Wednesday, July 11, 2007

We Are The World

In the 1930s, the epitome of futurism was Dick Tracy's wristwatch two-way radio. In the 1970s, Wikipedia recalls a TV series called Probe in which fantastic "agents for a group known as 'World Securities,' who were outfitted with various electronic implants, and were equipped with a button-sized 'scanner' that contained a micro-miniaturized video camera, microphone and transmitter, which connected them with a team of technicians and experts who constantly monitored his surroundings, actions and vital signs, and were able to supply the Probe with encyclopedic information on any subject" fought crime on a weekly basis.

Currently that functionality and more is available from any camera-equipped cell phone that can browse the Internet that is available at any shopping mall. And today, "Samsung Electronics will launch in Europe this month its Mobile Blog 3G Phone (SGH-L760), which allows users to upload content directly to blog sites on the Internet. The phone is expected to further fuel the current boom in mobile Internet and user-created content services, as it can upload directly to popular UCC sites like YouTube, Ublog and Buzznet."

It will also redefine just who a "journalist" and "correspondent" is. Today many events, such as the terrorist attack on Glasgow are captured on video either by video surveillance equipment or cell phone video cameras, which are even more ubiquitous than high quality digital cameras (many of which can record still, video and audio). And those are dime a dozen. It's conceivable that in the very near future, the proliferation of publicly deployed sensors will mean that the primary detection and capture of news events will originate not from traditional journalists but from whoever happens to be around breaking news. Statistically speaking, the chances a sensor-equipped citizen will be in any given place will far exceed the probability of a professional journalist "being there". Advances in technology will soon make it possible to arrange a video interview with anyone on the planet over cellphones. Any inhabited part of the planet will soon be viewable and any human being will be interviewable. In color too. Circumstances may compel the trade of "journalism", to shift from news gathering to that of data fusion, where different inputs are gathered together and presented as "news".

But journalists might have to compete with entrepreneurs who will see a business opportunity in creating routing schemes to allow interested parties to fuse data for reasons other than news. To sample the weather, traffic loads, social behavior patterns or even crime trends. Anything that can exploit the fact that hundreds of millions of people are going to be walking around the Earth's surface, each equipped with a data gathering tool that would exceed the capability of Dick Tracy's wristwatch radio or Probes's scanners. It will be interesting to see whether TV networks in the near future will still be paying millions of dollars to an anchor to read the news to an audience at specified times on TV.

Nothing follows.

7 Comments:

Blogger Starling said...

Wretchard said: Circumstances may compel the trade of "journalism", to shift from news gathering to that of data fusion, where different inputs are gathered together and presented as "news".

Sounds like what many of the better bloggers do now.

Wretchard said: It will be interesting to see whether TV networks in the near future will still be paying millions of dollars to an anchor to read the news to an audience at specified times on TV.

This aspect of the current business model could very well go the way of the vacuum tube and the horse-drawn carriage. But if the TV networks recognize themselves as (new) media companies, then they are well-positioned to capitalize on the changes overtaking their industry. What they may very well do- though it is by no means certain- is to pay tens or hundreds of thousands to people who do that "data fusion" thing which you describe and, I might add, do quite well.

On a related note, I'd like to recommend a book by a former colleague that addresses some of the same issues, though about a decade earlier, i.e. the transition from print to online journalism.

Digitizing the News
by Pablo J. Boczkowski

http://tinyurl.com/2r5x6z

7/11/2007 10:24:00 AM  
Blogger Alexis said...

'Twas an evening in October, I'll confess I wasn't sober,
I was carting home a load with manly pride,
When my feet began to stutter and I fell into the gutter,
And a pig came up and lay down by my side.
Then I lay there in the gutter and my heart was all a-flutter,
Till a lady, passing by, did chance to say:
"You can tell a man that boozes by the company he chooses,"
Then the pig got up and slowly walked away.


Blogs have their pitfalls.

