In recent months, a host of developers and TV enthusiasts have been working on ways to improve online trading — they’re building sophisticated networks to record and encode and distribute shows, and they’re improving peer-to-peer transfer systems to make downloading easier. The hottest new improvement is made possible by the merging of two Internet innovations, the peer-to-peer protocol BitTorrent and RSS, the popular Web syndication standard. Together, these systems enable a computer to automatically find and download a user’s favorite shows — something like having a TV station designed just for you.
Farhad Manjoo of Salon writes about technology for trading television shows online. While TiVo asks for permission from the FCC to release its TivoToGo service, developers using BitTorrent and RSS have created a similar system without restraints.