Sunday, January 3, 2010

2010;... The Year of Living Dangerously

As the year and decade come to a close it is time to consider how far technology has evolved over the last ten years. It’s hard to remember where we were back then.

In the last ten years, I've had probably four different computers and on the third laptop, each one more powerful and more capable , and cheaper than the last one. Other technology has evolved over the last ten years. To go into the many changes would be redundant: as many other places are comparing then and now, better than I ever could.

The state of Media has been in flux for the several year as the big media companies struggle to find a balance between traditional broadcast style programming and distribution, and new venues and uses of their content.

They are finding that a mix of new and old content seems to be a draw. Sites like have done surprisingly well, combining a mix of both new and classic TV content. To many, they have set the bar for on-line streaming of video content. Various other network site have offered streaming media with mixed results. The media/content producers are desperately trying not to repeat the mistakes the record industry made with DRM on music and MP3s. Yet they want to continue to control how "their" media is used and how the consumer, their customers who put them in business, in the first place. Something they seemed to have forgotten.

In the way of physical media, VHS tapes have come and gone, DVDs are still here, although they compete with High Definition disc ,which we went through another "war' over deciding which format was to be the default format. Blu-ray won. The price of Blu-ray HD DVD players has come down, however it has to come down to DVD player levels to help it really take over.

However, delivery methods have evolved over the last several years. No longer is going to the DVD rental store and then having to remember to return the movie needed. Physical movie rental has all but disappeared in many areas.

With the mass adaptation of broadband, online means of delivery have taken over as more and more products that connect to the consumers local wireless network and allow for streaming of movies and other content either from the consumers local networked media, or from other online sources such as Netfliks, or Amazon and other Video on Demand sources.

For many years the line between traditional production media and web produced content has been a barrier for the growth of user-created content, which is what the vast majority of on line content is. Everything from YouTube video of silly people being silly, to semi-presesionall podcasts produced with a minimum of production standards. To original creative story productions. All of this content was confined to the computer. Getting to watch this content on any other screen was a challenge for even serious geeks. That was then; This is now; Now more and more machines are come through with options to hook directly to a new HD TVs either through a regular monitor connection that is on almost all new TVs, and some new laptops have HDMI out ports on them allowing them to plug into a free HDMI input on any HD TV. Web content is also being made available on a variety of platforms, ranging from "web Enabled" TVs to Blu-ray player that connect to your local wireless network, many will allow to use your Netflick on demand to stream movies directly over your network and through the player to your TV. What is meant by Web enabled is that the TV has what are called widgets built into the TV software that allow for a limited access of the net through your TV.

Other platforms have also emerged ranging from game consoles both the Sony PS3, and the Microsoft X-Box 360 both allow for access to the web in different foms, The Wii also allows for general web browsing through its Opera browser, which works good, but doesn't support the newest versions of flash, thus making it useless for watching anything other than YouTube which is built into it natively, Hopefully this will change soon, However it does work good for checking web based e-mail and the like.

Over the last several years, a number of company's both hardware, and content produces has come out with various set-top boxes the bridge the gap between the traditional TV screen and the computer screen along with several programs to turn a computer into a TV tuner and DVR. Also many cable and satellite companies now offer DVRs built into their set-top boxes. A product that I am particularly excited about is a box from Roku. They have a small set-top box the hooks up to your TV, and connects to your local network either wirelessly or wired. What this allows you to do is to tie your Netflicks account to the box, and then stream any of the movies in your queue to your TV via their box. Also Amazon on Demand has their content available though their box. Amazon offers both rental and movies to by as well as shows. Also as a side note MLB is also on there to. If you want to subscribe to their content. If you don't use Amazon, Netflicks, or MLB. the box cost you nothing. But it was pretty useless with at least a Netflicks account tied to it. Now there is more content available. Many web only services are now offering their content on the Ruku Box. They have offer what they call the channel store which offer a variety of free content. All streamed directly from the web. The list includes, Pandora, music streaming, FaceBook, Mediafly, Frame Channel, Flicker, MotionBox,, Revision3, and my favorite, Suddenly this become a really interesting box to connect to the TV, and bring in content that had been stuck on the computer.

Speaking of getting content off the web and into other venues; Mediafly is a big player in that regard. They make their content available to most portable platforms, iphone/ipod, and many smartphones such as the Blackberry, and any platform that can at least either download or stream audio, most will do audio and video content.

All of this merging of different types of content and media may leave one wondering what’s next. That is a interesting question. It’s impossible to say for sure who going to do what and in what format they will do it. I know of several different approaches to bring different media to platforms to which it has not been traditionally available . The mixing of platforms has traditional media content producers and distributors looking for ways to monetize their content.. without giving up control.. and still keep the consumer happy,,,

2009, and the decade before it brought about many changes. Many of these changes are still being felt now. The changes in 2009 will be helping to shape the digital future. Apple and I-tunes changed the look of music, and how and where it is played and how and where one can get it. TV and other media are going through the evolution as the music industry did during the last decade. Watching how this plays out will be interesting.

1 comment:

Hotonis said...

I know exactly what you mean, things have gotten extremely technological. I am a college student and tend to be affected by the newest of the new technology. I am planning on getting the android within the next couple months. My senior year in High School, every classroom got its own Smart-board (a projection screen that you can interact with on the screen itself). I take my laptop to nearly every class I am taking. I have many times used game systems online, and it seems like with every new game that comes out the online modes just get better and better. I have dabbled in World of Warcraft, and am a regular on multiple free MMORPGs. 10 years ago I used the Internet for online gaming the first time with Starcarft (blizzard inc.) Now if I am not connected to the internet, I feel bored... I take my phone into church services not to text, but to take notes.
I do wonder what is going to happen next with technology though. Sony spending millions in developing 3D televisions, and Disney networks beginning to provide special programs and shows in 3D such as the FIFA world cup this coming summer. The gaming company Nintendo is working towards basic holographic technology something never heard of before except in Sci-Fi movies. Another thing technology is doing is helping people to work out. The Wii has a game created by EA called EA Active that has diet plans, and an in depth supply of exercises that can be molded to a persons goals. People could order their groceries online, work for their company online, work out at home with little equipment, purchase everything they want online, and never have to leave the house. Sounds kinda scary in some ways. I do hope that people do not decide that it is better to never leave their houses do to this increased technology.