But Wait, There's More!

By Oppenheim, Richard | Searcher, June 2011 | Go to article overview

But Wait, There's More!


Oppenheim, Richard, Searcher


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From the days of the carnival barker to today's infomercials, the phrase "But wait, there's more" has been the attraction to keep the audience from departing without buying, that the deal was about to become a lot better. With today's 24-hour, information-choked communications, there is always more being offered. The world of digital everything from audio to video is expanding, and more, lots more, is on the way.

The battle for your time and participation is expanding. This is not a political fight with everyone spinning everything. Rather, this is all about what sounds, pictures, and moving images will and will not attract you to listen and to watch. Listening and watching is not a one-time event. The availability of digital storage enables repeat viewing as often and as many times as you choose.

The history of communications has lots of founding fathers and mothers. Just a few examples include cave drawings chiseled in rock, the creation of paper, Gutenberg and movable type, and how the telegraph and telephone replaced the Pony Express. In the 20th century, phonograph records were replaced by cassette tapes and 8 tracks. Photographic glass plates were made obsolete by roll film such as Kodacolor and Kodachrome. And film was itself replaced, first by videotape and then by digital imaging.

Really smart engineers advanced technology to evolve phones from wall hanging boxes with an operator making phone connections to little, fold-up cellular devices. Now the world of everything integrated--computer chips, display screens and communicating--has spawned the age of smartphones. Computing has journeyed from sand and stone to papyrus to abacus to devices that you can carry wherever you go. Make a phone call, locate where you are, watch today's baseball game or a movie, take a picture, or search the web--all from devices that fit in your hand and do not require wires.

Today, there is an oversupply of statistics and observations on almost every subject at whatever detail level you need. The bottom line is that more text, audio, images, and video are being viewed on your choice of small, medium, or very large screens. The increase will keep growing almost every day. This trend in personal devices and personal viewing provides access to content tied to travel. Rather than driving to a movie theater, we rented a videotape at the local, not chain, video store. DVDs made it easier and cheaper; video streaming cuts out the retail brick-and-mortar outlet with even more facility.

These technology trends are clearly having a major impact on the recording and film industries. One big-budget movie made in 3D has created a headlong rush into making every entertainment available in some form of 3D. Movies are being retrofitted; sports programming is giving depth of field a new name, and entertainment companies are working very hard on ways to cash in on this audience-satisfying experience. In the 1950s, it was House of Wax that provided a buzz event, but that is only a blip compared to what is happening now.

Technology, specifically digital images and digital video, is making a substantial impact on our work and leisure time. The population of photographers and writers grows every day. Take a picture or make a video, then post it on YouTube and share it with the world. Pictures used to be on paper and kept in books we called albums. Now the album is digital and has names like Picasa, Flickr, Kodak share, Vimeo, YouTube, MySpace, et al.

It is not just Super Bowl commercials that attract attention. Dancing babies, choreographed singing in shopping malls and railroad stations, and candid photos from amateur and professional paparazzi are all over the internet. Some views are measured with single digits, other images and videos get millions of views. One of my personal favorites is "The Last Lecture" from Randy Pausch [http://www.thelastlecture.com]. …

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