Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Apple's iPad: Newton the Next Generation

The new Apple iPad is like the Apple Newton, but modern. The only feature I would want is handwriting recognition.

I was glad to see the art application they demoed, but think a dual input (such as touch and pen, like Wacom's graphics pads) would have been killer.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Who owns/controls Media?

When reading, searching and in otherwise trying to gain information/knowledge/ideas on a topic for my telecom class (Twitter: t101medialife), I saw a video (has the feeling of being old, but I think that more comes from production values, such as the hum, and the lack of editing-if I didnt have class and work tomorrow, I could stay up all night and edit it better, but not sure i could remove that hum) of Leah Lievrouw (she starts at 4:24, but video is long).
She talks of media relationships and ownerships and it got me thinking about several things, like who owns media and why is media so hard to 'control'.

I think it is that ideas transfer easily as does data on a network. Places like YouTube combines people watching videos and so data and ideas are transferred quickly and easily from person to person and place to place. But there are so many videos, how do you find something you want, or would even be interested in? Or would be interested in, but not that you are aware of? Aggregation of this media?

Another video I watched discusses meaning by Sonia Livingstone (who seems very brilliant and better video).

The discussion of meaning is not just lying around, but is decided on by the viewer and takes work. The 'Grab and Go' but do we know what we got and have we thought about it?

The meaning production takes place by the viewer (experiencer?) and not the producer.

Those thoughts from each of those videos got my brain going so much I stopped the videos (and I didn't have the time to watch 2 hours of video, need to sleep sometime). I wanted to roll those around, think about them, share them and now I am blogging about it.

Theft used to mean taking something away from someone else, but with digital data, copies are not degraded from the source and do not remove the original. It is funny that this concept which I believe was discussed in at some length in the past is finally starting to have an impact in society.

A quote from the 70's: "There is a viable alternative to the problems raised by Bill Gates in his irate letter to computer hobbyists concerning 'ripping off' software. When software is free, or so inexpensive that it's easier to pay for it than to duplicate it, then it won't be 'stolen'."
[See Copyleft at GNU or wikipedia]

Now, replace software with music and that should explain both music pirating and the success of iTunes. If the cost is too great (hassle, money, time, encumberment), people will start 'stealing', but again, it is not really stealing. The original is just fine and still there.

I would like to blame a mythical accountant or middle manager who wanted to point the finger at something besides their own failings or the failings of the company. They came up with some charts and a spreadsheet and at a meeting said "Look at all the lost revenue. If we had sold the Y copies shared, we would have made X dollars". I assume greed grabbed hold and did the rest.

If people wanted to pirate and not just get the music they wanted, iTunes (and now other pay music sites) would never be able to compete with music sharing sites.

People want to also play with media the way they want. This leads to more things that make large corporations unhappy and their lawyers very happy (think of all those billable hours). YouTube is full of fans playing with media, not to cheapen, distract or cause problems for the creator, but to express their own like (love seems strong) for that media.

What if the large corporations took the view point that this was free advertising, that more people would be exposed to their products and maybe even be willing to purchase products? Some have, such as Trent Reznor's take on selling music. He sells it and gives it away and makes more than enough to make a profit. Those who are willing to pay for his music get it and those who are not still get it. He even supports people playing with his music and has a site just for remixes of his music. I think more musicians are going to need to take that route. I am not sure how much longer 'rock stars' will be around.

Now, the world is not all rainbows and unicorns and I understand that people need to make a living, but it seems that 'maximizing shareholders return on investment' needs to take a longer term viewpoint than just this quarter or year.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Lenovo IdeaPad U1 Hybrid

I am constantly surprised that there are not more reconfigurable (on the fly) computers and am happy that someone is giving it a go. I just wish they had gone futher.

Start with a laptop in a docking station, then take the laptop part with you, then just take the screen. Seems logical and like a good idea.

