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Streaming vs Progressive Downloads

Page history last edited by PBworks 12 years, 10 months ago
We all do progressive download.
Streaming is so 1998. 
Unless you are doing live (a la Steve Jobs' keynotes or UStream) -- in those cases you need streaming (because you can't save the movie of something that hasn't happened yet / can't compress using quicktime h.264 or mpeg-4 or whatever when you aren't saving the file at all...). Streaming used to be a more reliable way to do video on the internet / the only way. And when I say "used to" I mean a REALLY LONG time ago.
People got attached to the word "streaming" -- it must sound cool to them -- so they still use it all the time when they mean video on the internet, but have no clue how the technology works. It drove me nuts that the "new media" professors at Temple U would walk around (in 2004/05/06) talking about how they would start doing all kinds of cool new things once the school bought and set-up a bazillion dollar streaming server. And I was like, why? Why? Why? Do you even know what streaming is? You are going to want progressive download 90% of the time, and you can do that with a regular server. Let's simply get permission to use a server that already exists! That will cost the school $0, and can happen now, instead two years from now. They never listened to me. So Temple doesn't have a videoblog for their film department. They are still waiting for their streaming server so they can start doing video. Maybe in 2009.
Here's another example of the confusion -- there's a video on Viddler that's supposed to be a tutorial on why streaming video is so cool. She says right on it "you are watching this streaming video" -- but the video is being fed via progressive download. Viddler does do both (unlike blip), but the default is download. And her video is full of inaccuracies. And it's supposed to be a tutorial on what the difference between the two formats. AAHHH!!! 
I tell people if you don't know what streaming is, then you aren't doing it. If you follow any of the tutorials at freevlog, then you are creating progressive download files. The "progressive" part is because you successfully got the video to start playing before the entire thing has downloaded. 
"Progressive download" doesn't sound as sexy as "streaming", but it is. It's more sexy. It lets you save the movie and remix. It lets you pause on the frame and scrub backwards. It lets you see a high quality image -- every frame. It sounds great. Streaming is none of these things. Streaming studders and jumps. Streaming goes up and down in image + sound quality. When you hit pause, it stops whenever it feels like / sort of. When you start playing a streaming video again, you have to wait and wait, and much of the time it doesn't work. If you are NBC, and you are trying to protect your videos and prevent people from saving them, and you are designing a system that will say up and running no matter how many gazillion people are watching Scrubs at one time -- then streaming is a really good idea. I think all the TV studios are using streaming. Anything broadcasting live is using streaming. But for what we've been doing / for all the share and remix, creative commons action we've been advocating -- streaming is a waste of time and effort. Streaming is harder. Streaming is more expensive. 
Progressive download rules!!!

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