Salon has an interesting article by Farjad Manjoo, Must-download TV [salon.com], looking at the emerging marriage between BitTorrent for media downloads and RSS for notification. While not directly addressing PVRs, it does speak to potential futures of media distribution, which is an area near and dear to PVR users.
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.The main Buttress site seems to be down at the moment but other similar apps mentioned are TV RSS (a Linux-based RSS-linked downloader).
This reminds me of the fansubbing culture associated with anime where Japanese and Western fans work together to translate Japanese anime shows for a global niche audience often within hours of the shows being broadcast on terrestrial Japanese TV.
Media demand is global but the content providers have yet to develop a business model to effectively provide that media to a global audience, and thus the lovers of the content have to "break laws" to watch their favorite shows. It is, as the hackneyed phrase goes, "a lose-lose" (in the sense that the content providers perceive that demand as theft and the content viewers often cannot get what they want when they want it legally.)