A week ago I got an email from a student of Digital Media at Hyper Island in Karlskrona, Sweden. She wanted to ask me several questions for one of her projects, and I hope that the answers I sent was somewhat userfull. One of the questions were “What are the biggest trends in digital media right now? and what’s coming?”, and after thinking about that one a bit I came up with this rambling answer…
- The culture of digital natives are starting to invade the mainstream. That means that content that are currently on youtube and other similar sites are soon going to be much more available for the general public. Fiction made for the web (webisodes etc) are going to start competing with old school media (TV series and cinema movies). We are yet to see the first mainstream hit, but there have been a couple of underground hits already (Dr Horrible for example). It has for many years now been possible to cheaply produce quality media by a small team or by yourself from your house, and soon we are going to see the big effects of this.
- Worldwide increased bandwidth and connectivity. In the western part of the world this means more bandwidth, in large parts of Africa/Asia this means that people get online via mobile devices in ever increasing numbers. This will probably affect the media and services available in two ways. First of all increased bandwidth is going to push ever more rich experiences onto the web in a more efficient and broadly available manner. Some years down the line this means the death of TV as we know it today as well as many many bad experiments with new GUIs as developers and designers are trying to figure out what to do with all this new bandwidth. That people in the 3rd world are going online also means that web services that are simple and usefull will have a great potential, services that are usefull to farmers in the Indian countryside but not to European urban youngsters.
- The (somewhat) success of the Kindle and the digitalization of books is just a first step towards the death of the printed book as we know it – at least the current printed book business model, not the actual physical existence of a printed book. Already 3 industries (software, music, movie) have tried to fight the new technology to keep old business models alive, and they have all failed. You can try to stop “evil” new techology (like the VHS, or the Pirate Bay), but unless you change with it you will loose. The book industry have to decide what to do when books starts to be ever copyable pieces of content (just as music is today). The old business model where publishers print paper editions of books will die, the question is how the industry deals with this. The early signs is that they are trying to fight the new technology instead of accepting and using it, and that is a bad sign for the publishers.
As you noticed I didnt mention trends like the end of the newspaper industry as we know it or mashups or anything like that, I do think that the trends above do have a bigger impact and/or are more interesting.
What do you think? Did I get things somewhat right or completely wrong?