What started with harmless LOL cats has turned into an overcrowded arena of content sharing that leaves many users of the Internet feeling overwhelmed. Between pesky pop-ups, commercial clutter, and potential viruses many people have turned their backs on the World Wide Web and opened their eyes the world of Apps.
But what is so appealing about an Application you pay for that gives you the same information as the free open web. Could it be the sense of security you get when you have to login with a username and password or is it the clean, friendly user-interfaces of the apps that draw people in. Well it’s a little of both and then some.
According to Virginia Heffernan of the New York Times, “Apps sparkle like sapphires and emeralds for people bored by the junky nondesign of monster sites like Yahoo, Google, Craigslist, eBay, YouTube and PayPal. That sparkle is worth money.” But it’s not just about the sparkle either. The ease of access to specific or time-sensitive information, while on the go, is something that is priceless for many consumers.
CONNECT WITHOUT YOUR COMPUTER
As the Internet continues to expand, so do the devices that facilitate it. In the near future, the majority of Internet surfers will be riding on the wave of a wireless device as opposed to a traditional computer.
In fact, according to Larry Greenemeier of Scientific American, “Traffic from wireless devices will for the first time exceed traffic from wired devices by 2015, when wired devices will account for 46 percent of IP traffic, while WiFi and mobile devices—including smart phones, laptops, tablets and other portable gadgets—will account for 54 percent of IP traffic.”
This change is not just because people are always on the go but also because the traditional open web has been flooded with information and devices allow user to be much more selective in the information they receive. Apps are developed specifically for certain types of users and the information they seek, which reduces the amount of clutter and disheveled information users have to sift through. With the explosion of Apple’s Store, there is literally an app for everything and as technology permits, the capabilities of these wireless devices will only continue to become more advanced and complex.
GREATER CONNECTIVITY EQUALS GREATER CONTROL
Stated by John Villasenor of UCLA “For the first time ever, it will become technologically and financially feasible for authoritarian governments to record nearly everything that is said or done within their borders–every phone conversation, electronic message, social media interaction, the movements of nearly every person and vehicle, and video from every street corner.”
As the reach of the Internet grows, so to does the reach of government control. With smart phones and other internet-enabled devices, we are connected to networks that are constantly being monitored by certain government personnel in order to “keep us safe.”
Safe from what I ask? Bomb threats via text message? Pssh! I mean come on; the whole monitoring of phone calls and text messages is just a way to keep us in control, by making us monitor ourselves in fear that government goons in masks might abduct us, because of a text message we sent. It’s just another fear tactic.
Make us panic as a nation with so-called terrorist attacks such as 9/11, then come to our rescue by passing laws that strip us of our civil liberties like the Patriot Act, but oh its ok because “we are safe now.” Thanks Government!
All of this monitoring in the name of security for our people is a load of crap, for lack of better words. Now I know what your thinking, “Why in the heck would the government be interested the text conversation I’m having with my friend about Bagels?”
John Villasenor, of UCLA gives us the answer in his research for the Brookings Institute. “The ability to record everything will tilt the playing field back in favor of repressive governments by laying the foundation for a plethora of new approaches to targeting dissent.”
He further explains that this type of control would allow authoritarian governments the ability to perform “retrospective surveillance.” So if someone is convicted of a crime, police or authorities will be able to look back in time at the offenders phone conversations, travels, contacts, and any other information available on their phone or computer that might lead to further conviction.
Personally, I use the internet/iPhone as my second brain, and why not? The Internet is like the brainpower of everyone combined. But not all of the information on the Internet is good. It is still at a point where you have to sift through a host of crap to find what you’re looking for. As mentioned before, the App Store has solved that to a certain degree, giving people their own clean little niche interface that makes them feel comfortable and only presents the information they want in that App.
This is a great advancement in terms of filtering and organizing data into neat little platforms of information, but I think that eventually the Internet will function just as intuitively as our brain does, literally becoming part of us. Kind of scary right?
This is still a ways off in the future but I see it like this. All of our devices from phones and iPods to computers and TVs will be linked between the Internet and our brains, so that if we think about how to bake a cake, for example, multiple results for baking a cake will present themselves on whichever device is physically closest to us at the time.
Or maybe there will be a sensor developed in laptop track pads for the future that can pickup the electrical pulses send from our brains. We will simple think about what we want to see or hear while touching the pad and BAM! There it is.
