Musings on the Future of Digital Media – Software or Being connected

Computer, Gedanken, Hardware, Medien, Netz, Software November 3rd, 2010

This is the third and last part of my series concerning my ideas on the future of digital media. After discussing the ’net in the first and the hardware to get access to it in the second installment, i will now try to cover the software part of connectedness.

I have disabled comments for this post. For discussion of this and the other two related articles, please head over to wbf2010.at. Reopened comments.

Software

After having successfully established the possibility of getting connected with everybody at all times, software defines all functionality building upon this universal connectedness. Software tries to inscribe specific usage scenarios into itself, but it has to be continuously adapted because of users utilizing the software in ways not intended by it’s programmers in the first place. The way of the connected masses will always stretch the limits of published software, just as the connected few are the most powerful group structure for the basic innovation of functionality in the first place.

Since all software is written in structured programming languages, written pieces of software should be treated like every other wirtten piece in every other language, especially when it comes to patenting. Therefore, software should be treated only by copyright laws and not by patenting laws.

Social Media

Social Communications and Collaboration is considered one of the top 10 strategic technologies for 2011 by Gartner. As such, it was not the hardest prediction to make, since Facebook now captured half a billion people, of which 50% log in on any given day. What renders 2011 special in the development of Social Media is that it will be the first year of aggregating fast mobile access and advanced internet technology in its full potential.

Content & Meaning

The ’net promises to connect every human being on earth with every other. Social Media are structuring and restructuring these connections continually. The content pushed into the Social Media space as well as the connections of the content within the Social Media space provide value and meaning for both the site providing the possibility of creating connections and the users getting connected. Meaning is subjective and always subject to the eye of the beholder. Therefore, the value of specific meanings to people may vary in the emphasis put on the meaning of content or that of connections.

Connecting Content

Handling content is no longer a problem for each Social Media site. The type of content is of no importance, since major platforms for all types of media are already in existence. Further inroads can be made only by connecting content of the same or different users between different sites and therefore allowing users to accumulate a digital identity on a number of sites and in a number of graduations, promoting different parts of her or his digital identity on different sites. A digital identity describes all interconnected traces of a specific user within the digital realm, even if the connections are not provided by the user himself. Users connecting their digital identity to another automatically become part of the other.

The future must lie in the evolution of connection control. Current Social Media platforms provide their users only with a low level of connection control. Privacy describes in part what connection control is about but puts emphasis on the content and not on the connections of a digital identity. Full connection control needs to encompass both parts in full. Diaspora seems to incorporate some understanding of the need to recover control not only over oneselfs content but also over ones connections.

Group sizes

The evolution of media in general is a drive towards individualization and separation especially of those small groups, humankind is used to live in. As crowds are getting smaller and smaller in real life, virtual crowds are getting larger and larger. The ’net has had a deep and profound impact on human society, since it separates them in the physical world, only to drive them back together in the virtual.

Blogging

Blogging cannot be considered a social media. It is quite lonesome, as it fundamentally incorporates the idea of writing a series of articles alone on a single site. All social elements of blogging are secondary of nature and created through active participation either by readers for example through comments or by the blogger himself. The blog content will always trump all social elements provided.

Blogs are discourse-machines. Contributing to an ongoing discourse creates links – or the possibility of links – between thematically connected blog entries. These discourses are no longer remaining in the virtual, but with the inception of the Barcamp, a discourse can be taken to the physical realm easily.

Blogging is as well already an established journalistic form, even if only vaguely defined. The one leading principle of blogging is the blogger. She or he remains at the core.

Conclusion

We are reaching the end of the transition period from analog to digital media. The internet as digital universal transmission platform started to act as a transmedial aggregator for digitalized content. Social Media describes a specifically connected type of content, which always relates to the digital identity of someone. Connecting content to establish a true digital identity in a reasonable, secure and private manner is the next big challenge, regardless of platforms or sites.

Musings on the Future of Digital Media – Hardware or Getting connected

Computer, Gedanken, Hardware, Medien, Netz, Software October 14th, 2010

Within the second part of my series on ideas regarding the future of digital media, i will try to take a deeper look on the hardware side of all things connected. In the first part, i have defined the internet as a digital universal transmission platform, which Kevin Kelly views as the ultimate machine mankind has ever built. Being connected to the ’net is imperative already and the pressure to be always on will become even stronger. But with what kind of device and for what purpose are we gonna be connected?

