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Chatabox.TV: Start Here Technorati icon

February 19, 2007 | Filed under: Internet TV

As you know, I canned Chatabox.TV as an active project last week. It seems a bit of a waste to leave the ideas on the D: drive after a decision like that so I thought I'd put some of the main documents up for comment and interest for other people. I've introduced each document in italics at the start of each piece.

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Posted by Phil Morle at 11:15 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Chatabox.TV: Product Description Technorati icon

| Filed under: Internet TV

This was an early document to describe Chatabox. It outlines a simple use-case that was centered on a citizen journalism model.  I found that the problem with this example was that it didn't show potential to reach a mass-market. Some obsessed on it as an example and assumed that the market was niche.

Real People. Real Places. Real Things

Chatabox is a social TV network, built upon proven internet principles of social networking and user generated content which exploits viral business models.

Chatabox will 'crowdsource' content using software to make the process of gathering, sorting and editing fun and very simple.

Chatabox will pioneer video based citizen journalism before moving into other vertical channels such as how-to, travel and people.

Points of Difference

The Chatabox model has several unique features over other video products on the market today.

  • Video Clipping: Enables users to use clips from larger pieces of content in their own project as easy as quoting text from a blog. An API will allow other websites to enable clipping.
  • One-Click Studio: Make a TV show as easy as making a play-list.
  • Comment Layers: Add rich media layers to add to content.
  • Social Content management: Digg-like voting for the best content.
  • Social Viewing: Watch video together using chat and peer-to-peer distribution of content.
  • Full Ecosystem Economy: Everyone gets paid so everyone is incentivised to create, to consume and to spend.
  • Entertainment Experience: Rich, full screen experience.

Business Model

Chatabox will operate an ad-based business model. As well as exploring existing video ad engines, a proprietary system will allow users to advertise to each other for a fee in order to make more money for themselves from their videos.


Asia, US, Europe, Australia

Use Cases

To illustrate how it will work, I will begin with a use case.

JO lives in LA and carries his video camera everywhere. When he sees something interesting he shoots it. When he gets home, he uploads it to chatabox.tv. Today he has some nice shots of buildings and shots of a car accident on the interstate. He also finds a message asking all users in LA for footage of a demonstration that is happening the next day in Santa Monica. He decides to attend and get some footage.

JANE is an expert in LA news. She logs on and sorts through the clips that have come into her filter today. She spends 10 minutes looking through some clips and marks some as GOOD and some as BAD. The good ones are good enough quality to use in a larger piece and seem relevant. She also tags comments where appropriate. She wants to tell a story about the terrible road conditions in LA. She queues up some clips (one of them is the slip JO shot earlier that day) and opens her chatabox.tv studio. She sees the clips she has queued as well as transitions settings and titles she used last time. Also preset from her last session are her advert settings (where the ad will go and what category) and text feeds (RSS) that she would like to have scrolling (Bloomberg-like) across the screen in her show. She presses GO and records her 10 minute show. One-click later her show is aired.

JON lives in LA and is a video junkie. He opens chatabox.tv and immediately jumps into watching some shows because his first view is personalized to where he lives and what he is interested in. JANE's piece on the traffic is what he watches first. It is full-screen in his browser and is easy to operate. He thinks JANE is over-reacting and is incorrectly making claims about pollution. He presses record on his webcam and speaks into the camera. He sees his video layered on top of JANE’s show (it can be moved, disabled, etc). No one else sees this until Jane approves it. He then selects a clip which includes her claim and his response and pastes it into his blog.

JACKSON sees JON's blog and is angry. He clicks the link and jumps straight into JANES show at the correct spot. He sends a text message from inside chatabox to swarm his friends into the clip. Chatabox knows the best way to reach all his friends and sends links to their preferred device. Some get Skype IM’s, one gets an email and the rest get an SMS. They all swarm to chatabox.tv and watch it together. They don’t all agree but it is a great discussion. They variously leave comments on the piece and make clips for themselves to use in their own projects.

After one month, JANE’s show on LA traffic congestion has been watched 100,000 times. The ad revenue is split between her and JO, who provided the live footage.


These are definitions for various concepts that will be discussed in this document:



A clip is the smallest unit of content in Chatabox. It is usually unedited raw footage. Sources of clips:

· Uploaded footage of an event, interview, etc that can be used a primary footage in an edited story. Footage comes from browser or mobile phone upload. Also, cutaways and stock footage such as shots of buildings, crowds, planes, planes.