As stated by Barry Glick, “Over time, as the Internet matures, it will become something that is completely inter-woven [into] the fabric of our lives and not even something that we specifically tap into, but is just always presenting information to us.”
Due to advancements in technology, mainly the Internet, the future of traditional broadcast television has been called into question. In this post I will put myself in the shoes of a TV Network CEO as I try and understand how to adapt to the changes we have seen in television and the way we watch videos.
The way people watch TV and the reach of television has changed dramatically over the course of a decade, and continues to change. As a Television Network CEO I am now competing with companies such as Netflix and Hulu that have capitalized on the ability to stream video on the Internet. This explosion in Internet video watching has slowly been stealing away my viewers. Nielsen.com estimates that almost 145 million people watch video online in the U.S., compared to about 290 million who watch traditional TV.
In order to maintain my viewers I am going to invest in high quality shows that make money because they are specialized for certain loyal niche audiences.
This is a transition we have seen in television with many stations, because television can no longer survive on advertising alone. In the old days, according to Rob Levine, “Since networks only made money on advertising, they chose shows that would reach as large an audience as possible, whether or not individual viewers felt strongly about them.”
Now we have seen a transformation in the quality of show being produced. Hit shows like Mad Men shown on AMC or Modern Family on ABC are making money because they appeal to a loyal niche audience that will practically pay anything to see their favorite show.
I will invest in high quality TV shows that appeal to a loyal niche audience, because they are going to be willing to pay the high cost of a cable subscription to my networks shows if they are quality. As technology becomes more individualized and personalized toward the consumer, it is crucial to appeal to individual interests as opposed to mass appeal.
The idea is to capture audiences with narrowly defined interest areas and the advertisers who covet them.
I will also invest in technology that allows me to directly measure which channels my viewers are watching and at what times, so that I can better advertise to them. According to Dave Morgan, “For system operators, their ownerships of directly measured data and access to smart digital set-top boxes could transform their heretofore limited advertising businesses.”
Dave Morgan is CEO and founder of New York-based Simulmedia, a TV ad targeting company. I can use technology like Simulmedia to help improve the relevance of the ads I run on my Network. My customers will be more inclined to watch my station if they enjoy the TV shows, but also the ads in between because they are actually relevant.
In an article by Marco R. della Cava of USA Today, we learn that Youtube has invested millions of dollars in order to start producing their own line of web only TV shows.
“For now, YouTube isn’t likely to serve up the next Modern Family. Instead, it aims to provide short niche content for an increasingly fractured audience, says Shishir Mehrotra, vice president of product management.”
So as long as I continue producing quality shows, like Modern Family, my viewers will continue to pay their high cable subscription to keep my networks channels.
I will continue producing quality TV shows and using the data I have collected with data collection services, I will be able to measure which one of my shows is the most popular.
As we have seen with the introduction of Smartphones, every form of media is going mobile. This is the next big concern for a Network CEO like myself. How do I make the transition to mobile TV?
Beginning with the standardization of the Internet Protocol Suite in 1982, the Internet has grown into a vast computing resource that has profoundly changed the lives of individuals worldwide. Most of these changes brought about by the Internet have been beneficial for humanity but some have affected the lives of individuals negatively.
CONNECTING AND SHARING
One of the biggest and most influential changes brought about by the Internet is the transition from individuals as consumer to individuals as producers. With the Internet every individual has the opportunity to have a voice and to contribute his or her ideas to the world. NYU Professor, Clay Shirky expounds upon this change.
”What we’re seeing is that people weren’t couch potatoes because they liked to be, we were couch potatoes because that was the only opportunity given to us.“
According to Shirky, young people with access to fast, interactive media such as the Internet, are shifting their attention away from media solely for consumption, such as TV, and using this time instead, to produce and share content.
The Internet has also changed the way people connect with each other and has enabled new forms of human interactions. Through Facebook and other Internet-based platforms people have the ability to interact with other individuals from around the world. Whether through instant messaging, video chatting, or blogging, the Internet allows for instant connection.
Though, the Internet can bring individuals together, it can also pull them apart. The Internet, along with all of its components, directly affects how individuals view themselves. MIT Professor, Sherry Turkle, delves into this topic in her latest book, Alone Together. She discovers that mass immersion in virtual worlds like Second Life, MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games) and social networks begins to dehumanize individuals.
