By Ron VandenBoom
Last week, after I finished updating the Havre Daily News Website (www.havredailynews .com), I tuned into another of my favorite sites, Broadcast.Com at www.broadcast.com.
I started to explain to one of the ladies who works in the office that I was going to pull up a website and watch a movie.
You can do that? she asked.
Sure, I responded, and started typing in the Broadcast.Com address.
In a few moments, I was looking over the selection of full-length feature movies offered that week.
Just to demonstrate how the site worked (you dont have to believe me if you dont want to), I clicked on what must have been a classic Hercules and the Amazon Women.
This might not have been its actual name quite honestly, I dont remember. I do remember it was a B-grade, 1960s vintage Italian movie such as those you might normally expect to find on some late Saturday afternoon movie channel.
We didnt really watch the movie. It was Friday and we both wanted to get started on the weekend a lot more than we wanted to watch some B-grade movie. But the experience did get me thinking.
Broadcast.Com is little more than the forerunner of what I believe will be an integration of two communication media, television and computers.
As many readers will remember, there was a time when TV selections in Havre were limited to KRTV and KFBB out of Great Falls. And the reception of those was limited to how good the weather was and how good your antenna was.
Over the years, the number of channels increased as technology and the advent of cable and satellite dishes expanded our choices. Today, we stand on the brink of the next step in video viewing the TV/computer.
Just imagine being able to choose any TV station, anywhere in the world, any time of day. Imagine being able to choose from a selection of movies, both classic and new, that you can call up and watch at your convenience, full length and without commercial interruption. Imagine being able to do the same with news broadcasts, TV shows, or sporting events. Imagine being able to pause, rewind, or fast forward shows youre watching without having to even own a VCR.
All the technology needed to make this a reality already exists in one form or another.
Broadcast.Com allows you to watch TV shows and movies at the click of your mouse. The site also allows you to search its database of record albums or listen to an entire book in its audio-book section. Radio stations, too, from across the country and around the world, are available.
Dont go to Broadcast.Com expecting to find a huge selection of movies or the latest releases. Nor should you expect to find an endless selection of music or books. While the technology exists, a lot of bridges need to be crossed and there is still a long way to go before the world I described earlier becomes reality.
Windows Media and Real Audio/Video have improved greatly and new versions are continuing to be developed, but trying to send video data over phone lines is still like trying to shove an elephant through a keyhole. It could be years before a better means of delivery is widely available to the general public. Maybe wireless transmissions will ultimately be the answer for the 21st Century.
In the meantime, Broadcast.com, and its sister site, American Independent Network (ANI), are blazing ahead with some of the most entertaining and innovative ideas the Internet has to offer.
It may be the horse and buggy of what is to come, but stop by and take a look into the future.