Last night I finally managed to catch up with the legendary pilot “Heat Vision and Jack”.

Created in 1999, the pilot was directed by Ben Stiller and starred Jack Black and the voice of Owen Wilson. Jack is an astronaut on the run from Nasa, aided by his only friend Heat Vision, a talking motorcycle with the mind of his dead stoner room-mate.

Oh, and Jack is super-intelligent. But only when the sun is up.

Pure bloody genius – but it does require you to have some knowledge of and a slight affection for the tropes of late 70s/early 80s US Action/Adventure TV shows.

If you’ve watched Knight Rider you’ll be fine.

If you like “Heat Vision and Jack” you may also be interested in “Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace” – a similar setup, also raiding the half-remembered shows of our childhood.

Title Goes Here

Billy Mernit has sold his novel to Random House. Huzzah!

Only one problem – he doesn’t have a title. And that’s why he needs your help.

There’s even prizes.

OK… So, not great prizes. But prizes nonetheless.

And just think of the bragging rights.

Rogers nails it. Again.

Damn but the man is good.

John Rogers talks about the way he thinks new technology is going to impact viewing.

To summarise: Big networks die and networks built on informational assessors will become the dominant guiding force.

That was a bit of a mouthful. Let’s break it down.

A TV network is a filtration system for television shows. So, for example, if you want a gentle drama you’d hit Sunday night on ITV1.

That’s changing. With the advent of multi-channel, PVRs, and DVDs the proliferation of viewing options means that the role of the network as selecter of your evening’s entertainment becomes unsustainable. With so much choice being delivered on-demand, one channel will no longer satisfy.

So how do you choose what to watch if you want something new – and here’s the tough part – that you’ll probably like?

One way is to use Opinionated People’s Choices.

Oprah Winfrey’s recommendation carries weight. As does Quentin Tarantino. As does Harry Knowles. As does Warren Ellis.

The specifics of what Quentin or Oprah or Harry or Warren will recommend or decry are actually irrelevant, but I think we can safely say that if we like some of the things that one of them recommends, we’ll probably like most of the rest. Similarly, if we don’t agree with their tastes, then we can safely and happily ignore them.

Rogers suggests – and I concur – that the next logical thing is the development of these people into… well, we don’t know what to call them yet. Informational Assessors. Taste Buddies. Whatever. The important thing is that these are people who have a strong sense of The Things They Like.

And then we build channels on the fly from the choices of people with strong tastes. Here’s how to do it:

– Pull a data feed off the Internet and tag the programmes with an informational flag (Warren likes! Warren hates!)
– Set a threshold (All Warren All The Time! Just The Best! Not Too Weird!)
– Use this as a feed to your PVR to grab and store

Bosh. Your very own Warren Ellis TV channel.

It’s another way of cutting through the murk.