In the past few days I've watched these videos:
Joi Ito's presentation on World of Warcraft at the 23rd Chaos Communication Congress
Link to video.
Lawrence Lessig's 23C3 presentation on the nature of Free in Culture and Code
Link to video.
A round table interview at CES with Bill Gates on Microsoft and coming technology
Link to video.
That's two and a half hours of geekitude right there.
The iPhone looks sweet in every conceivable meaning of the word. When it rolls out in June, I'll definitely be heading to the Apple or Cingular store to check it out. The "multi-touch" interface looks intriguing, but I'll have to try it out first. The motion sensor that automagically changes the screen orientation depending on which way it's held is a fantastic idea. The "visual voice mail" concept is brilliant too. Having the ability to sort through and listen to any voice mail is a technology who's time has come. I am concerned about the screen though. I hope Apple's invested in some super-mojo scratch resistant material for it.
All in all a great showing from Apple. Finally some one introduced a product that might just be an iPod killer. Oh wait. Even at the large price points, the iPhone is sure to be a hit. But I'm sure as hell not planning on buying the first generation, and neither should anyone reading this. Wait for an updated model and let all the early adopters and fashion buyers test it out first.
"So, the mobile lifestyle you say? I already have texting and email. What else you got?"
How about television for a start. The U.S. cell carriers have already introduced video services like Verizon's V Cast and Cingular Video. MobiTV is television for mobile devices with a line up hovering around 50 channels. And Modeo just announced a mobile TV beta available New York City.
Are those services are too limited for you? Try customizing your own mobile television experience. Sling Media was showing off their version of SlingPlayer for PalmOS at CES today. Sling allows you to watch and control television on a PC. Not just your PC, any PC connected to the internet. You can use SlingPlayer in conjunction with a SlingBox at home to stream television
straight to your hand held device.
"But those tiny screens," you say. "They're just too small for me." It is true that most mobile devices have tiny screens, especially compared to television sets. One solution that's in the pipe: video projection. Microvision is currently developing a "tiny projector for mobile devices." There's still a lot of work to be done, but I think this technology will be huge in coming years. Combine this with video and television
service, and you can have a micro home theater in your pocket.
Note: I know the preceding sounds like a commercial, and in a way is. But I'm not getting paid for this, though it would be nice. This is just some of the technology I'm the most excited about.
I know some people are sick and tired of it already, but it's coming. In some places it's already arrived and thriving: Japan and Korea, and Finland too thanks to Nokia. There are a multitude of factors slowing the adoption of a more mobile lifestyle in the United States as apposed to Asia and Europe, not the least of which is our geography. (Although I will lay some of the blame at the feet of of the Telcos.) So for those of you who have no interest, there is still some breathing room yet. But not for long. I hope to expand on what this mobile lifestyle may mean in the future, but today it's all about the toys.
The CES(Consumer Electronics Show for the non-geeks) kicked off today. The official start date is the 8th, but several companies had keynotes today and are already showing off new products. I plan on using the opportunity to highlight some of the new gadgets on display that mesh with the mobile lifestyle I was talking about. I'm not attending the trade show, and have no reason to, so everything in these posts will be lifted straight from tech sites like Engadget and TechCrunch. I make no apologies.
Kicking off this week are a couple of sweet ultra portable computers. These are not PDAs. These are full fledged, hand held computers running Windows XP(and Vista capable). Just about everything you would expect a desktop or laptop to have, these puppies have too. Processor speeds of 1+ GHz, plenty of RAM and tens of GBs of hard drive, all included.
OQO is featuring their upgraded handheld PC, the Model 02. Engadget also has a video up of a hands on demonstration by company co-founder Jory Bell.
Also on display from Sony is the Vaio UX.
Slashdot linked Wired's predictions for 2007 today. I saw it in my feed reader a few days ago, didn't read it then, and went back and read it today. I think a few of the predictions might come true, but I wanted to highlight the last one:
MySpace Spaces Out
MySpace splinters as teens head for niche sites. New services that control profiles across multiple social networking sites begin to take off.
I don't know how it will happen, but I do believe that MySpace's numbers will fall this year. If not the "official" number of subscribers, then certainly their growth rate will decline. Everyone seems to be predicting that though. What I'm looking forward to is the second part.
The ability to control social network profiles from disparate sites through one service. Hot diggity do, wouldn't that be grand. My prediction is that the first startup that can introduce this functionality, and do it well, will be the Web X.0 darling of 2007. The hurdles facing such a setup will be huge though. I can't imagine the current crop of content providers wanting to relinquish any control or the precious page views that come with it.
Last night I updated my sidebar. Notice the new links to my content at the top left. After finishing though, I got to thinking about the site and layout design, and adding new content. Does it really matter, or rather will it matter in the future? (In my case probably not, I'm one of millions of bloggers with one or two readers, not complaining!) For now it makes a difference as people are still coming on-line and discovering new content. And new
ways to access and aggregate that content.
Take a look at this list of feed readers. There's what, 60 or so? All four of the major browsers, IE7, Firefox, Safari, and Opera, now have RSS buttons by default, allowing users to subscribe to the sites they are interested in. The proliferation of feed readers amongst the overall on-line population can only increase in my estimate. Until finally it's the default way of the internet. Brad of Brad Sucks supplies the
money quote in this post about Google Reader:
"It’s changed the way I read the web."
Of course, users have to find new content first. Which means they have to visit the sites to subscribe to them. (Unless we all start throwing around feeder links instead the original hyper links.) So design and layout will still be paramount to increasing readership via first impressions. But if that impression is successful, then you have defeated yourself. If page views were your goal. If on the other hand, you just care about sharing your
content, well then, you've won Web 2.0!
The biggest snag to this shift are those sites that limit the content of their feeds. New York Times, I'm looking at you. Curiously, one of Wired's other predictions for the coming year is that the NYT will come out from behind their fire wall. Of the approximately 150 feeds that I read on a daily basis, only a few are limited in any way. And all but one of those are graphic intensive webcomics that do so to limit their bandwidth bills.
Should it be considered rude to not include feeds to your site? Will fully accessible feeds be considered a norm for websites in the future? How will the ability to centrally control separate social networks and content aggregation change the internet experience? I know I'm not covering any new ground here. Smarter people are being paid, or trying to find ways to be paid, for figuring out these issues. I guess this can be my answer to this year's Edge
Question. I'm optimistic about the future of the internet.