Monday, March 27, 2006

Is the Future Bright or is it Dull?

Ive been asked to write a prediction of the future for an article. The following is very rough and definitely needs work in all departments but as a first attempt I'm actually quite happy (particularly considering it was written at speed due to two impending pitch deadlines). I must give a few credits to Mike Butcher, as I've nicked a couple of his gags from another predictions piece he did a few years ago, but it is mostly mine. Anyway, first draft:

In the future, the key word will be convergence. By 2011 media and the way we interact with it, will have changed significantly.

The power available to users has led to the development of hand held, combined mobile phone and computer in one, with Apple’s i-phone (launched in 2008) leading the field. These small handheld devices work with an earpiece and a small screen although trialling has already begun on a project chip inset into a special polarising lens oin a pair of glasses (referred to by Apple as the i-Lens) to provide a Heads Up Display (HUD) as large as a persons own desktop monitor. It is this product’s launch which most consumers cite as a reason why they would upgrade to Apple’s newest product the i-wrist, although the ability to hack another person computer to see their HUD without their knowledge (known as HUDJacking) remains a security concern.

All major towns, cities, roads and train lines now offer wireless broadband access for these devices, meeting the Information Everywhere marketing claims of the various service providers. A series of bolt on Bluetooth devices are also available. These include monitors and keyboards and Library Pods. Library Pods are large (500 Terabyte) disks which scan the various news and entertainment content providers for the latest programs. The then synchronise user specific content with each persons i-Phone. BitTorrent (newly listed on the NASDAQ) licenses its Peer to Peer sharing solution to all of these distributors in order to enable subscribed users to download the entertainment they want as fast as possible. All content is available as Text, Audio, Video or any combination to facilitate the needs of all users.

Access is via a subscription service with the BBC (newly merged with British Telecom) separately funded via a compulsory Airwaves License in the UK. The airwaves license provides free access to the network and also free access to communicate directly with any other user on the UK. Overseas consumers may also subscribe to BBC content and therefore enjoy reduced rates to contact UK consumers. The BBC is unique amongst content providers in that it does not advertise and is also the corner stone of the UK network. It’s ability to attract overseas subscribers has also bolstered its revenues although most overseas users consider the BBC to be too expensive. The UK consequently has the most expensive access to media of any western country.

The reason for this is that all other content providers subsidise access to their network via self profiling for advertising purposes. Users therefore choose to give as much or as little information about themselves as they wish but the more information they give, the cheaper their access to both the Content Providers content and also for access to the network. Currently only the top 10% of the population could reasonably afford not to receive adverts however over 99% have elected to follow this trend and receive specifically targeted ads during syndicated programs which they choose to listen to, watch or read. It is therefore possible to bring the cost of accessing the network down to little more than the cost of the Airwaves license itself. Ads are also permission served based on location with billboards recognising users who fit their profile and deliver highly personalised and tailored content as part of the ad. This has brought a wealth of interest from local advertisers as well as national and International brands.

The ads themselves come in many forms, from static and animated content alongside text content to fully interactive ads during syndicated video content, where the user interacts with the ad itself which closely resembles smaller versions of computer games from the previous decade. The vast majority of content is now syndicated with new content advertised during shows which have already been subscribed to. Very accurate viewing figures are now available dependent on download which together with the voluntary profiling of users has enabled highly accurate conversion metrics to be produced, many of which disprove many of the assumptions made in the past.

Two content types offer live feeds as well as syndicated content.

The first of these is provided by the various news services. In this the BBC stands as the champion of unbiased quality journalism and is one of the two largest companies in this space. The other is Fox News which champions the new, more popular form of journalism known as Viewpoint Journalism. These offer news and current affairs services which are loosely split by political stance and ideology, and provide consumers the ability to watch the same content but with a commentary position which closely matches their own based on self profiling. These are available in a user defined language and for every political viewpoint possible as well as Local, national and global content, although concern exists over availability of the far right fascist viewpoint expressed by the new Fatherland Russian News channel. This content is again interspersed with relevant ads.

The other form of content which offers this service is sport with all consumers able to watch live or syndicated matches from anywhere in the world. Ads are again displayed along with individual subscriptions. These rank among the highest subscriptions available.

Against this background is the User Content Service whereby any user can contribute their own and others commentary on current affairs or simply their own thoughts. Personal content is added in all formats such as video, text and audio this method of information delivery has grown to be a highly respected source of information. Some users built their own audiences which rival any of the main content providers and overall user content outnumbers professional content by 3 to 1. User Content was first to report the civil war in China, and the first to break the news of widespread corruption in the conservative government’s arms sales to Russia affair. Overall user content is considered the place where news stories begin and then are picked up by the professional press, and most news content providers employ a team to trawl through user content every day looking for leads.

The last of the printed press is due to disappear at the end of the year with only The Sunday Times and The Sunday Sun remaining. Most other news organisations have either been bought by the BBC or have re-launched themselves as glossy periodicals. It is suspected though that many of the user content providers are actually employees of these publications who want to bring an issue into the public eye.

Users also have the ability to splice the live content with their own entertainment and music in particular is very popular in this format. It is so popular that some shows have listeners which reach into tens of thousands and even hundreds of thousands.

For a user with an audience they are also able to display ad slots which are filled automatically by the Google Advertising Network. This network is the largest in the world and displays relevant ads to match the individual users profile in the allocated slots. This is the most highly form of targeted advertising available and is often backed up by high conversion rates which earns money for the user and Google.

On one of these show’s, this morning someone listens to reports on the business news that Apple is to be relisted as an apparel company and that BitTorrent has just broken the record for an IPO. Following this is commentary by an unknown user on political developments in the Far East and Russia and this is followed by a personalised ad for a holiday abroad in Turkey where the user last went 4 years ago. Finally the traffic news relating to the specific journey the user takes is broadcast followed by a track form one of their favourite bands.

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At 9:20 am, Anonymous Mike Butcher said...

Which article of mine did you nick the gags from then?

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