Report on the 1st NoTube Workshop: the Future of Television will be Social and Semantic

The NoTube project organised the 1st workshop on Future Television at the European Interactive TV conference (EuroITV) 2010. The half day event brought 20 external experts in the television domain and 3 NoTube representatives together to present and discuss on the future of television, with a focus on the trends of semantics and social networks which already develop importantly on the Web.

The first session was made up of three presentations from accepted papers submitted to the workshop. “NoTube: linking TV and the (social) Web” reflected on how the Web and TV are bi-polar cultures and how semantics can be used to bridge both worlds. The second talk focused on the use of Web services in providing NoTube technology to social and semantic TV applications. A third presentation from the University of Aveiro in Portugal reported on a project with Portuguese Telecom (PT) on providing social network-based recommendations over IPTV.

Following a break, there was a very interesting talk by Jonathan Marshall about “bringing television back to the TV”. Looking at how TV as a medium has broken out to the Web and IP as delivery platform for PC viewing, and is now being pushed over the Web and IP back to the television set and beyond, Jonathan outlined how his company,, is providing a social semantic media platform, delivering to multiple set-top box platforms (for the 20 million MHEG based set top boxes in the UK, Flash, Ant etc), PCs, tablets and mobile devices. His talk focused on the new functionalities possible when merging the social Web with TV viewing, demonstrating how, for example, friends could tag programs at a timepoint with comments or media, and when watching that program those tags could be overlaid on a second screen such as an iPad.

To close the workshop, having addressed many topics about social and semantic TV in the presentations, there was an open discussion among the participants about their visions of future television. Many challenges relate to the analysis of audiovisual material, they noted, while the semantic TV proponents reminded on the possibilities the Linked Data movement brings to acquiring related information over the Web. Other challenges mentioned were the sociological, i.e. that TV viewers must adapt to a more active form of viewing, and the integration of content which, in the TV domain, means giving greater importance to the temporal aspect. There is an onus on the content providers to provide the metadata, and the classical broadcast TV will be still the starting point for most people. Still, business models will change as previously it was based on program schedules, which become less significant in an era of on-demand content. Social and semantic TV will also disrupt the traditional TV model but differently; it is more difficult to predict. In fact, this is a key question for future development of the technology, since in many regards the means to implement social and semantic TV is already there but not the commercial driver that will push it to the mainstream. There is a disruption in the content value chain – who will be profiting from eyeballs on content in the TV future? Earlier, there was the broadcast channel and then came additionally the EPG provider. Now, TV is becoming more open, Internet-based, sourcing the Web for its content, and there is a related loss in commercial value of the TV material. New revenue generation models need to grow around the social and semantic enhancement of TV. Yet current approaches take the Web as the starting point and link into video, rather than starting with the broadcast stream and linking out to the Web.

The first NoTube workshop has been the first step in bringing together a wider research and industrial community around the topic of social and semantic television: the future of TV. The workshop webpage contains links to the presentations made at the workshop.

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