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.