Tuesday, June 29, 2004

"Hey, Gladys! They're Watching Queer Eye Again!"

AOL, with U.S. Patent No. 6,754,904, has developed the capability to share your TV viewing habits with other people on your "Buddy List." Using Instant Messaging technology, the system (which at this time requires a TV, a set-top box, a computer, Internet access, and an AOL subscription--WHEW!) could switch your viewing automatically to what your buddies are watching, or at least give you the opportunity to do so. You could also see what other denizens of your Knight Rider chat room are watching (Oh where have you gone, David Hasselhoff?) and whether someone in the room switches to Baywatch instead. (Traitor!)

AOL promises the ability to block this information when you're having a private moment, or a guilty pleasure, but once again even more of our lives will be open to others, with safeguards that may not be safe enough. Stay tuned!

PATENTS: Tuning in to Television, Two Ways, by Sabra Chartrand. The New York Times, June 28, 2004.