The mainstream media, for all of its faults, has an historic relationship with its advertisers. Established media generally know where the invisible lines are between acceptable and offensive commentary. If anything, with the rise of YouTube and "gotcha" blogging, the range of acceptable commentary is narrowing.

There are several blogs that attract highly motivated people with polarized opinions. Despite the power of these blogs to raise money and staff campaigns, their opinions offend the vast majority of the outside world.

A wise politician would do well to maintain control over his political campaign. And his mouth. No "Macaca Moments" are acceptable. And this means keeping his distance from blogs that would tarnish his image if he associates his name with them. In particular, this means a wise politician will refrain from advertising at an extremist blog.

Imagine the effect of a politician advertising at a Nazi blog! Or a place where anti-Americanism is rampant. Or even a blog where the chorus line is "Nuke Mecca". When a politician associates his reputation with what is allowed in the comments section of a controversial blog, he leaves himself vulnerable. Very vulnerable.

I think the winner of next year’s presidential campaign will be the one who makes the fewest mistakes.

7/11/2007 12:03:00 PM  
Blogger James Kielland said...

Wretchard wrote:

"Advances in technology will soon make it possible to arrange a video interview with anyone on the planet over cellphones. Any inhabited part of the planet will soon be viewable and any human being will be interviewable. In color too."

And not just color: the speed of the improvements in video technology will very quickly leave the low-resolution surveillance camera feed in the dustbin of history. Those clunky, low-resolution YouTube feeds will likely soon be looked at as we looked at computers whose RAM is measured in kilobytes.

Many of us are already sharing High Definition video with people around the world or watching movie trailers in that format; vastly superior to broadcast television from just a few years ago. And HD is increasingly proliferating into the consumer space.

But it gets better. Jim Jannard, founder of Oakley y sunglasses, has started a new company that is producing a very interesting video camera: "Typical high-end HD camcorders have 2.1M pixel sensors and record with 3:1:1 color sub-sampled video at up to 30fps. We deliver 12M pixels at up to 60fps."

When Apple introduced a 30" LCD monitor a few years ago, it was priced at $3299. The same monitor goes for $1799, and less if you're willing to buy some other brand.

So it's important to consider not just the level of proliferation of sensors but to also realize it will soon be delivering up content vastly richer than what many of us imagine.

The dream of every witch-doctor, wizard, or magician from the beginning of known history has been to discovery paths of new levels of knowledge and to either rapidly travel to a distant destination of influence events in distant locations. It's already happening. But our current experience of the internet is but a faint morse code signal by a ham-handed operator compared to what we can reasonably expect in the next 20 years.

7/11/2007 02:06:00 PM  
Blogger Tony said...

The only limit is us, when we get blown full of info and pop like balloons.

Text Compressor 1% Away From AI Threshold

Slashdot, July 10, 2007

Alexander Ratushnyak compressed the first 100,000,000 bytes of Wikipedia to a record-small 16,481,655 bytes, thereby winning the second payout of The Hutter Prize for Compression of Human Knowledge and bringing text compression within 1 percent of the threshold for artificial intelligence estimated by the founder of information theory, Claude Shannon.




Accelerating-Intelligence News - You only have to memorize 16Mb of data to equal the lowliest IQ robot.

7/11/2007 08:00:00 PM  
Blogger Tony said...

Ooops,



Accelerating-Intelligence News

7/11/2007 08:05:00 PM  
Blogger D Boyd said...

"the primary detection and capture of news events will originate not from traditional journalists but from whoever happens to be around breaking news."

Fox News looks to be on this already. They are constantly suggesting on their news shows that people go to their website and download pictures of news events. Savvy move since they will be getting scoops for free.

7/11/2007 08:50:00 PM  
Blogger Karl said...

It occurs to me that in a world where "liveblogging" could be as easy as forgetting to turn off your cell phone, and where any conversation you have with someone could wind up transferred to someone's blog, it may no longer be reasonable to expect privacy as long as even one other person is around.

In particular, the journalist interviewing someone may have to assume the entire interview is winding up on someone's personal blog.

7/13/2007 03:33:00 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home


Powered by Blogger