Virtual reality pioneer, Jaron Lanier also expresses his concern with the Internet in his book, You are not a Gadget, and helps to point out some of the less opportune changes caused by the internet in the lives of individuals. He explains how because people are constantly connected to the Internet, they are less connected to each other. Instead of talking to a person face to face, most interactions occur online, and people begin to lose the natural connection. Some people spend more time blogging, tweeting, or facebooking about what they did yesterday than they do focusing on what they are doing today.
The Internet is not perfect, but through revolutionizing the way individuals connect and receive information, the Internet has provided much more flexibility and freedom in the lives of individuals. For example, with the Internet, instead of waiting tirelessly for the weather segment to show up on the local new station, individuals can quickly access the weather or any other information on the internet, and for most, directly from their phones. However, this change has also affected the lives of individuals who work in journalism and who rely on viewers to watch their program or read their newspaper.
IMPACT ON JOURNALISTS
With most news transitioning to an online format, many journalists and news staff have lost their jobs, or their job description has changed entirely. According to Kim Hynes, former Anchor and now Digital Content Manager at KWCH Broadcasting, every reporter and most employees they hire are now required to know multiple skills other than just journalism, such as how to edit video.
“In order to survive in the ever-changing world of Internet journalism, you have to know how to do it all and how to learn on the fly”, she says.
One editor of the Wichita Eagle Newspaper, John Boogert, also expresses his thoughts. “I am not longer just competing with the local newspapers to get the latest story out. I am competing with the entire world, so it is a never ending process.” Boogert also expressed his struggle to create an interesting news story that people want to read after they have already heard about it all day on Facebook and Twitter. John Boogert is referring to the boom in amateur journalism brought about by the fast accessibility of the Internet and the introduction of Internet-enabled mobile devices. This ties into Shirky’s idea of consumers becoming producers. Individuals no longer just receive news; they create the news as well.
The Internet has also brought cloud-based software, which has given individuals the power and freedom to work from anywhere. No longer being tethered to one computer where the software is stored allows for greater flexibility. Individuals never have to waste time storing data or saving content to their computer when everything is self contained and stored on the internet.
The Internet has literally made the possibilities in the lives of individuals endless. Businessmen have the ability to collaborate on global projects with people from across the world. It has changed how individuals meet each other, providing a neutral meeting ground, where individuals can more or less shop for the traits they want in a partner. This gives individual even more selection and possibilities. With access to so much information on the Internet, people are much smarter, and more self-reliant. More people search the Internet for how to change their oil now, before going to a mechanic. These days, most people even shop online, which saves them time and money.
With the collaborative power of the Internet, individuals are building a better, more cooperative world, a world in which everyone is informed and connected. This connection has changed the lives of individuals in so many ways, and despite some of the downfalls, has been an extremely beneficial contribution to mankind. Overall, the Internet has given every individual a chance to produce, share, and most importantly connect with the rest of the world.
Today, communication happens as fast as we can touch a few buttons, and with the Internet we have the ability to choose what information we receive and from where. Because of technology, the content we receive and the media form it takes is more personalized and individualized than ever.
Where as in the past, few producers aimed to appeal to a wide audience, we are now seeing many producers creating content for smaller niche audiences and individual interests. And it’s not only the elite that are producing content. Thanks to the Internet and cheaper technology, we have seen consumers becoming producers, and many other changes as well.
I take a look back at an article call the The End of Mass Communication written in 2001 to gain some inside on this media transformation. Authors Chaffee and Metzger delve into what they call, the demassification of communication in this profound study of the media we use to communicate and how technology has transformed this.
FROM SENDER TO USER
In the early days, according to Chaffee and Metzger, “Centralized control of media content by professional and typically wealthy gatekeepers quickly characterized most mass communication.” This centralized power over media led to fears that producers could use media to control the masses. Everyone watched the same news station, television shows, and everyone received information from one source. If that source told you that overeating was healthy, you believed them because you had no other sources to compare it to.
However, because of advances in technology, the way we receive information is no longer centralized around certain elite media groups. We now have thousands of different media outlets or sources of information, and with the Internet these sources are growing daily.
As Chaffe and Mettzger had suggested, the control has shifted from the sender to the user, and from the few to the many. We, the many users, have total freedom to choose the type of information we receive and the form that it takes, and even at what time of day we want to receive it.
