Understanding More About New Media By Using It

Thumbnail image for apple-iphone-3g.jpg“This American Life” the hard-to-describe (their description) NPR show is playing as I type this entry. It’s not on the radio. It’s not from a podcast. It’s playing on my iPhone.

Because the iPhone is part phone/part computer I can use the computer part to swoop onto the Internet and stream the show. And now the Internet is in my pocket, not just my house or where I work. This show–any show can follow me anywhere!

This is a concept I’d long understood. It didn’t have the impact it does when you’re holding a working example in your hand!

A few years ago I had a conversation with a co-worker about the implications of Internet in cars. “Another distraction,” she said, thinking of the Internet only in the ways we’d already seen it used. She doesn’t feel that way anymore.

The Internet will soon be everywhere we are. Think atmosphere. The Internet will be as ubiquitous as the atmosphere.

On my way to work I listen to NPR’s “Talk of the Nation.” It’s on a network of low powered stations none of which provides a dependable signal on my route. I have two buttons set so I can switch frequencies as one or the other gets ratty.

Starting later today I will try replacing those stations with what I expect to be crystal clear reception via my phone.

Is this technology the end of terrestrial radio as we know it? Commercial AM and FM are already in sad shape. How much more will it take to bankrupt the heavily leveraged companies that dominate station ownership today?

It’s not just radio. I’ve got bad news for me. I watched a fantasy football TV show produced by Yahoo! before making my roster moves today, The quality was excellent on my iPhone.

Will we compete with or embrace this technology? Is the inherent business structure of a TV station capable of even playing in this game? Who knows? It’s early.

The iPhone is such a game changer the real impact is difficult to grasp. And the iPhone is just the gateway drug–a proof of concept, if you will.

There are quantum leaps to come with fatter pipes and more robust devices for consumers. Eleven years ago there was no Google. What will there be eleven years from now?

Radio was worried it would be killed off by TV. Movies too. They thought TV was their death knell. They survived. In fact until recently they both thrived.

Will today’s media shift be similar, allowing older providers to adapt while adding new outlets, or is this new technology so radically different and more powerful that old school outfits just don’t stand a chance?

2 Responses to “Understanding More About New Media By Using It”

  1. Gary says:

    I don’t think this is like the past, where one content technology replaced another – I think this time it’s about integration. Glad you’re liking the iPhone though, I guess I’m the next one who needs to drink that kool-aid.

  2. meredith says:

    This very topic has been a hot one in radio for the past couple years. I’ve attended many discussions about it at industry conferences this year, particularly at the NonComm radio conference. The expectation seems to be that Internet radio will be standard equipment in cars within 3 model years. The folks who need to be most concerned about this development at the moment are those at Sirius/XM, as who will pay for something you can get for free, with an almost infinite variety of choices? Satellite radio is quickly becoming a passing fad. I certainly don’t plan to waste my money getting a receiver.

    As for terrestrial radio, the consensus at the moment appears to be that radio is most likely to go back to being a purely local medium. Since Internet radio is mostly designed for a global audience, people are still going to need to go somewhere to get their local news and community information (you’re not going to hear about wintertime school closings on npr.org, for example). The local terrestrial stations may end up being streaming-only, but they will still serve their purpose.

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