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Josh TV

14 Dec 2023

My friend Josh and I were riffing earlier this year about what it’s like to “watch TV” now. He was about to become a parent, and so potentially was going to be watching a lot of TV (by way of unpredictable newborn sleep schedules).

We were talking about the flattening experience of scrolling a horizontal carousel of movies or TV forever. Maybe you’re scrolling on one of the 20 corporate streaming services…or maybe you’re scrolling on a carefully maintained library of gently-used mkv files…either way, you’re scrolling.

What if infinitely scrolling is a weird rut we’ve found ourselves in, within the history of how we watch TV? Maybe earlier eras of broadcast TV, which had way less choice, captured some fundamental essence of TV better.

We came up with an idea for software that would take his offline collection movies and TV and present them (randomly) on a “TV Guide”-like schedule. It’ll show you what’s playing right now, in case you’d like to tune in. But the schedule is also deterministic, so you can see what’s coming up later in the week in case something looks good. I started calling the app “Josh TV”:

Josh TV screenshot

The Josh TV app doesn’t actually play the media: you still have to go find the file, and press play. But by severely constraining the burden of choice, Josh TV guides you thru TV moods you may never experience when infinitely scrolling on a corporate streaming service: “nothing good is on, I’m going to do something else”, or “wow, I completely forgot about that show/movie, it’s really good”, or “I watched this because it’s on and though it would suck but it’s actually good” or “this sucks but I gotta watch something while I’m doing some chore”.

Josh TV is available here for anyone curious to try it out. The minimum requirements for running the app are “whatever Josh has”, which in this case means it runs on a Mac and uses a Plex database file.

  • Bennett on : need an "employee picks" section for all services

    right now we're on the "I do whatever the weekly Kanopy 'what to watch this week' email tells me to do" bumper sticker

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