Classifying Devices

For the moment, four specific always connected device classes are to be defined:

  1. Phones
  2. Tablets
  3. Laptops
  4. Desktops

These four classes can be parallelized in parts by a categorization provided in this article by Mark Segal on O’Reilly Radar. He defines devices by their portability as

  1. Wearables
  2. Pocketables
  3. Bagables
  4. Portables

Wearables are smaller than phones – at least for the moment – and desktops no longer portable. Desktops could be considered as moveable. The less portable a device gets, less people will own one of these devices, as usage scenarios of Portables or Non-Portables will become more and more specialized.

According to Gartner, 1.2 billion mobile phones were sold in 2009. Compared to the 306 million computers (laptops and desktops combined), portability has already won by far over functionality, but the latter is moving fast into the former.

Individualization

Additional individualization of entertainment will be driven by devices like tablets. Everyone can view the content she or he wants to, alone or in the company of others. Enjoying togetherness when watching a movie will no longer be the norm as it was with the cinema or the TV. The TV-set as the main screen of the living room will loose it’s importance accordingly. Even more, considering the fact that the experience of watching a movie will rather be shared online and only afterwards discussed with the people around you. That means, even the function as the digital hub of modern home entertainment as promoted by Steve Jobs in 2001 will be lost by the TV-set.

Accordingly, the computer (laptop or desktop) and the TV-set share the same fate. They were built for being used by a group of people. All desktop-class operating systems accordingly have multiuser possibilities. This is not true for personal devices like a phone or a tablet. They are – at least for the moment – not considered to be used by more than one person. They therefore have no possibility to “create another user account” They don’t need another. They are hardware personalized. Based on this individualization, it is of utmost consequence to localize people by their phone, no longer by postal address. Changing the underlying media means changing the addressability of people. People are found no longer at their homes or work, but at their current location, even when moving. Everyone has to be considered the center of his very own universe.

Nomadisms

With the hardware being bound to the individualized user and the user being is own center of his universe, location gets irrelevant. This placelessness of the mobile hardware and the therefore implicated placelessness of it’s carrier will lead to the formation of a new kind of nomads solely based on information and communication. Since being connected means being connected to your friends, and everyone is equally spaced to everyone else within the context of the net, being somewhere equals being everywhere. These communication nomads will be counterinsurgents to the continuous building of nations and states, the one inherently placed, the other placeless.

Usage scenarios

As already stated, all functionality is trickling downwards into the mobile realm. For example video editing became very fast available on the iPhone with iMovie. Which functionality, which apps, will stay on these “biggest” device classes? The most specialized, like 3D-apps and scientific apps like Mathematica. And they are to stay. The reason to this lies not in the needed processing power – calculations can easily be moved into the cloud – but in the complex visualization of data, the greater need for detail and the need to access a multitude of functionality to manipulate this data.

I have disabled comments for this post. For discussion of this and the other two related articles, please head over to wbf2010.at. Reopened comments.

Musings on the Future of Digital Media – Internet or Establishing connections

Computer, Gedanken, Hardware, Medien, Netz, Software September 27th, 2010

It’s been quite a while now since Richie Pettauer announced the World Blogging Forum 2010 in Vienna, Austria and provided the conference topic: “The Future of Digital Media”. Since this topic gives a multitude of opportunities to express my own thoughts on how digital media will develop or evolve in the near future, i want to do just that within this three part series of posts. The second part will cover my thoughts on the development of hardware to access the net, the third part will discuss the topics of social media and blogging.

As this article is to be seen in conjunction with the World Blogging Forum, i’ll use English as the lingua franca for this post, as English will be the main communication language for all participants at the WBF or in the adjacent online discussions. And since this is the case, please accept my apologies, my English got a bit rusty lately. I have disabled comments for all three posts. For discussion of all three articles, please head over to wbf2010.at. I have reopened comments on all the articles again, since WBF2010 has come and gone and centralized discussion is no longer of utmost importance.

Please always read “In my humble opinion” in front of every sentence.

What is to be defined as digital media?