Where I think they fell down in execution is that there are two separate computer systems that share URLs. Why have two computer systems? With processors that can slow themselves down and even shutdown cores, why make two different computers? Lenovo could have just packed the bottom/keyboard with an optical drive, more ports and a huge battery.

The power use could be tailored to how it is connected. In a docking station, run at full power! Just has the keyboard and extra battery, run at some middle of the road performance. Just the screen, then it could be configured to run a more power saving setup.

Add to that multi-mode screens (sure, the Pixel Qi is the only one now, but I expect some kind of OLED/Digital Ink hybrid to come along soon) and solid state drives and I think a product could be made that could be your desktop/laptop/tablet. As they are all the same machine, a user doesn't have to worry about syncing data between computers.

Maybe the fact that Lenovo's Hybrid uses two different operating systems is a clue to a possible issue? The main computer runs Windows, while the screen runs Linux.

Maybe Lenovo thinks that a purely Linux laptop would not sell, but that Windows7 is not tunable enough for low power to make the tablet portion work well.

Let me know what you think below.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Old Media Still Has Power

Old Media (newspapers, TV networks, etc) still have power, as pointed out by this Treehugger post.

The real question is, for how much longer? When will any newspaper become so unimportant that if they publish an article about something, businesses just ignore it instead of respond to it? Or, will they transform and adjust to currently available technology?

Well, Radio was to have killed Newspaper, but didn't. TV was feared to do them both in, but still hasn't.

Now the internet is supposed to lay waste to all previous forms of distribution? Probably not, atleast not anytime soon. As the more agile of these 'old media' companies start taking advantage of possible revenue-making approaches to current technology (it is not new, the internet has been around for awhile now), they will continue to be relevant. Until the next thing comes out that will destroy all previous forms of media, communication and distribution.

The newspapers, magazines, radio and even TV networks that think that if they do anything other than what they did before they will cease to exist (or not make a profit) seems so strange to some (read young, tech-literati). Looking into history will show you how each of the incumbent adjusted to the newcomer (or failed). Radio adjusted to TV. Radio has even adjusted to the internet (I can find more sources of radio content on the internet than I can broadcast television). Maybe Radio, as an industry, never got into the mind set that it was owed after TV came. It has been adjusting and making changes to try to stay profitable and survive.

As for Newspaper? I am sure that many charts, reports and other business tools keep showing them how much money they are losing. Newspaper seems to have a sense they are owed that revenue, not that they have to produce a product that someone wants. Some have laid blame on the internet for those losses (Rupert Murdoch).

The recent release of two videos shows that some publishers (Sports Illustrated) and others are thinking about how to reproduce magazine content electronically (Bonnier Research and Development). Both of these are a much better response to the internet and widely available internet access than the blame someone or try to legislate protection for your industry against newer technologies.

I hope more companies try to leverage newer technology for their benefit and to make their customer happy. Making your customer unhappy usually leads to bad things (see music industry and file sharing before iTunes Music Store).

A tool is still a tool, even if it is new

The linked to article says nothing new. Like when other new forms of communication became available to businesses, such as telegraph, phone, fax, or email, they are used to do basically the same things.

Communication technology, funny enough, is used to communicate. I dont see anything innovative about these. All of these could have been done with email. They could have been done with faxes, etc. And they were actually done with those earlier technologies.

Doing a quick Google search shows several pages that discuss how to use email for business, but you have to go back a page or two before you find them, as the idea of using email for business is kind of expected or taken for granted by most now.

So, technology is a tool. I hope at some point we will polish communication technology until it because so well understood that it will be like a hammer. Sure there are specific types of hammers, but everyone seems to understand what a hammer is for. Ok, there are some that may not know what a hammer is for, but if they see it used once or twice, it will become apparent what tasks you could use a hammer for.

What will this highly polished communication tool be like? Some weird combination of email, tweets, texts and instant messenger.

Or, it could be like Google Wave.