Clips are edited together to create shows. A show is a complete unit of entertainment. If shows are in a series (e.g. a video blog) they can be subscribed to.


Channels are collections of shows. Chatabox will launch with 3 main channels:

· News & Current Affairs.

· Lifestyle – cooking, places, travel.

· People – biographies, interviews.

· 2-3 broadcast TV stations who agree to allow clipping and do a deal with Chatabox (see Broadcast TV integration).

There will be a live stream of high quality video that will loop throughout a 24 hour period. It will have an electronic program guide and be distributed over p2p. Users will be permitted to watch 1 hour of live video without the p2p element and then they will be promoted to upgrade to he p2p component.

Channels will also feature on demand downloads of recent shows. Perhaps the last 7 days.

Initially channels will be created manually by Chatabox but we envisage a great many more channels and these should be created by users.

Comment Layers

Users can comment on a video with a ‘layer’ of their own content. This layer is anchored to the timeline. The comment can be:

· text based e.g. a translation,

· a tag (to help searching and linking to particular content)

· audio

· video

In the interface, the primary content can be viewed with one active comment layer at a time. The software will automatically mix between primary content and the comment layer. For example, a video comment will be superimposed over a portion of the screen and the sound on the main content will be reduced to give the comment prominence.

There is no limit to the number of comment layers that can be added.

The creator of the original video approves which layers go live with the content.

When clips are embedded in other websites the user can optionally include a comment layer.


All users collaborate in the making of the Chatabox experience.

The Eyes

These are the users that upload clips. Some users may only do this and never try to edit things together


These are the users that create shows. They compile clips together into complete units of entertainment.


A swarm is what occurs when a user calls his/her friends around a piece of content for collaborative viewing.

Functional Description

High Level Principles

Many video sites today resemble database applications and are quite different to the entertainment experiences which people are used to on their TV sets. Chatabox has its eye on the long term media consumption and will create a user experience that is rich – easily transportable to a plasma television in the living room as well as a laptop.

Videos will be generally full screen with fluid, transparent layers that can be shown and hidden by the user according to their specific needs. This is inspired to the experience of playing collaborative video games such as World of Warcraft.

The user interface can be shown as a layer above the main video content. Here you can see a chat window appeared during a swarm viewing of a news show. Also, some tags which have been attached to the timeline have just faded into view and the user can click on these to find related stories.

In addition to the previous configuration, this user has also displayed the comment channels for this story and selected JazzyB’s comment. When the comment appears on the timeline it fades into view and becomes the primary sound channel.

This is a news banner user interface that can present contextual information during a show. For example, show creators can integrate text RSS feeds into their show and it will scroll across the screen.

When a clip is paused the user gets the ability to interact with it. For example: marking an in-point to a clip.

Here you can see a possible Vista integration where the user can watch certain channels persistently and also view their inbox to get breaking news, new clips, etc.

The site should encourage link-clicking at all points to lead users on an interesting and enjoyable content discovery process.

It should be easy to embed appropriate elements into other websites. For example, take the electronic program guide (EPG) for a channel and embed it in a users MySpace page or blog.

All clips, stories and channels need simple links for easy social interaction.


This area is where you go to find stuff that is of interest to you. If you are just a viewer you can configure this to list shows that you may want to watch each day. It’s your personal channel.

If you are a ‘storyteller’ you can come here to watch the clips you want to assemble into your shows. It’s an inbox. It’s a control hub. It’s part of the production line. Raw material comes in one end to multiple user’s inboxes and goes out the other side a little more refined, better described, clipped differently for specific usage. All users can vote on clips and shows that come into Chatabox.

Functional Requirements:

  • RSS feed so that you can watch your incoming media from any RSS application.
  • Easy Voting/Digging of new clips and shows.
  • Categorisation tools – tagging.
  • Ability to open a clip and re-clip it so that it can be used for specific purposes.
  • Filter configuration – users need to be able to refine the content that comes into the Inbox.


The Studio is where clips are combined, optionally with live footage, to make a complete show. Storytellers queue up their clips and configure other settings and then Chatabox builds there show.

  • Easy access to a playlist of clips that make up the show
  • Ability to tweak in and out points of clips
  • Set transitions
  • Set backdrop image/set
  • Record control for live camera and microphone


The player is how media is viewed, but also the main forum for user interactivity and community.

