Heading to Germany for a Test Run

28Jun11

We’re in the countdown mode preparing for our trip to Germany, leaving Vermont on July 31 to settle in Göttingen for the year. But today I leave for a short trip to Germany to speak at the Storyworlds Across Media conference in Mainz, speaking about how television serials have struggled to find ways to incorporate transmedia storytelling effectively into their narrative strategies. The conference looks great, and I hope to connect with Europeans to network with during my year abroad.

I’m also taking advantage of being in Germany for a brief time to test out possible ways to plan for being a media scholar abroad. One of the challenges in packing for a year abroad is figuring out what type media I need to pack and what I can access online. So in the next few days I’ll be test driving my new Slingbox to see how well it plays with my TiVo as one way to maintain a connection to American TV while abroad. And I’ll also see how my VPN connection or connecting to a remote desktop server might help me get to Netflix, Hulu, etc. (Any advice is welcome!)

One of the odd side effects of technological innovation is that it creates stress through what it makes possible. A decade ago, the idea of streaming media libraries or a remote connections to my new TiVo was simply unthinkable, so I would have just accepted that a year abroad meant a year of being disconnected to American media. Now that I know what I could possibly access, I’m motivated to come up with strategies to maintain the connection. Two decades ago, the last time I lived abroad during a semester in London, I remember bringing dozens of CDs and a portable stereo so I wouldn’t have to grapple with months without music. Now I can fit thousands of songs on the various devices that we’re already bringing, but I’ve been furtively ripping my CD collection, planning for what various members of my family might want to listen to.

Not that I’m complaining – everything is amazing, I’ll try to be happy:



8 Responses to “Heading to Germany for a Test Run”

  1. 1 tourist

    What about just using Bittorrent for all your media needs?

    • Because that would be illegal and wrong…

      • 3 tourist

        Would it, though? From what I understand, you still plan on keeping your TiVo subscription – so you’re still a paying customer. The only difference is in the way you choose to consume what you’re paying for, and an RSS feed automatically downloading all your favorite TV Shows straight sounds a hell of a lot more convenient to me than whatever a remote server over the Atlantic can accomplish.

        On the flip side, I don’t know if it’s /illegal/, but being that Hulu is being paid for by American advertisers, watching it outside of their territorial designated area might also seem wrong by those standards. As far as I can tell, Netflix also seems to be working on a US-only model (though I haven’t looked into it that closely, so I could be wrong). I’m assuming the reason is bandwidth-related, so again – not playing by their rules can seem wrong, although obviously not as much, since you’re still paying for a subscription.

        More importantly, I would argue that as a media scholar, you might be interested in the way a growing number of people choose to consume their media. Especially outside of the United States, where the availability of such content might be delayed at best – if shown at all – using these methods is almost essential if you want to take part in online discourse.

      • I was just kidding! I actually wrote a piece a few years ago arguing the legitimacy of selective torrenting for media scholars.

      • 5 tourist

        You raise some good points in that article, so I don’t mean to push, but what is keeping you from making the transition if not legal and moral issues?

      • The main reason why torrenting isn’t quite enough for me – if I were hypothetically to do such an illegal and wrong thing – is sports. I’d like to be able to TiVo a match & watch it here via Slingbox, which seems like it would work. The other advantage of Netflix/Hulu is the instant access – especially for my kids, it’s nice to be able to pull up a menu for them to choose from, rather than wait for a download. We’ll see what works…

  2. An update from Germany:

    My Slingbox works fine, although sometimes my TiVo wigs out a bit. Alas, my college’s VPN does not register as being in the US, so no access to Hulu or Netflix. And the attempt to use Remote Desktop to watch via an American computer didn’t work either. Back to the drawing board…


  1. 1 The Chutry Experiment » Tuesday Links: Hulu, Arcade Fire, UltraViolet

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