With video now available for your iPod, your cellphone, your television, your computer, your car, your sunglasses, and your refrigerator, there is only one place left for video to go. Before I tell you where that is (it should be obvious by now,) let me highlight recent announcements about the future of video.
- NBC News will begin providing “NBC Nightly News” episodes on the Internet beginning November 07, 2005, just a few hours after the episode airs on network television.
- Federated Studios, the producers of popular cartoons like The Powerpuff Girls (a personal favorite) and The Fairly OddParents, began offering last week a video podcast called Channel Federator. Quoting from the Channel Federator site: “We really love cartoons and the people who make them. Because of our day job, we see lots of excellent stuff that never gets seen by most people. Channel Frederator gives all cartoons a shot at being shown to the wired world’s masses.”
- Apple claims one million video downloads in the first 19 days of $1.99 music videos, Pixar shorts, and series episodes from Disney/ABC becoming available in the iTunes Music Store. Steve Jobs is quoted in the press release as saying: “Our next challenge is to broaden our content offerings, so that customers can enjoy watching more videos on their computers and new iPods.”
- Comedy Central is set to launch a broadband video channel called Motherload, consisting mostly of short clips from their existing cable network shows.
- MTV recently launched a broadband video channel called mtvU ÜBER with clips of their existing cable network shows, longer form content, and music videos, supported by advertising.
- Many technology news IPTV series are making iPod-compatible episodes and providing RSS feeds to automate downloading.
Meanwhile, vidcasts (another term for video podcasts) have become increasingly popular in just the past few weeks, as reflected in the increasing number of them rising in the ranks of the top 100 podcasts listed by iTunes. Several vidcast and IPTV directories have recently launched online to cover the burgeoning technology news and commentary series produced by amateurs and independent producers. Fan fiction and original fiction series are also increasing in number (as well as in quality) with Mighty Moshin’ Emo Rangers debuting today and Venus Rises coming soon, joining existing series like Star Trek: Hidden Frontier (completing its sixth season soon,) Star Trek New Voyages, The Scene, Red vs Blue, Stone Trek, and Ninjai: The Little Ninja.
Is this activity unrestrained hype or something significant? There is no question that the rapid-fire announcements coming from traditional networks and content producers are a knee jerk response to their uncertainty over piracy, consumer response to independently produced content, and the accelerating spread of Internet broadband around the world. The result is hype, as traditional content producers try to paint their picture of the future as if it was in their head this entire time.
Of true significance is the rapidly changing habits of televisions viewers growing accustomed to the Internet. The Internet is consuming television whole and transforming passive viewers into active participants. These new viewers want to watch AND create video content. They want to participate in the story, which they can do increasingly through video games. When they do passively watch video they want to do so on their own schedule on the device of their choice no matter where they are located.
And these desires, unleashed by the Internet, herald the radical change that will make this entire era of video transitory. Convergence will reach its logical conclusion inside of us. The devices – media player, television, radio, cellphone, camera, etc. – and their capabilities – mobile telephony, image taking, media playing, etc. – and their larger significance to communication, entertainment, and education are all coming together inside of the human body. The cyborg that results is not the Borg of fiction but a melding of technological capabilities with organic beings. It is not that the iPod of the future will be embedded in your body; instead, your body will become imbued with the capabilities of that iPod.
Of course, by that time the iPod itself will be a distant memory, it capabilities swept up into descendant technologies, not all of them physical and many of them purely digital. The leap from technology outside of our bodies to technology inside of our bodies may seem at best esoteric, but please stay tuned. I will continue to explore this idea here on Cybernudism.