Today, everyone goes to their favorite radio or TV station or website to find the information that they consider credible and they can also cross check information because there are so many different outlets of information.
We are no logner stuck hanging onto, and believing every word that the only broadcast station in our city was saying. We have new media options, but with the introduction of new media, what happens to old media. Chaffee and Metger say that control by elite groups would be harder, but old media like TV and radio would never die out.
They were right. In fact, today more people watch TV than ever before, one of the main contributors being the freedom we have in choosing when and where we want to watch a specific TV show. Another contributing factor being related to niche markets and the thousands of different TV shows that appeal to those niche markets.
This ability to be so selective in the media we want to see or hear has created certain niche markets that Chaffee Metzger refer to as well. Once a niche market has been created, a new producer of content, like a TV station, will corner that market and continue producing content progressively more relative to that niche interest. The Internet has made the possibility for niche markets endless.
Since the article by Chaffe and Metzger was written, we have seen the rise of Facebook and Facebook advertising. The genius that is Facebook gives the creators access to your “likes” or personal interests and uses this information to advertise more relative products to you. Some feel this is appropriate and even beneficial while others feel like they are being used and its an invasion of privacy. read more (Information at the cost of advertising)
In terms of news, the number of news sources continues to grow, so there is no longer one centralized media source. “The problem is that the public will not be able to come together over common issues because there will not be any issues that they share in common.” Chaffe and Metzger refer to an example of how centralized media helped provide assistance to millions of starving people in Africa during the 1980s.
So as our news becomes less centralized around the elite broadcasting stations, (Fox, CNN) do we lose the ability to unify as a nation, in order to achieve one common goal? At first I thought, yeah we are less unified, but at the same time since this article was written, media has progressed even further to the point of instant notification. So the opposite might be true.
Even though we don’t all huddle around the same news station at the same time of night anymore, we are constantly informed by notification systems set up on our SmartPhones, for example. This allows us to react even sooner than if we saw it on the news. Eveyone knew about Whitney Houston’s death, for example, in a matter of minutes. This is not as important at the example in Africa, but it shows how quickly we can react as a nation together.
ONE WAY COMMUNICATION TO TWO-WAY INTERACTIVE EXCHANGE
“The increased bandwidth of the Internet further enhances users’ ability to become content producers and to produce material that is fairly sophisticated at low cost.”The exchange of information is no longer unidirectional, as Chaffee and Metzger point out.
The film industry is a perfect example of this phenomenon. In the early days, few elite studios such as MGM and Warner Bros ruled the film industry, but as technology advanced and became cheaper, more and more studios started popping up. These days technology is much more available and easy to use. Anyone can buy and camera and begin producing, or for that matter a smart phone and begin recording and producing content to share.
Look at youtube. It totally revolutionized the way we watch videos and share content. It has only been within the last ten years, that we as consumers of movies, have had this ability to film, edit, and produce our own movies to share with the world.
NYU Professor Clay Shirky discusses this new ability to share at a 2010 TED Conference. Shirky presents a population study, which shows that young people with access to fast, interactive media such as the Internet and youtube, are shifting their attention away from media solely for consumption, such as TV, and using this time instead, to produce and share.
Chaffee and Metzger state that, “The real problem for anyone producing content in the new media environment will be in figuring out how to capture people’s attention amid the plethora of competing options.”
As we can see today, Chaffee and Metzger were very accurate in their observations about the future of mass communication. The world of mass communication that we once knew has been ‘demassed’ and personalized for the individual consumer. Our media options have expanded drastically in the last decade, allowing everyone total freedom to choose where their information comes from and at what time.
As technology continues to infiltrate every niche of our lives, how do we remain human, and keep from losing ourselves in the virtual networks and worlds we have created? In this post, I look to Sherry Turkle’s book, Alone Together, to gain some insight on the matter.
In one instance, Turkle interviewed a man who openly shared the fact that he was playing four avatars in three different virtual worlds, all at the same time through various windows on his computer.
“He told me that ‘real life is just one more window.’ And he added, ‘its not usually my best one.’ Where was this heading?”
My first thought was, why would somebody spend all day living in virtual worlds, when you can enjoy real life?
Then I began to look deeper at the benefits of living in a virtual world, such as Second Life. One can be whoever they want to be, without any feelings of insecurity, because no one in a virtual world knows the real you. It sounds great, but in reality, these virtual worlds are mere distractions from our true selves.
