Category Archives: New Media

History Is About To Repeat



I remember it well. Back around October of 2004, I first heard the word “podcast” used on The David Lawrence Show via my XM Satellite Radio. It sounded interesting, and I wrote it down on my driver logbook cover with the idea of looking it up later. I heard David mention it again once or twice over the next few weeks. Finally, in early December of 2004 I finally got around to looking it up. I found Adam Curry’s podcast, realized what it was, and knew that I felt compelled to not only listen to podcasts but get involved as a podcaster myself. This was exactly what I’d been looking for for many years – a wide variety of content that I could choose, download, and control the playback/consumption of on MY terms.

Podcasting took previously-existing elements and applied them with a new twist. MP3 files had already existed for a number of years. Virtually every computer already came with a sound card and had the basic ability to both play back and record audio. Portable MP3 players had been around for a while. Apart from Adam Curry’s and Dave Winer’s contribution of the podcasting concept and making it work, the one key element that suddenly made podcasting viable and actually inevitable was the fact that Internet bandwidth got good enough to make it practical.

Practical is an important key.

We have now passed another important milestone in terms of mobile bandwidth. Mobile bandwidth, while not yet perfect, has improved dramatically in both terms of data delivery and coverage. About three or more years ago I had experimented with streaming audio via my smartphone while driving my truck, and quickly determined that it wasn’t viable. I couldn’t listen long at all before I would lose the stream. No problem, I had plenty of podcasts to listen to.

I’ve been hearing a lot of people talk about Pandora.Com lately, so last week I finally tried the Pandora Android app out on my new Sprint HTC Evo. To my surprise, it worked amazingly well – even in Arizona and the western third of New Mexico along Interstate 40 where Sprint still has 1XRT service. The streaming music sounded great, and the few times it did briefly drop out in a couple of mountainous areas, it automatically reconnected and reestablished the playback stream.

(By the way, a side note – I was surprised to learn that Verizon has NO data card coverage around the Kingman, Arizona area – my Verizon aircard would NOT connect in the Kingman area.)

Streaming radio via the Internet in a moving vehicle is now practical. Smartphones have also reached critical mass to the point where they are really beginning to move into the mainstream. Even though streaming Internet audio has been around for quite a few years at this point, I believe the automotive market for streaming audio is about to open up in a massive way.

Up until this point most people have felt that streaming Internet radio had plateaued or was only going to grow slowly. I believe that improved cell networks along with smartphone proliferation will create a new market for streaming audio services. The automobile has been the traditional stronghold of terrestrial and now satellite radio services. An old kid that’s been around a while suddenly has a big and growing shot at a new lease-on life.

I believe opportunities exist for streaming Internet radio stations that deliver highly specialized content. For us geeks, imagine a 24/7 tech-centric streaming station. The sky really is the limit. The cost of running a streaming station can be very low, so therefore it becomes possible and practical to narrowcast to relatively small audiences.


New Media v. Old Media



How social media points the way forward for journalism. It’s a real example of how traditional media are becoming social media-aware and are using Facebook, Twitter and their ilk to get the news stories out faster and with more information.

However, what really registered with me is at the very end of the article.

There is a word of caution that goes with trusting what we read on this great “word of mouth” network.  Recent rumour mill stories on Facebook on the private lives of footballers ended up in the press and were proven to be totally wrong. So while this new technology can speed up the newsgathering process, journalists will need to make sure they do what they have always done – double check the facts.

I have real concerns about the loss of the old news media.  Obviously there’s no single cause but the rise of new media, the Internet “no cost” expectation and the “now” culture are all taking the toll.    But what will be the cost to our society when we no longer have professional journalists?

What will happen to investigative journalism?  What will happen when hysterical but unfounded rumours sweep across the social networks?  How will politicians be held to account when there is no-one to report on their mistakes?  How much more easy will it be to cover stuff up?

I can’t think of a single other instance where it’s become acceptable for amateurs to take over the role of professionals.  Would you want an amateur doctor to treat you?  An amateur engineer to design a bridge?  An amateur firefighter to attend an emergency?  No, I want these people to study for years to become competent at what they do.  Why should journalism be any different?  Just because you can string a sentence together, doesn’t make you a journalist.

Now, you may think that it’s a bit rich coming from a blogger for a major new media site but to tie this back to the original news story, I think it genuinely points the way ahead.  We have to get away from old media v. new media, it has to be co-opetition not competition, symbiotic not parasitic, and we have to find a way to reward news organisations and professional journalists to keep doing what they’re doing.

I don’t have all the answers, but I do know is that it will be social disaster if we lose professional journalists because we were too cheap to buy a newspaper.