To talk about digital media is to talk about media in general. Mass media is in the process of being broadcasted digitally only, the internet never new a state other than that of digitality. There never was an analog internet, when you place the beginning of the internet with the development of the TCP/IP network protocol by Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn. All currently deployed analog media will go the way of all media, they recede into history and art. The time, when digital media in everyday life was an exception, is over, the tide has turned, analog media is the exception now.

One could argue, that radio is broadcasted mostly analog and that print media is in itself an analog medium. Well, yes, but radio is in general not more than background noise to replace other background noise with, and print media in it’s classical form is in the midst of becoming fully digitized.

The Internet as Digital Universal Transmission Platform

I always had troubles with coining the term Internet. I therefore have developed an understanding of the term Internet in its broadest possible way: the internet as a digital universal transmission platform based on the aforementioned, name-giving transmission protocol. Using this definition, the term internet remains as open as it should be.

Since all digital data can be transported over the internet, and media in itself has become digital, all media will be transmitted in one way or the other over the internet. Solutions for all media are already in place and highly functional. Internet Radio, the WWW, Video-on-demand boxes like the Roku or AppleTV, Voice-over-IP, you name it. The digitized state of media is currently it’s most desired form, it’s transmission is readily available in rapidly growing bandwidth and the possibilities to consume media, as well as the possibilities to talk about it’s consumption afterwards in forms well dominated by media, are more varied than ever. The ready availability of media is linked desirably to the social wants of humankind.

Gaining access to this platform every time and every place will become ubiquitous in the nearest future not only for western countries. In the wake of the introduction of 4G mobile networks, wireless access will soon take over wired access in importance for every user accessing the net as an individual. I will try to discuss the implications of individualized access points later on.

Edit

I watched Kevin Kelly’s Ted Talk on his predictions for the next 5,000 days worth of internet development again yesterday and i do have to say, that his ideas are sounding very interesting to me, especially regarding his view of the internet as the ultimate machine built by mankind, to which everyone will be connected and therefore everyone will in some sense be part of this machine. He calls this machine simply “The One” and every device connected to the One a window to the endless possibilities provided by it.

Ein Tablett voll Apfel

Apple, Computer, Hardware, Kommentar, Medien, News, Software January 29th, 2010

Nach Jahren der Gerüchteküche und des Geredes und nach noch mehr Jahren, seit die Idee des Tablet Computing geboren wurde, hat Apple mit seinem iPad ein Gerät dieser Kategorie auf den Markt gebracht. Dass mit diesem Gerät die Idee des Apple Newton und damit des Pen Computing nicht wieder auflebt, obwohl die äußere Form ähnlich ist – im wesentlichen ein Touchscreen und sonst nichts – ist durch die divergenten Eingabeparadigmata leicht erkennbar. Insofern blieb Steve Jobs seiner Ankündigung aus 2004 treu, den Newton nicht wieder zu beleben.

Ich habe eine erkleckliche Anzahl von Artikeln der letzten paar Tage gesammelt (siehe unten) und bin nicht überrascht ob der vielen negativen Reaktionen speziell die Funktionen und Ausstattung des Gerätes betreffend. Was da alles in der Gerüchteküche gebrodelt hat, muss diese Art Rückschlag verursachen. Eine überhitzte Medienschlacht an Meinungen und jede Menge gezielt (?) gestreuter Informationen kann nur eine ungenügende Erfüllung der überzogenen Erwartungen zur Folge haben. Vielfach wurde der Mangel an Schnittstellen, die fehlende iSight, das iPod-Betriebssystem, kein Flash-Support, begrenztes Multitasking und der Name kritisiert.

Ist die Kritik gerechtfertigt?

Kommt ganz auf den Standpunkt an.

Wunschliste

Ich hatte genauso wie alle meine Wünsche an das Apple Tablet. Die wesentlichsten davon waren:

  1. hohe Portabilität bei größtmöglichem Bildschirm
  2. hohe Bildqualität in jeder Betrachtungs- oder Beleuchtungssituation
  3. ein ausgefeilter PDF-Reader mit allen in Acrobat zur Verfügung stehenden Notizfunktionen – ich lese Text für gewöhnlich nicht nur, sondern kommentiere ihn ständig. Meine Bücher sind übersäht mit PostIts
  4. eine sinnvolle Textverarbeitung
  5. einfache Texteingabemethoden
  6. Kompatibilität mit der bestehenden iPhone-Software
  7. ein eBook-Reader mit Notiz- bzw. Kommentarfunktionen (siehe oben)
  8. die Möglichkeit, Präsentationen über das Gerät einzusehen und zu halten
  9. Eine VGA- oder DVI-Schnittstelle für den Anschluss eines Beamers
  10. einfache Synchronisation mit meinen Daten (Mail, Adressbuch, Kalender,…)
  11. Zugriff auf das Filesharing meines iMacs auf Festplattenebene
  12. einfacher Datenimport und -export zum/vom Gerät
  13. einfache Speichererweiterung (SD-Cardslot,…)

Soweit ich nachgesehen habe, hat Apple die meisten Punkte meiner – zugegeben nicht sehr langen – Liste erfüllt. Aber ich muss gestehen, dass ich keinen Bedarf an 3G-Uplinks habe, auch nicht an einem zusätzlichen Vertrag mit einem Telefonie-Servicebetreiber, oder eine Kamera in dem Gerät haben möchte. Für mich ist das Gerät überwiegend als Ergänzung zu meinem iMac interessant, als Möglichkeit, meine Daten in einer sehr praktischen und komfortablen Weise immer dabei haben zu können.

Ein paar Punkte, die mich ob der Kritik, die ich gelesen und gehört habe, ergänzen möchte:

Zur fehlenden Kamera

Warum hat das Gerät keine zum Benutzer schauende Kamera für Videokonferenzen? Allein die Vorstellung, dass eine Kamera fix an einem Punkt im schwarzen Rahmen des Geräts eingebaut ist und man sie für Videokonferenzen benutzen möchte, lässt mich erschaudern ob der ergonomischen Probleme, die das verursachen würde. Ich gehe davon aus, dass es genau diese ergonomischen Gründe sind, warum diese eben nicht eingebaut wurde. Für fünf Minuten ist es ja kein Problem, das Gerät senkrecht, mit ausgestrecktem Arm, vor sich zu halten, um ein gutes Bild von sich selbst zu erzeugen und gleichzeitig ein Bild des Gesprächspartners zu sehen, welches man ob dieser Entfernung im öffentlichen Raum anschreien müsste, damit das Mikrophon genug Schalldruck abbekommt. Für eine halbe Stunde? Nein. Natürlich, man kann den iPad einfach vor sich hin stellen, an eine Wand lehnen. Die Vorstellung der Vielzahl von ad-hoc-Zen-Mönchen vor weißen Wänden. Auch nein. Oder in den Schoß legen und den Kopf hängen lassen. Aber geh.

Dass die Platzierung der Kamera die Orientierungslosigkeit des Gerätes – alle Seiten sind gleichwertig – ruiniert hätte, kommt noch dazu. Im Moment kann, aufgrund des Designs und der Benutzeroberfläche, das Gerät gehalten werden wie auch immer gewünscht. Jede Richtung ist korrekt. Integriert man eine Kamera, geht diese Äquivalenz der Seiten verloren. Wie bedeutend das ist, wird sich allerdings erst in der Benutzung herauskristallisieren.

Eine Fotokamera wurde im wesentlichen nicht erwähnt, ob der Größe des Gerätes wäre es aber recht unhandlich zu bedienen. Ein iPhone ist für diesen Zweck viel geeigneter.

Zum iPhone-Vergleich

Überrascht haben mich die vielen Vergleiche mit dem iPhone in technischer – siehe Kamera – und in menschlicher Hinsicht. In diesen Vergleichen wird stets angenommen, dass sich die Käuferschichten des iPhones und des iPads decken, dass iPhone-Besitzer die primär zu adressierende Zielgruppe ist, wenn man das iPad verkaufen möchte. Ich sehe das etwas differenzierter. Da ich selbst kein iPhone habe und mir demnächst auch keines zulegen möchte – wesentlich aufgrund der relativ hohen monatlichen Kosten für den Telefonie- und Datentarif – falle ich sofort aus der iPhone-Zielgruppe.

Warum will ich das Ding dann trotzdem?

