Monday, August 27, 2007

New Technology

I'm not really that big of a fan of new technology the way I used to be. It's gotta be relative to my needs, of course...I've always had less-than-newish computer equipment and always really wanted something new, but I couldn't justify the cost in my head. Now that I've got a Pentium 4 with over 2 gigs of RAM, and some cool add-ons (decent video card, TV tuner card), I'm pretty content.

But then this post got me to thinking: it's not about the tech for me. And even the internet is, as Mark Cuban puts it, dead and boring. The true potential is only seen when some sort of "upgrade" makes new things possible, things you couldn't do before. I've never had 2 gigs of RAM (256MB max), so I've never been able to run Photoshop, edit sound or video, or play a newish game. And I really only bought my graphics card so I could play Civilization 4 (worth it, but like all games, only for a little while).

It does feel good to have that potential at your fingertips though...after I bought my graphics card (over a year ago), I got to watch video on my home computer, in decent quality, for the very first time. It unlocked that door for me, and thanks to the internet, I can watch pretty much anything available online.

But, in reference to the above post, the internet is very much dead and boring. But it's not really the internet's fault. It's the damn web. There's only so much you can do through a browser.

Why isn't my browser more of a television? No, I don't mean more mind-numbing - it could be a totally different application, totally different interface. It could push content onto my hard drive while I'm away at work, and I could come home, and "flip" through a few channels which I, along with the guidance of some "site" (though I hate the word because it has web connotations), choose. That'd be pretty cool.

Maybe I'm in the mood for some new music, or better yet, some new music musical tastes plus my appreciation of a certain director causes a video by XYZ to show up - maybe I'll rate it after I'm done watching it, improving the system and catering to my tastes. Most people would give up that data to a third party any day. It can show how popular an artist is, and maybe if creative works were licensed with a fair scheme, my favorite artist might get paid more if others appreciated it as much as I did.

If you want me to draw a conclusion about why this type of thing will never happen, well, there's no single right answer. Your ISP makes money by overselling bandwidth. They assume you're only using it in tiny, short bursts (web traffic), and they are pissed about the advent of p2p sharing, VoIP, and Youtube, all bandwidth-intensive applications. They can easily throttle traffic or cut you off completely if you're using more than your "fair share". And who are you going to turn to? They're the only game in town.

But who this really hurts is the music and movie industry. They're sitting on a brand-new content delivery system while they lose money to piracy and lose face by suing users who download and share music. People are growing accustomed to getting content when they want, and in a manner they want - and if it's easier to pirate it for free, they're going to do just that. On top of it all, look at how the movie industry treats their clients - if I buy a DVD for 20 bucks (or an HD-DVD for 35), I am FORCED to sit through commercials that I cannot bypass. If I download a copy of the same movie, I just get the movie!! Brilliant!!!

There's a dollar to be made in all of this...

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