Thursday, April 24, 2008

Dear DTV Tivo, Get a Taxonomist

It's extremely necessary for me to watch whatever else anyone else is talking about, trend-watcher that I am. I HAD to see an episode of the F-word .

As an early adopter, I have a legacy DirectTV/Tivo hybrid, which kicked butt for the price point when I bought it. Step by step recording, useful guide, good options, downloaded updates regularly like a miracle (are you listening, Apple?) and let me fast forward through commercials. It even searches by keyword.

I headed over to Tivo's search by title and laboriously typed in "f-word" (it's like texting. I'm old. Not fun.)


But perhaps I can't spell f-word. Yay! DTV Tivo has a list of ways to filter - but wait, I have to spell it first. And what the heck a is a lifestyle show? or Interests? Is space exploration so popular that it needs a category? Where's food? Isn't foodtv more popular than my beloved science channel?

There is an actor list, as well, but you can only put in last name. How do you spell it? Ramsay? Ramsey? Arg.

I finally did find it, after I trucked over the the BBC America site, which has it listed as 'Ramsay's F-word'. Filed under R. For a show that starts with F.

I *know* that DTV collects every kind of data about my watching habits (I'm pretty sure the box is bugged so they can hear what I say about the Office). It's got a (suprisingly bad) suggestion engine.

Does it not look for my searching habits? How will it know what I'm calling things? Would it have been so hard to use a pretty basic CV and set of synonyms to help me find mega-celebrity chefs? Or even had an expanded search on its website?

With the popularity of the Internet, TV has gotten terrified of being too boring, and started a lot of niche channels. (I have a particular weakness for How It's Made) Science, food, travel, lifestyle - it's boggling. (actually, now that I think about it, I'm competing for eyeballs and attention with Tina Fey. I feel smarter and insignificant all a once.)

TV has a become a paradox of choice for me - there's so much that unless I've heard about it somewhere else, I'm not likely to browse my guide. DirectTV is really missing out on opportunities to connect with the internet, and induce me to new shows. Labelling content is cheap, losing advertising revenue is not.

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