Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The SKY interface

I haven't had much of a chance to play with SKY+ as our building hasn't been wired up for it and so I got myself an Archos instead as a way of making scheduled recordings.

So it is the original SKY box interface that I have to live with, and it continues to be a source of frustration. I was discussing with my cousin last night over dinner ways in which micro-content could be better aggregated and browsed and much of the same principles apply to the multiplicity of channels now available from SKY.

SKY does allow you to designate 'favourite' channels which can then be flicked through using the blue button. At first you were allowed only 15 but this number was doubled (?) a year or so ago.

It's still not the best way to navigate favoured areas of the content. One gripe and several suggestions follow:
  • The absence of a BACK button that will return you to the time-location of the last menu you were on is a major annoyance
  • You should be able to press one button during a programme that will set up an alert for that specific programme or series regardless of the particular channel or time
  • You should be able to view a menu with just your favourite channels and be able to use that to browse through their programming over the next few days in the usual manner
  • That same menu should enable you to view a series of alerts for the day. You would be able to select and click which of these you wanted to watch and, overlaps permitting, SKY could then transmit these to you as a continuous custom channel.
Obviously tagging would also add a great deal to the digital TV experience. What fun it would be to use tags to create your own news stream. I'm thinking too of how they might be usefully deployed to block certain types of trivial story or programme ("Britney", "McCann" etc.)

My cousin thinks there's definitely a niche for a new kind of blog content aggregator. It would learn from your reading habits ('More of this..' etc.) and could, I suggest, present content in more than one dimension. In other words similar articles might be presented as stacks rather than lists (as you currently see in and its like) which could then be opened up if the reader wished to drill down in that dimension.

I reiterated my view that blog platforms need to wise up about printable layouts and give readers more scope for visualising lateral links, trackbacks and comments. It would also be useful to be able to quickly access a custom page showing all or some of the contributions by a given commenter, or indeed to see where else in the blogosphere certain bloggers have themselves contributed.

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