What If These Two Things Happened …

2/01/2008 7:00 PM Eastern

Sometimes, technology translation work detours into a more creative neighborhood. Usually, it starts when trying to imagine useful purposes for the interface specs, gizmos, and bandwidth-savers piled up on the list of things needing interpretation.

Here are two such ideas. One I’ve been sampling to tech-side friends since Thanksgiving. (So far, no takers.)

Your turn.

It involves the channel-bonding feature of the DOCSIS 3.0 specification. Usually, people interpret this as a way to super-amplify broadband speeds, upstream and down. If the game is to be faster than the next guy, with the most subscription customers, it’s a pretty good weapon.

But what about this: What about making a four-channel bond useful as a download accelerator? (I even have a brand name for this: “Net-Ex.” Get it? “Fed-Ex?” “Net-Ex?”)

In this scenario, you’re on iTunes — or wherever you go to download TV shows or movies. This works better if you’re in a hurry, so, you’re in a hurry. You want to grab the entire third season of Project Runway. You start the purchasing sequence.

At the end of the checkout screen, there’s an optional charge — a faster download. Way faster. Instead of downloading at 6 Megabits per second or 8 Mbps, you get a 160 Mbps blast, for as short as it takes to get what you want.

Or maybe the turbo-download is just there, because a deal happened behind the scenes between the place where you get your bandwidth and the place where you found the stuff you wanted to download.

It’s the apple at check-in. The hot washcloth. That little, extra, surprising and delightful treat.

Here’s what two words tend to whine their way into this idea: Network neutrality. As my niece Claire would say, What-EV-er. It’s just an idea. People would like it.

The second idea involves that awkward acronym, EBIF (“ee-biff”), which is part of the body of work that is interactive and enhanced TV. It’s the thing that lets a program network, or a service provider, push a clickable thing onto the TV screen — hopefully in an interesting way.

So far, people tend to talk about EBIF as a way to let digital cable customers “telescope” into a stored piece of content. Maybe it’s a longer version of the ad, or another episode of the show.

But what about this: What if a trigger popped up — “Wouldn’t you rather be seeing this in HD?” This would assume a few things: that you weren’t already watching it in HD, for instance; and that the show you’re watching is even available in HD.

If nothing else, it seems like a good way to highlight HDTV choice.

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