Stylesheets for TV

Let's dig deep in the bag of tech dreams and pull out a good one. Stylesheets for TV!

Hopefully you know what I mean when I say stylesheet. I'm talking about things like CSS, DSSSL, and XSLT. Stylesheets are key when seperating content from presentation. So why in the world would you need that on a TV? A lot of reasons. All of these ideas revolve around the concept that there is content on the TV and then many stations layer on that with news tickers, score reports, weather warnings, and the like.

  • Bad production - If you've been watching the Tour de France on OLN this week, you've surely noticed that the distance to go is shown in the bottom left corner of the screen...at least most of it. Until today, the larger digits have been chopped off. Dangling in no-see-um land deep within the bezel of my screen. Where did the info go? Was it chopped at transmit by OLN? Did my local cable company cut it off? Who knows, who cares. If I had a stylesheet, I could position it over a few pixels (inches?) and solve the problem.

  • Bad eyesight - When your eyesight goes bad, you could apply font increasers to graphics and text. Maybe you care more about the stocks than the talking heads on Bloomberg TV. Maybe you have a disability with your eyes. Adjust your stylesheet accordingly.

  • Time-shifted content - DVRs are here to stay. Not only do I have LIVE! indicators on week old World Cup games, but I also get to see programming notes for stuff that has already happened. I'm not adverse to letting the networks in on the styling fun. I'd be ok with them inserting fresh content over top of stale during playback of recorded shows, as long as I had the option to turn it off. There is also the hugely annoying problem of telling me results of sporting events that I have yet to watch. While enjoying the day's World Cup match, ESPN was nice enough to ruin the Tour stage I was saving for later in the night by showing the result on the stat line. They robbed me of the joy and excitement of watching the peloton reel in the breakaway just before the finish...or will they? Let me specify a blackout period for scores and results to let me catch up with other events I may have recorded.

  • Personalized content - I don't need to see MLB scores, ever. Go ahead and apply a display:none to those, thank you. You might also have a reason to not want static content, like news ticker rectangles on your display. With TVSS, you can whisk them away!

  • Variable screen geometries - 4x3, 16x9, 25x16? Screens will evolve and you'll always have folks watching on older form factors. With styling opportunities, you could drop the NBA scoreline, or severe weather report where you want on the screen. They let you adjust the PIP window on your TV, why can't I move the county map showing where the flooding is?

TV is far from dead, but it does need to get smarter. Rumors of Apple plasmas don't sound that far-fetched when you consider the sorts of things you could do when once you have a full computing platform bolted to your TV.

What sorts of styling would you like to apply to the things you watch?

1 comment:

Jason said...

The really interesting part will be to see if networks are willing to part with their content, without pushing the presentation.

This is something they have been very protective of in the past. I have actually been very surprised how many websites have added RSS feeds for this very reason, but websites and networks are still very different beasts.

I see the equivalent of AdBlock rising up quickly if this ever occurs, to block station logos, ad blips, and most likely, commercials.

I like all of the other ideas though. Blocking content I don't care about, repositioning elements, are both very cool. I like the blackout idea also, but that requires a bit more tagging work in the content itself.

It's a nice dream though...