Sunday, February 28, 2010

2020 Digital Vision: Imagine...

Today we find ourselves grappling with waves of digital change. Some we watch come ashore and treat within the natural ebb and flow of progress, others are big waves that just like the surfer we must master, others are like tsunamis and although we know their impact will be significant and disruptive, we are powerless to stop them and can’t predict the resultant landscape.

Today’s World

Everyday we read every day about another digital public library offer. It as if the publishing world has not woken up, or even thought about the implications, potential risks and opportunities. They are now positioning themselves, or being positioned, as an enabler of change. They are moving from the back of the queue to the front. Overnight they could become the digital place of choice. We are moving from bookshelves and bookstores, which were physically constrained, to ‘libraries’ and ‘repositories’ that are virtual. The mere words should tell us who is in the best position to appeal and meet the needs - after all it says library on the can.

We have seen huge technology leaps in a relatively short period of time and in a decade, the laptop now finds itself within a smartphone, netbook and tablet. We have seen the rise and predicted decline of the dedicated ebook reader. Some will say that they are still on the rise, but many have already swapped their allegiance to the new multi media mobile player and that is only the start of what is to come. Anyone who wishes to see the potential futures should look at the work of Panav Mistry. We guarantee they will be disappointed with today.

Communications is no longer the dirt track it was only a decade ago. Video and streaming has not, as predicted, killed the network, but rather has made the networks respond. Bandwidth we thought was impossible a short while ago, is rapidly coming to all.

The Gorillas have come to the media backyard and want to own it. Goggle, Apple, Microsoft are no longer start ups but formidable global corporations that are capable of rapid change and have the ruthless ability to acquire any upstarts. The media publishing giants of yesterday are still stuck in their media specific silos and are powerless to walk away from the tunes these multi media pipers play.

We no longer need to visit friends, have dinner party conversion, or even go out. The friends we didn’t even know we had, had forgotten and even those next door are now just a click away 24x7. We no longer go the social club it comes to us.

Finally, we are now in Andy Warhol’s ‘15 minutes of fame’ world. Yesterday the media restricted our ability to gain exposure and fame, but today the media is enabling it to happen in many ways. Self promotion, publishing and recognition are becoming less of who you know and more about knowing what to do.


Let’s step forward a decade and gain some 2020 vision of what might happen and what the media world may look like.

We could finally break free of those technology boxes that have restricted our technology interface. No more PCs, netbooks, laptops even smartphones. We find ourselves in Pranav Mistry’s world of sixth sense devices. We can read off a blank piece of paper, project onto any surface, dial off the palm of our hands. Touchscreens were just the beginning of expressing ourselves intuitively and not through a keyboard.

Citizenship has been reinvented and now anyone can access anything for free via their citizenship. Libraries are virtual. The power of the developed world lies in the power they have to connect, share information and media resource and create social networks. The key is to gain conformity not through exclusivity but inclusivity. Goods and services are still traded, but digital media is now available to citizens on demand.

Content is not owned but on demand. Finding the digital needle in the digital haystack is where the power lies and Context not Content is key. Digital piracy was defeated not by DRM, DMCA or law, but by making content free through the public library. Why buy when it’s free from the nearest cloud? Pirates can’t compete with free.

The world of iCreate, iPublish and iDemand has changed the economics of much of media. Content has effectively been democratised. Rewards are still there and the public coffers have been expanded to pay out more on lending and through collection agencies. The power has shifted back upstream to the creator and downstream to the few aggregators who dominate the supply.

You may think we are dreamers, but we guarantee that we are not the only ones.

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