Während das iPhone ein Kommunikationsgerät (communication device) ist, ist das iPad vorwiegend ein Inhaltsgerät (content device), mit eingeschränkten Kommunikationsmöglichkeiten. Für meine Telefoniebedürfnisse reicht ein billiges Handy und ein billiger Vertrag mit oder ohne Bindung, meinem Umgang mit eBooks, pdf-Dateien, Bildern, Präsentationen, ToDo-Listen, E-Mails oder Notizen kommt das iPad mit seiner multitouch-Oberfläche sehr entgegen. Arbeiten an digitalen Daten wird durch die sprichwörtliche Angreifbarkeit zum haptischen Erlebnis.

Die angebotene Tastatur ist für mich ein Anachronismus, eine Konzession an alle, die mit Tastatur und Maus am Computer sozialisiert wurden. Notwendigkeit besteht für beide keine mehr. Es wird spannend zu beobachten, wenn Kinder ohne unsere klassischen Eingabegeräte den Umgang mit dem Computer lernen. Der Rückgriff auf Tastatur und Maus, indirekt auf das klassische Desktopparadigma, ist in meinen Augen ein fatales Missverständnis des multitouch-Konzepts hinter dem iPad. Die Forderung nach dem klassischen Mac OS X daher eine verfehlte, Windows XP oder 7 auf Tablet PCs noch viel mehr.

Für den Erfolg der Plattform werden die Softwareentwickler und deren Ideen zur Integration von iPad-spezifischen multitouch-Konzepten in ihre Programme verantwortlich sein, die angebotenen Inhalte jeglicher Natur, sowie die erfolgreiche Kommunikation des Bedienkonzepts.

Linksammlung

In weiterer Folge ein “paar” Links zur Berichterstattung zum iPad. Kein Anspruch auf Vollständigkeit, alphabetische Sortierung der Publikationen.

All Things D
First Impressions of the New Apple iPad (Mossblog)
The iPad Is a Multimedia Device. So Where Are the Media? Be Patient. (MediaMemo)
Touch-Up: Apple’s iPad Improves Multitouch and Gesture Capabilities (Digital Daily)
Meet Apple’s iPad: Starts at $500, Supported by AT&T (Digital Daily)
Look Out, Dell, HP, Lenovo: iPad Is $499 (BoomTown)
It’s the iPad! 10 Hours of Battery Life, $499, 9.7-Inch Screen, and It Does Laundry! (BoomTown)
Before the Tablet: Apple’s Steve Jobs in 2004 Talks About Not Doing Another Newton (Video) (BoomTown)

AppleInsider
Hands on with Apple’s iPad (with videos and photos)
Apple posts QuickTime video of CEO Steve Jobs’ ‘iPad’ keynote
First iPad estimates: 4 million units in year one, 8 million in 2011
A closer look at Apple’s iPad bundled applications

Ars Technica
Insanely great? Ars reacts to the Apple iPad
Protestors: iPad is nothing more than a golden calf of DRM
Hands-on, first impressions, and Photo gallery of Apple iPad
Apple announces the iPad

CrunchGear
Apple has a solution for the iPad’s missing SD card slot and USB port: adapters
The iPad: our take

Daring Fireball
The iPad big picture

Engadget
The Apple iPad: starting at $499
Switched On: The iPad could succeed Apple TV
Editorial: Engadget on the Apple iPad
iPad or Kindle: will our wallets decide?
Apple iPad’s user interface in pictures
Apple iPad’s ‘Micro SIM’ explained
Apple announces iWork for iPad
Apple reveals iBookstore and app for the iPad
iPhone SDK calls out nonexistent iPad cam, confirms split views and popovers are iPad-specific
iPad vs. iPhone… fight!
iPad iBooks will be US only at launch?
Apple iPad first hands-on! (update: video!)
Apple iPAD outed in Borders bookstore survey?
Apple iPad tech specs: rumor vs. reality scorecard
iPad can run all iPhone apps unmodified, new iPhone SDK out today lets developers tweak apps for iPad use
Apple’s iPad keeping Adobe Flash away from your couch
Apple iPad launch day roundup: everything you need to know
Apple’s iPad keyboard dock, case and other accessories get the hands-on treatment
iPad powered by custom 1GHz Apple A4 chip
iPad won’t handle GSM voice calls — or will it?
Apple’s A4 chip is ARM Cortex A9 with an ARM Mali GPU?