  • Player Controls: Play/Pause, volume, etc. In collaborative contexts there needs to be the concept of who is in control.
  • Clipping: Users need to be able to set in and out points for clips and save them out to their clip lists.
  • Chatting: Chat with people in your viewing group.
  • Who’s watching in your group:
  • Invite people to group: It is envisaged that this will interface with other communication tools such as AIM, Skype, SMS, to pull people into watching content.
  • Comment Layers: Other users can add media to the parent content which will be displayed as a layer on top. Sound and vision will be mixed automatically. Comment layers can be clicked to link off to other content from the commenter.
  • Rating/Voting/Digging: Interface needed for users to mark what is good to assist others finding the best stuff.
  • Tag overlays: Tags can be set on the timeline to assist users searching within the video. Clips can be auto generated from this. Where tags have been set they can be optionally displayed as an overlay on the video. They are hyperlinked to search for similar shows and clips.
  • RSS overlays: Storytellers can assign RSS feeds to their content so that text information can be presented in the video screen to create a rich, Bloomberg-like experience.
  • Ads are displayed somewhere. It is envisaged that the system will need to support multiple display choices while we understand what users respond to best: post roll, pre-roll, ads around the content, in tags, etc.
  • Persistent comments: Comments can be made which are not on the timeline. Text comments should be available at any time. Video comments perhaps are played after the main content.
  • Share – embed – email – post to blog. Sharers can also optionally set what layers to display in the shared version and if they want to send the whole show or just a clip.

The Archives / The ‘Basement’

This is like the catacombs under the BBC! It is where all clips and shows can be found and added to clip playlists. Like all things in Chatabox it should be possible to update the content (metadata and re-clipping) as well as view it

  • Search by full-text or tag
  • Tag browsing
  • Category browsing
  • Geo-location browsing
  • Date browsing
  • Set search results as filter for Inbox

Search and browse results also show links to blogs and websites that have embedded video with this metadata, who is maintaining the content in this section the most.


The community is the engine of Chatabox.

  • User homepages with lists to their content
  • Tutorials and demos
  • Resources to download
  • Forums for discussing content and also to discuss the creation process
  • Friends lists – Friend of a Friend (FOAF)
  • Look for friends – include mobile phone number and various IM – to send swarms.
  • Invite Friends
  • ‘Wanted’ Notice Board: Order clips – include ad ordering, chatabox briefs, etc. “I need some clips of New York at night.”

Broadcast TV Integration

Chatabox will do deals with some existing broadcast TV networks to allow users to take clips from them. This will most likely be limited – at least initially – to public broadcasters rather than cable or commercial networks. Channels would be recorded and made available only to users in the legal jurisdiction. A simple DRM will be in place to limit clips to a certain length set by the channel owner.

API Strategy

The main use for an API will be to allow other video services to provide the clipping functionality of Chatabox. This way, Chatabox users can refer to them and link back to the host site.

Codec strategy

The entire site will be created as a rich Flash application and video will be played as Flash Video by default.

Videos will also be available to download in as many formats as possible. A favourable default could be determined as a high quality download if Chatabox was to work with a particular media player.

Mobile phones integration

Mobile phone integration will be important for content acquisition, community and monetisation. For example, users could upload video (or a series of stills) from their phones, vote on small number of Inbox clips, etc.

Most interesting would be a way to request footage. For example,

a user can send a message to all users in LA (who opt in) to request footage of something happening that day/hour/minute in LA.


As a business that relies on user generated content it is important not to over-commercialise the product too soon and turn away users.

Advertising will be the main vehicle for revenue. This will include users making the ads for the advertisers.


  • Buy professional studio tools
  • Mobile phone upload and download data charges
  • Bill to phone/Premium SMS (video ring tones, voting)

Everyone Gets Paid!


  • Make high quality, relevant content for less using the power of user generated content.

To do this, a financial model will be created that distributes the ad revenue between Chatabox, ‘Eyes’ and ‘Storytellers’.


Chatabox would naturally be promoted to English language jurisdictions such as the US, UK and Australia. Additionally we will target key markets such as China.

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Posted by Phil Morle at 11:15 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (2)

Chatabox.TV: A Powerpoint Technorati icon

| Filed under: Internet TV

This is the Powerpoint deck that I used most frequently when talking to people about the product. Usually, I just skipped to the middle bit where there were mockups of the product. People have heard the pre-amble about the opportunity in video a gazillion times.

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Posted by Phil Morle at 11:14 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

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