re-watched episodes until I had to go to sleep. In affect, this marks my first archiving practice. I wanted to watch whatever I wanted when I wanted it, and found a way to do so.

Years later, I got into torrenting, which I still enjoy today. I’ve never been to keen on mainstream content. Those Hollywood blockbusters don’t do too much for me. The wonderful think about Bittorrent communities is that they are very diverse. I can find so many things that I would otherwise have missed. Have a favorite television show from the 80′s that was never released to DVD, or a movie that only could have been seen when you owned a Betamax player? Odds are I can find what you are looking for. I like to think of torrent communities as groups of friends you lend DVDs out to and talk about weird films with. When you put this group of friends online, it expands to include hundreds more like-minded individuals.

So why go through it all?

Part of it revolves around me having a certain mentality. If I don’t archive it, who will? The stuff that was out there years ago is becoming harder to find. This seems to be true for everything, but especially IPTV. As far as I can tell, I am one of two or three people that have been saving this stuff and trying to share it all back to the world. I think of websites like Jason Scott’s textfiles.com and think of how different things might be if he never decided to share a world of text files. What would have happened to our history of Bulletin Board Systems? Maybe a few Angelfire fan pages and a news group? Certainly not enough to make a statement.

Another part of it is simply the community aspect. Sharing the content makes for meeting people makes for conversation and more sharing. For example, with the IPTV Archive, I chat with a number of people who have an IPTV craze. We get to talking and searching for lost videos and have fun in the process. It opens whole new doors. Somebody may have ideas that throw you in new directions and change things for the better. Video packratism works far better in groups. Pooling resources, time, and effort helps maintain efficiency.

Through it all, video packratism has worked well for me. I locate, I leech, I share, all along with others. It might have taken a long time. I’ve been accumulating content for years, and am still nowhere near done. That is the thrill of it. Locating the un-locatable and watching the unwatched. It is a long process with a short reward. A month searching for thirty minutes of content? Good thing there are hundreds of files out there that are just waiting to be found, otherwise I might get bored.