Fast Company
Meet the iPad, and All of Its Ready-Made Competition
Apple’s iPad Name Not the First Choice for Women. Period.
The iPad’s Biggest Innovation: Its $500 Price
iPad Fact and Fiction: An Interactive Guide to Eight Years of Rumors and Reporting
Apple iPad Launch by the Numbers
Master of Magazine Design, on How iPad Will Revolutionize the Discipline
Can iPad Come Out and Play? Oh, Yeah: Game Industry

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
Jobs präsentiert “iPad” – Apples Computer für alles und jeden
Was serviert Steve Jobs?

Futurezone @ ORF
Apple stellt Tablet iPad vor
IPad: Der Kaffeehaus-Computer

Heise News
iPad: Apple präsentiert das erwartete Tablet
iPad: Multimedia und Apps für Couch-Surfer

helge.at
Warum das Apple iPad ein Megaseller wird

Huffington Post
MadTV’s iPad Video: Sketch Show PREDICTED Apple Product (blöd, wenn es “Pad” mehrere Homonyme hat…)

iLounge
Apple iPad Case

GigaOM
Alan Kay: With the Tablet, Apple Will Rule the World

Gizmodo
Apple iPad First Hands On
Apple iPad First Device to Use “Apple A4″ Processor
Apple iPad Hardware Revealed

GOOD.is
There Will Be No iTrain: Try Not to Get Too Caught Up in Apple’s Announcement

MobileCrunch
New iPhone SDK with iPad support coming today, 100% compatibility with iPhone apps

New York Times
Is the iPad the Final Nail in the GPS Coffin?
Three Reasons Why the iPad WON’T Kill Amazon’s Kindle
Three Reasons Why the iPad WILL Kill Amazon’s Kindle
Monitoring Twitter’s iPad Commentary
A Video Demonstration of the iPad
The iPad’s Name Makes Some Women Cringe
With Its Tablet, Apple Blurs Line Between Devices

O’Reilly Radar
The iPad and publishers: A survey of early reaction

Pentagram
Five Ways the iPad Will Change Magazine Design

The Register
Apple iPad spanked with Defective by Design protest
Steve Jobs uncloaks the ‘iPad’
Apple’s iPad – fat iPhone without the phone

Roughly Drafted Magazine
Daniel Eran Dilger’s iPad Apple Event Photos

Der Standard
Steve Jobs stellt Apple-Tablet “iPad” vor
Apple schließt Lücke zwischen iPhone und Laptop

TechCrunch
Confirmed – iPad to ship in Europe in March
Pictures: The iPad Being Manhandled
Everything You Need To Know About The iPad
Apple Doesn’t Own A Single iPad Related Domain Name
The iPad Is Like Holding The Future. But Only Because I Graduated From iPhone School.
The iPad Vs. The Kindle: How Should Amazon Respond?
Adobe: Flash Apps Will Run On The iPad, Even Full Screen At Some Point
As Publishers Try To Adapt To The iPad, Startups Spring To The Rescue
The iPad Comes With iBooks And Will Cost $500 To $830
Video: The iPad In Action
Think iBooks Looks Familiar? You’re Not The Only One.

The Unofficial Apple Weblog
First iPad sales estimates: four million this year, double that in 2011
Video of today’s Apple event is now available
Tom Bihn announces two iPad bags
What’s missing from the iPad
Apple making its own chips starting with the A4

VentureBeat
No Flash on Apple’s iPad

Wired
A Closer Look at Apple’s New Tablet, the iPad
Hands-On With the Apple iPad
Can Apple’s iPad Save the Media After All?
Eye-Catching iPad No Revolution, But Shows Promise
Analysis: Apple Bunts on iPad Gaming
With iPad, Apple Still Has a Fatal Attraction for AT&T

Zeit Online
Enthüllung in San Francisco
Apples Luxus-Notizblock

Simplicity sells

Apple, Computer, Hardware, Software October 29th, 2009

Eine alte Design-Weisheit, von David Pogue bei Ted sehr unterhaltsam präsentiert. Inklusive Einlagen am Klavier zu Bill Gates und Steve Jobs. Aufgenommen wurde der “Vortrag” 2006, die Beispiele sind ein wenig älter, aber er behandelt ausschließlich grundlegende Wahrheiten.

“Why i have to click ‘Start’, when i want to shut down the computer?”