Among the heart of these distractions lay Facebook. Believe it or not, even though your grandma has a Facebook, there are still some rebels who don’t, despite the peer pressure. One such person, and many others express their distaste for Facebook in this New York Times article.
I am seriously considering quitting Facebook myself. I joined Facebook because all my friends were on it, but it always seemed like one big competition to see who could have the most friends and photos, and now its even worse. Its awesome to connect with so many friends, but when you see someone who has 1000 friends and you only have 100, even though you know it doesn’t matter in real life, some small part of you feels lonely.
Facebook is a vicious cycle. I was always afraid that if I didn’t log on, I would miss out on some event or party only posted on Facebook. Therefore, if you want to be in on the conversation, then you have to frequently visit the site. When you do not stayed updated on the latest feed, then you begin to feel disconnected because you are no longer part of the conversation, causing you to go back to the site to feel connected again.
I don’t claim to be a perfect user of technology. I have fallen prey to Youtube surfing for hours or playing a video game online all night, but for the most part, I aim to use technology to better myself as a human being, not as an avatar.
APPS THAT ROCK
I am loving my iPhone, for example, because I can record or jot down ideas for a song or a video or even some points to include in my blog post. Not too mention that I just downloaded an app that turns my iPhone into the most accurate guitar tuner ever. It is incredible! However, these modern conveniences enabled by technology don’t always come without a price.
As Turkle talks about doing research for her book, Alone Together, she expresses great fear about the future of technology and how it will shape our lives and the lives of our children. She makes a great point in saying that these days, when many people are insecure about relationships and anxious about intimacy, we look to technology for a way to be in a relationship, while protecting ourselves from them at the same time.
The risk and fear of not being accepted by other people keeps some from making an attempt to connect with people at all. A computer doesn’t judge, or make fun of you. It only responds to the data you enter. Therefore, a virtual world gives you total control, in a world that feels out of control.
Where as, in human a relationship, there is a shared sense of control, and the discrepancies that to along with that are too much for some to handle. This is especially an issue for someone who has faced much rejection in his or her life. Then they are even more inclined to give up on real life and stay hooked into a virtual life. The worst part is that the longer this seclusion perpetuates, the harder it is to reconnect to real society again.
Turkle uses an example of robot animals at Disney’s Animal Kingdom to further explain the appeal of virtual worlds. It turns out that people thought the robots acted more realistic, because they we more animated, and said that the real animals were basically boring.
Based on Turkle’s studies, apparently this applies to our view of humans as well. Some people would rather interact with a virtual human, because they think real humans are boring. What does this say about the value of life? Does this mean that the heightening of senses we experience in a fantasy world, make real life more dull?
ROBOTS BECOMING HUMAN
Later in her Introduction, Turkle begins talking about robots and their progressively more intimate interaction with humans. She disputes ideas taken from David Levy’s book, Love and Sex with Robots. From better lovers to better friends, Levy claims that robots will eventually become better at being human than we are.
Robots can never make a personal connection because they can’t relate to the human condition, but they have changed the way we connect with each other. Turkle points out that most of our interaction with each other is still mediated by computers, making them an essential part of us. For example, in this video presentation, Turkle talks about how high school kids reported that they can sense when their cell phone rings even when its in their locker, referring to technology as a “phantom limb.”
This is not far from the truth. After all, technology is a part of us and always has been. A human created every speck of technology, and as with any act of creation, a part of the creator is infused in the creation.
The problem with technology as an extension of ourselves, is that we become dependent of it and begin to feel alone without it. When we feel lonely, we text instead of call or get on Facebook instead of searching for a personal connection, because it’s easy. We are becoming, not only physically lazy, but mentally lazy as well.
As technology continues to become a bigger part of ourselves, it continues to shape the way we view each other and ourselves. The real shame that I see in all of this, is that this technology discourages soul searching and finding your true self. If you don’t like something about yourself, you can make an avatar in a virtual world as a quick fix, instead of dealing with those issues.
People will never learn to accept themselves, and to see the innate beauty that lies inside of them, if they continue to take the easy way out. They will continue to look to their virtual worlds for some sense of self and meaning. However, the more we delve into our virtual worlds, the more we lose touch with reality and the true meaning of life.