I saw this article come through on my RSS feeds a few days back and I thought “I really must flick that link out to some of my colleagues” then I thought “I really must throw that into a blog so I can get down some thinkingâ€™s around it” then I thought… “Oooh – Coffee…” and went and had a coffee, forgetting the article altogether! Fortunately, I’ve managed to ‘re find’ that story and so follow my musings, after the jump. So, it would appear that ISAN (International Standard Audiovisual Number), if adopted in a widespread (and standard) manner, could help those of us interested in deep and complete metadata for their electronic programme guide(s) (EPGs).The reason this is important, is there hasn’t been any real agreed way to refer to media in a consistent manner – because of that, the way TV programs are referred to is inconsistent.
So for those of you who haven’t yet followed the link, whatÂ the hell is an ISAN?Â Simply put, ISAN is to Audiovisual content what ISBN is to books. It is a 92-bit identifier which can be linked / referred / watermarked into content and, via a reverse lookup, will allow the content consumer to receive richer, deeper (and assumably more accurate) information about the item that they are watching/listening too.
So, great for content depth as a unified and agreed way of ‘naming’ content allows for easy linking to databases with deeper information such as IMDB-TVÂ or even TVTome (which we looked at before it got ‘changed’ mid 2005 and died / morphed into TV.com).
It is however very bad for tinfoil hat wearers as the potential to snoop on your media consumption increases exponentially as digital watermarks including the contents ISAN allow those who track these things to keep an eye on if you’re allowed to watch/listen to it, and what it is you watch/listen to (allowing future ‘upsells’). Of course, us ‘average’ users won’t have anything to fear from this right? – It’s certainly not mentioned in the ISAN promotional video.
Since seeing this announcement, I’ve found out that the Windows Media Player 11 shipping with Windows Vista will support ISAN identifiers (I’m on the Vista beta Program but that’s probably all I can say without breaching whatever the NDA is I agreed to)Â
So, for me the jury is still out, if this ‘voluntary’ standard is adopted in a widespread manner then it gives me richer data, but on the other hand, it exposes me to invasions of privacy, and while content owners are still running roughshod over what I as a consumer consider fair use, then it’s a very dangerous thing indeed.