The Theory of Everything – Now on Video!

The Elegant Universe on PBS.orgHaving gotten so much from Brian Greene’s book, The Elegant Universe, I was pleased to learn (via that it was to be the subject of a documentary of the same name on PBS.

The entire three hour program is available to view in streaming video. Taking a three hour program to the web is an interesting challenge. When dealing with our own challenge of sharing a large amount of video from the Zap Your PRAM conference, we turned to the noble institution that is the Internet Archive. They are providing free bandwidth and storage for our conference recordings, as they will gladly do for any and all free and open media.

Since we were dealing with relatively lo-fi audio and video and presumably a relatively humble scale, simply chopping up our one-hour conference sessions into 100-200MB Quicktime files was sufficient (thanks to Peter for handling the video conversion). PBS has chosen a different technique for dealing with video on the web. They have divided each of the three one-hour programs into 8 chunks of Real or QuickTime video.

This micro-segmentation technique does work quite well for the web, these 6-8 minute chunks of video make are palatable on a computer screen and it is easy to pick up where you left off. That said, I would much rather let the entire video download overnight in a mammoth video (probably one video per one-hour episode) and watch the whole thing as it was intended. Bittorrent could help with the distribution, though it is limited to a small early-adopter crowd so far.

That said, I won’t let complaints about format keep me from enjoying the series. I’m off to watch it now.